Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Saturday, March 2

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Review Mon Dec 28 2015

At the MCA: Pop Art Design Gives Us a Refresher Course on the '60s and '70s

Pop Art Design at MCA Chicago
Pop Art Design exhibition view. Photos by Nathan Keay.

It may be your father's pop art, but the work shown in the new exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art is still fresh and fun. The art that shocked the elite art world 50 years ago still has a story to tell today.

The new Pop Art Design exhibit at the MCA pairs 150 art works and design objects in an exhibit that sparkles with wit and irreverence. And it reminds you of how Andy Warhol's "Campbell soup can art" was first received with non-connoisseurs. That was just about the time that the elite collectors woke up and began buying Warhols.

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Nancy Bishop

Design Wed Sep 09 2015

Center for Lost Arts: Beta-Testing a Maker Space

Center for Lost ArtsBy Bethel Habte

The old bowtruss building at 440 N. Morgan St. in the West Loop was a meat freezer. But for one month before its demolition, Kickstarter co-founder Charles Adler made it a playground. He stocked the building with materials and tools, then let loose 40-plus designers, woodworkers, artists and engineers in the space and let them make stuff.

Anything at all.

The month-long experience - called Center for Lost Arts - served as a prototype for future "maker spaces" in Chicago that Adler hopes to build. But prototypes aren't perfect.

Listen to the full story:

Bethel Habte is an independent radio producer in Washington, DC. She recently completed a Master's Degree in multimedia journalism at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern, specializing in audio and print feature reporting. You can follow her on Twitter at @bethel_habte.


Design Mon Jun 22 2015

AIGA Hosts Book Launch Party That's Part Circus, Part Theater

The Chicago chapter of AIGA, the professional association for design, launched its new book about Chicago design and designers Thursday. But it wasn't your typical book signing party. The designers did it with style and surprises. The venue itself was a signal that things would get interesting, since it was held at Redmoon Theater, a well-known avatar of surprises and creativity.

This Is Chicago, a 224-page book, celebrates the centennial of the organization originally known by its initialism, the American Institute of Graphic Arts. This Is Chicago features "an eclectic mix of designers who have had significant impact on us--in hopes that their passion, perseverance, humility and bravery will enable you to see Chicago the way that we see it." Their intent, AIGA says in the book's foreword, is to celebrate what it is about Chicago that makes it different from any other community.

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Nancy Bishop

Art Thu May 21 2015

Beauty and Brains: SAIC Fashion 2015 Roundup

Last year's show

This time of year, as we happily stow away our winter gear, many of us are reconsidering our wardrobes and cheerfully putting together ensembles from skin-bearing pieces we forgot we had over the long winter. Gone are the days of black pea coats and endless itchy wool accessories. Now we can wear what we want.

In the spirit of putting a little thought into our outfits, and in celebration of the end of a school year, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago recently staged their annual runway exhibition of fashion student work, The Walk.

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Kelly Reaves

Art Thu Apr 30 2015

SAIC Annual Runway Show Introduces the Next Gen in Fashion

The School of the Art Institute of Chicago will present the 81st edition of its annual runway show for 2015. The show, presented three times in one day on Friday, May 8, at Millennium Park's Chase Promenade, will support the production of student work and scholarships in THE WALK.


The students in the SAIC Department of Fashion Design have created works that include performance, sculpture, design and installation, SAIC students have created an electrifying evening that incorporates cross-disciplines and a combination of techniques.

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S. Nicole Lane

Art Mon Nov 03 2014

Preview: 21st Annual SOFA Chicago Fair Nov. 7-9


SOFA Chicago is doing it again. Thirty-four thousand individuals will attend the exposition at Navy Pier where 70-plus galleries will present creative works and emerging artists to Chicago art lovers. The 21st annual event will feature exhibits, a lecture series, in person creatives and the unveiling of many incredible first time, never before seen, art pieces -- a collectors must have! The Art and Design Fair is an internationally known event which interconnects the fine arts and the design world in a weekend full of creative bliss.

SOFA is Chicago's consociation of art collectors, creative individuals and designers. It continues to lure and pull individuals into the great event for a chance to witness or even purchase items that have never before been unveiled.

