Recently, photographer and reality television star Nigel Barker surprised Michigan Avenue shoppers with a pop-up selfie opportunity. Art Van Furniture teamed with the sharp-looking man to strike a pose on one of its couches plopped down in Pioneer Court. Referred to as a "sofie," fans were encouraged to sit on the couch with the host of The Face on the Oxygen Network and possibly win a brand-new couch of their own by taking a self-shot picture with their camera devices.
Participants were asked to hashtag that photo with titles of #ArtVan and #SofaSelfie while posting to their individual social-media sites. The top 55 contestants who received the most retweets, shares and likes by the end of that month were granted a new sofa from the furniture store. The first 1,000 guests also received a complimentary catalogue from Art Van.
Windy City Times spoke with Barker at the event. It was recently announced that he would guest judge on Project Runway All Stars on Lifetime; he stated that he wanted to do this show for years but was unable to because of being on America's Next Top Model.
"Now free of that, I am able to do these other projects that I have always wanted to do I am able to talk to these Project Runway designers and show them how clothes sell," Barker said. "It is a different critique because they always talk about the design but I talk about how that translates to a photograph in a magazine and as a result people buy clothing. I bring that to the table. "
Barker said he's known all of the judges in the past from the clothing-competition show, including the very pregnant ( at time of filming ) Alyssa Milano. No news was given about The Face returning, as cast members are under contract and waiting to see. Barker's new book, Models of Influence, will be released in February courtesy of HarperCollins The coffee-table photo book spotlights influential models, going back to 1940.
Art Van Furniture kicks off a grand opening celebration at 2606 N. Elston Ave. on Sunday, Oct. 26, at 9 a.m. A few days later, the party continues in Logan Square Wed., Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. with a return visit to Chicago from Barker and model Cindy Crawford, with home designer Halary Farr along for the ride. The owner, Art Van Elslander, plans to be in attendance as well.
Photo and text by Jerry Nunn