In addition to unseen work, the fair will also be hosting world renown galleries and artists that collectors and art lovers continue to come back for each year. Above is an image from Eric Zammitt, who is represented by the David Richard Gallery in Santa Fe. Along with artists like Zammitt and galleries like those in Santa Fe, Yvel, the William Zimmer Gallery, Pistachios, the Maurine Littleton Gallery, Kirra Galleries are just a small selection of those that will be in attendance at the fair. In total, 14 countries will be exhibiting this year at the exposition.

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S. Nicole Lane

Technology Tue Sep 03 2013

Science Fiction Comes to Life in a Public Library

These days, by using a digital model, you can make a solid object. The implications are enormous and with genie out of the bottle, a new world awaits the possibilities that are bound to be wonderful or misused depending on the motivation of the creator. So when the Harold Washington Library announced the opening of a Maker Innovation Labs featuring 3D printers, my interest was piqued and I knew I had to go.

The interactive exhibit runs through the end of the year, with workshops being held to familiarize participants with the design software, allowing you to create and then print items such as key chains and desk organizers.

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Alan Lake

Design Tue Jun 11 2013

Chicago Design Museum: See the Work at Play Exhibit

Work at Play is an exhibit of graphic design produced in the last 60 years, featuring the work of four important contemporary designers. The exhibit at the Chicago Design Museum, a temporary space on the third floor of Block 37, 108 N. State St., runs through June 30. (It's free, but the museum suggests a $10 donation.)

Here's how the museum describes Work at Play: "Beyond the hours at the office, we create, we make-we play. In an attempt to find our own voice, we may stumble upon a visual language that can speak for and, perhaps, inspire others. This year, we celebrate the blurred line between work and play."


Exhibit of John Massey posters. Photo by Nancy Bishop.

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Nancy Bishop

Art Wed Feb 20 2013

EXPO Chicago Returns This September

expochgo.jpgComing this September, come on out for EXPO Chicago's EXPO Art Week 2013 (Sept. 16-22) in conjunction with Choose Chicago and Chicago's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. This four-day event will be held in Navy Pier's Festival Hall and will host over 120 leading international galleries providing visitors with a mix of contemporary/modern art and design. Meanwhile, art and cultural festivities will take place all over the city.

During the Expo, keep and eye out and partake in citywide exhibits, gallery openings, installations, public art projects, music, theater and dance performances, and special dining experiences for residents and visiting international cultural tourists.

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Lauren Haberman

Art Sun Nov 04 2012

A Return to Form: SOFA 2012


Norman Mooney. AMBER STAR No. 2

SOFA is a fair of history. This is evident upon first entering Festival Hall at Navy Pier and was especially noticeable on opening night of the 19-year-old fair. Unlike the weariness masked as over-jubilant fervor of the inaugural EXPO CHICAGO, the spirit of SOFA (Sculpture Objects Functional Art + Design) is born out its familiarity for visitors and for collectors.

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Britt Julious

Art Wed Oct 31 2012

High Design for the Right Now: Bivouac at the MCA


Installation view, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec: Bivouac, MCA Chicago. October 20, 2012 - January 20, 2013. Photo © Studio Bouroullec

Truly great design is invisible. It exists outside of our day-to-day interactions, instead seamlessly blending into everything else we do - the work, the play, the relaxation at home. You don't want a designed object to insert itself in the things you need to do, only help facilitate what happens from morning to night.

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Britt Julious

Art Tue Jun 19 2012

Tele Vision Personalities

Limbic, Impression from Tyler Yager on Vimeo.

It's not that traditional architectural practices lack a focus on design and the execution of ideas. But after spending time in Tele Vision, the School of the Art Institute's final graduate exhibition featuring works from students in the Architecture, Interior Architecture, Designed Objects, and Fashion departments, it is apparent that like other departments in the school, SAIC students value the complete synthesis of the tangible and conceptual.

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Britt Julious

Event Wed May 16 2012

Gapers Block Event: 8x8 at The Coop

8x8_350.jpgIn the spirit of artistic collaboration, The Coop and Gapers Block have teamed up to produce 8x8, an experiment in writing and design.

Eight Chicagoland designers (Jesse Hora, Andy Luce, Chad Kouri, Ina Weise, Letterform, Ryan Sievert, Paul Octavious and Kyle Fletcher) were paired with eight local writers (Patrick Somerville, Claire Zulkey, Kevin Guilfoile, William Shunn, Wendy McClure, Scott Smith, Gapers Block political editor Ramsin Canon and Book Club co-founder Veronica Bond) to create collaborative works, with text informing and influencing art and vice versa. The results of this experiment are presented in limited edition poster form, with writing and design back to back.

The posters make their debut at a reception Friday night, May 18, from 6pm to 10pm at The Coop coworking space, 230 W. Superior St., 2nd floor. Refreshments will be served, and sets of the posters will be available for purchase, with proceeds benefiting Open Books.

Andrew Huff

Event Wed Sep 28 2011

CAM Kicks off in Ravenswood This Weekend

RAW2011-Poster11x17-662x1024.jpgGet a head start on Chicago Artist Month this weekend with the kickoff event -- the Ravenswood Art Walk, which will feature the work of over 200 local artists, including over 40 open studios. This opening night event this Friday will also include live performances and some damn good food by some of Ravenswood's best restaurants.

The Friday night event will kickoff at 7pm in and around the Ravenswood Event Center (4011 N. Ravenswood), with ample spillage out into the street (Ravenswood Ave. itself will be shut down between Montrose and Sunnyside for a street fair)(Stop by the GB booth!). The fun won't stop Friday, though, so make sure to stop by on Saturday and/or Sunday for more festivities. Bring the kids. Details here. MORE details, including a schedule of performances, can be found here. Click here for a map. Best of all, admission is FREE!

Kelly Reaves

Art Tue Jun 14 2011

Here is Where: New Works at Sullivan Galleries

Calendar Listing Image  - loaded_daniel_whiteneck_3.jpg

Daniel R. Whiteneck

On the seventh floor of the former Carson Pirie Scott building, the graduating students from the School of the Art Institute's Departments of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects (AIADO), and Fashion, presented works befitting the classic Louis Sullivan-designed building. Aesthetically speaking, their designs and concepts - ranging from mobile food cart projects to illuminated public art works to multi-functional furniture - are a far cry from Sullivan's steel-framed Chicago landmark. But the goals of the students' designs, often touching upon ideas of recycling, conservation of resources, and streamlined communication, were grounded in multi-generational sustainability.

"It was a chance to do something really beautiful, really challenging, and a challenge for myself," said Alysse Filipek (BFA 2013), the Grand Prize winner of the Designers of Tomorrow competition. Filipek's work addresses both her personal history in Southern California and her reaction to the harsh, Seasonal Affective Disorder-creating winters of Chicago.

Other works on view include LOADED: SAIC in Milan, originally presented during the 2011 Milan International Furniture Fair; Industry Partners: Living in a Smart City; a five-year GFRY Design Studio retrospective; and Where is Where, the graduate thesis exhibition.

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Britt Julious

Design Tue Jun 14 2011

Get Your Guerrilla On Tonight


Furniture geeks and functional art fans, take heed: the 7th Annual Guerrilla Truck Show is tonight, along with a bevy of exhibitions and parties in the area designed to be visited in tandem. These events take place tonight from 5:30 to 9:30 in the West Loop, with the official truck show at Morlen Sinoway Atelier: 1052 W. Fulton Market St. For more information, visit the Facebook event page. For a map of all the locations participating, click here. Also, (not noted on the map) EBERSMOORE (213 N. Morgan, #3C) is hosting a special exhibition of work by the talented group known as the Dock 6 Collective (works pictured above). For photos of past GTS's, check out this Flickr collection.

Kelly Reaves

Art Wed Apr 20 2011

A Different Kind of Art Fair

Chicago's largest art fair, Art Chicago, has taken a hit in recent years due to mismanagement and other logistical issues. For the local art community, the fair - now a massive four-day event encompassing multiple floors of the Merchandise Mart - often isolates or ignores the eclectic, diverse, and ever-changing Chicago and Midwest-based art galleries, publications, and institutions.

Three of Chicago's most celebrated art entities-- threewalls, Roots and Culture, and Public Media Institute-- present the MDW Fair, a celebration and gathering of Chicagoland area independent art initiatives, spaces, galleries, publishers, and artist groups, and something of a response to the much larger fair which takes place the following weekend. Running April 23 and 24, the fair aims to "demonstrate the diversity, strength, and vision of the people/places making it happen in the art ecology of our region."

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Britt Julious / Comments (2)

Design Tue Mar 15 2011

Too Good for Any Ole' Bologna Sandwich


Chicago's own beloved Threadless has teamed up with Thermos to make adorable new crowdsourced lunch accessories for Target. Artists submit their designs to be voted on by the Threadless community of nearly 1.5 million members to help decide which designs are printed on the Thermos + Threadless line of products, in the same manner that Threadless' t-shirts are chosen/produced. Each product in the new line features an artist statement on the packaging detailing the inspiration for the selected design and giving context to the images. The newly-launched Thermos + Threadless line currently consists of eight designs on stainless steel hydration bottles and six designs on lunchboxes.

I don't know about you, but when I was a teenager, lunchboxes and other manufactured eating accessories were vehemently taboo among the cool crowd. Kids turned their noses up at them in favor of brown paper bags. This may change that.

Kelly Reaves

Feature Fri Dec 03 2010

Hungry and Driven: Unearthing the Emerging Chicago Fashion Community

Sometimes the fashion shows take place in abandoned warehouses on the West Side or in third floor fledgling art galleries in Wicker Park. Occasionally, someone will clear out the knick knacks and sketch pads they normally scatter across the battered love seats of their first apartments in the city. The point, it seems, for a new crop of young designers, is to prove that there is some form of community (albeit smaller and certainly less competitive) in Chicago in a similar vein to more established design cities like New York or Los Angeles. If there are designs to be shown, a venue can be found--or created--to showcase a young designers work.

Every fall, the events of Chicago Fashion Focus primarily take place in the Macy's on State Street or in elaborately constructed tents in Millennium Park. The number of shows, usually less than 10, are a far cry from the fashion week events in smaller cities such as Miami or Minneapolis, and in no way compare to the extravaganza known as New York Fashion Week. With the demise of GenArt, the opportunities for local emerging designers to showcase their work during Fashion Focus is even less than during the event's first fledgling years in the early aughts. The results of this post-Gen Art era in the Chicago fashion scene has been ignored, or largely disjointed. For young designers obtaining their degrees from local art colleges such as the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College, and the Illinois Institute of Art, the disconnect between their academic pursuits and the communities or opportunities available has been a wake-up call and the inspiration to pursue more DIY-generated opportunities for exposure and experience.

In the spirit of this DIY-ethos, Carmen McGhee and Aris Sergakis, two fashion design students from the Illinois Institute of Art, came together to produce "UNEARTHED," an evening dedicated to the young emerging fashion designers of the city.

from left: McGhee and Sergakis

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Britt Julious / Comments (2)

Feature Tue Nov 30 2010

Toy Story

This article was submitted by Michael Moreci

It's the mid-nineteenth century, Normandy, France. Claude Monet is still just a young boy with dreams of being a singer when one day, he happens upon a swirling cluster of water lilies. Maybe he doesn't realize it then, but the moment marks him in an indelible way.

Jump 130 years later. Ben Spencer is an average American kid, growing up on a steady diet of cartoons and action figures. He, too, doesn't realize the impression that will inspire him years down the road, how He-Man, Thundercats, and Go-Bots are shaping his sensibilities.

The point here is that, at times, part of the enigmatic process of creating art is a reflection of the culture one grows up in. Claude Monet grew up to create a series of water lily paintings; Ben Spencer just recently designed his first toy, Galaxxor, a figure that blends Spencer's love of early-80s toys with his own design aesthetics. Yet the gap between the two sensibilities-French Impressionism and toy design--and how they are perceived as art couldn't be wider.

an illustration of Galaxxor by Steve Seeley

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Art Tue Oct 26 2010

Discounted SOFA/Intuit Tickets


The work of glass Maestro Lino Tagliapietra in Holsten Galleries booth at SOFA CHICAGO last year, photo courtesy of SOFA

For those of you who are planning on going to the SOFA/Intuit Outsider Art fairs next weekend (November 5 - 7 at Navy Pier), we have good news: you can get half off your tickets if you use the code "ARTFAIR" when visiting the Tickets & Showtimes link at

Better yet, you can register with Intuit here for a FREE ticket, plus they'll get a donation for every complementary ticket that is turned in.

Before the discount, general admission is $15 per ticket-- this admits visitors to both fairs and their related lecture series, special exhibits and events. Both fairs kick-off with a joint Opening Night Preview in Festival Hall on Thursday, Nov. 4. The public is invited to attend from 7 to 9pm for $50.

Kelly Reaves / Comments (2)

Art Wed Oct 20 2010

Free Things, Thingys, Thingies?

Gallery 400 recently tweeted that on the last day of Stephanie Syjuco's exhibition, Particulate Matter (Things, Thingys, Thingies), viewers can walk away with one of the sculptures, no strings attached. Syjuco's handmade sculptures were designed by users of Google's SketchUp, a free 3-D modeling program. We can't say for certain whether or not this is true, but it is certainly a good excuse to catch the show before it closes this Saturday.

Gallery 400 is located at 400 South Peoria, and is open this Thursday and Friday from 10am to 6pm, and Saturday, from 12pm to 6pm.

Britt Julious

Art Fri Jul 23 2010

Call for Artists: Chicago Artists Month Exhibition


Chicago area visual artists are encouraged to submit work to an art exhibition to kick off Chicago Artists Month that will sponsored by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, the Chicago Arts District and Gapers Block. A panel of three Gapers Block staffers will curate the show, and selected artists will participate in the exhibition on Friday, October 1 from 6-10pm at 2001 S. Halsted Street.

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David Schalliol / Comments (1)

Art Thu Jul 22 2010

Dressed in Comics

Just in time for Comic-Con 2010, Threadless presents Comics-On Tees. The series "Every Night I Have the Same Dream" features designs by Jill Thompson, Tony Moore, Cliff Chiang, & Art Baltazar in four issues. To tie in with the series, Threadless has a new design challenge, Threadless Loves Comics. The chosen design will be worn by a character in an upcoming issue of CHEW by Tony Chu.

Christian Scheuer

Design Sat Jul 03 2010

So Hot and So Green


It's no secret that green design is hot right now, and for good reason. There are a bunch of tiny, local design companies like Green Sawn and Bladon Conner that have popped up over the past few years and are doing pretty well for themselves making modern, high end furniture and other domestic items out of locally sourced, salvaged materials.

One of my favorites, Strand Design, recently came out with a "Good Dog Spotlight" (pictured at top) that's pretty charming. Strand has also recently been working on commissions around the city like a checkout desk for the Dill Pickle Food Co-op made out of materials from the Re-Building Exchange and a fabulous earthy-yet-geometric table for UIC.

Keep your eyes peeled for more little design companies popping up around the city; this green thing is definitely not going out of style.

Kelly Reaves

Art Tue Apr 20 2010

Don't Miss Version Fest

version10.jpgThe illustrious Version festival starts this Thursday with Territories, a group exhibition at the Zhou B. Art Center. Also, starting that night at midnight Version fest presents six episodes of experimental television featuring works submitted to this year's festival. Watch every night of the festival at midnight to view a 30 minute episode on Chicago Cable Access Channel 19 (CANTV).

On Friday the opening party for Version Festival kicks off at 8pm at Co-Prosperity Sphere, promising more unabashed creativity and wild rock and roll than any one human being could hope to completely absorb in one night. The meat and potatoes of the show Friday will most likely be the live music by amazing local acts including Mahjongg, Brilliant Pebbles, and Mr666 (among others), but the show will be garnished by art and entertainment by Telefantasy Studios-- a group of artists specializing in Sci-Fi/fantasy film productions who claim that their aim is to "transport people to realms never before imagined and to tell heroic stories with dazzling special effects." For the Version fest opening party they will create a temporary soundstage for performance, and they want everyone to come in costume as a Sci-Fi/fantasy character to be filmed, photographed, interviewed, and auditioned.

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Kelly Reaves

Art Sat Apr 17 2010

Printervention at Chicago Tourism Center Gallery

Printervention, a collection of socially active posters and prints, opened on April 17 with a bustling reception at the Chicago Tourism Center Gallery. The show presents over 70 works by artists around the country, each one drawing awareness to a specific cause or idea. The messages range from politically charged to casually speculative with a refreshing mix of styles and ideas. One piece by Tyler Galloway titled Spread Love encourages people to embrace the homeless of our city. The four-section poster is constructed like tear away coupons, each offering a different way to help the homeless- invite someone home for dinner, share money without judgment, or knit someone a winter hat. A nearby poster with a more comical feel suggests people "Go Swim, or at least go outside and do something," illustrated with neon swim shorts.

Printervention poster exhibition will be up at the Chicago Tourism Center Gallery at 72 E Randolph Ave. until May 4. On April 27 from 7pm-2am, you can check out the prints in both poster and sticker form at the Whistler, a social event that will include an awards presentation at 8pm. Looking to get your hands on some prints from the show? Printervention is also incorporating a mobile silkscreen cart that will be distributing prints throughout parks and on the streets of the city.

Britany Robinson

Architecture Mon Apr 12 2010

Rosa to Leave Art Institute, Lead U of M Museum

The Architect's Newspaper is reporting that Joseph Rosa, the John H. Bryan Curatorial Chair of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute, will leave the institution to direct the University of Michigan Museum of Art. As anyone who's been to the Art Institute in the last few years knows, the role of design and architecture at the institution has significantly expanded under his tenure. Here's to looking forward to finding out what's next!

David Schalliol

Design Wed Feb 03 2010

Chainlink Jersey Winner Announced

Picture 5.png

Image courtesy of Crank the Earth
The Chainlink: Chicago Online Bicycling Community, announced the winner of their jersey design contest today. The jersey (pictured above) is called "Chicago Pride" and was designed by Ross Felten. The short-sleeved jersey will be available at Crank the Earth. The Chainlink says it will be available in March and Crank the Earth says it will be available in April so keep a look out.

Whitney Stoepel

Architecture Wed Jan 20 2010

Coren Sharples of SHoP at the MCA

Image from

New York based SHoP architecture firm was founded in 1997 by Coren Sharples, her husband, her husband's twin brother and another married couple. With a business doubling as a family, "you can't be a jerk to the people you work with because you have to go home to them," Sharples said last night at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) for a lecture that was part of their Studio is the Subject series. Sharples began the talk with a description of SHoP's business practices that focus on ethics (they have never had an unpaid intern) and innovative design (the "kit of parts" idea).

The kit of parts refers to models they remembered putting together as kids that came with the "sheet" of parts you could pop out and fit together. Referring to this concept, when SHoP sends out the pieces for a project, materialized and cut by computer, to a construction site, the laborers rarely have to measure or even cut. A little over a year ago, SHoP added SHoP Construction to further the in-house simplicity.

Sharples, accompanied by a slide show, also chronicled quite a few projects. This was the most fascinating portion of the lecture. Sharples explained the firm's preference for sometimes working with smaller projects because of their ability to experiment. "The big rich people say they want something different, something no one's ever done before, but really there is too much money involved. They don't want to be guinea pigs," she said. She walked the audience through the process of the Museum of Modern Art's summer installation that had a budget of $50,000 and 4 weeks to be completed. Another highlight was SHoP's installation for DIFFA and Supima Cotton, which involved enormous cotton bolls conceptualized into a wall used for one event that could be packed flat and reused again and again.

There are seven more events for The Studio is the Subject series through May 22 and a full list can be found on the MCA's website.

Whitney Stoepel

Design Wed Dec 02 2009

Styling Information, Technology: An Interview with Nick Disabato

Nick Disabato is writing a style guide for interaction design. This was not a sudden thing: Nick's interest in making things work and look better intertwined with computers early on. Growing up in a self-described "really wired household", he was exposed to technology and the internet at a young age. Born in Park Ridge, Nick earned his master's in Human-Computer Interaction at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before returning to Chicago. He currently resides in Logan Square, and works as a user experience designer at I had the opportunity to talk with Nick about his book, Cadence & Slang, the process and ideas behind it, and how he's using Kickstarter to make it a reality.

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Rose Lannin

Design Wed Dec 02 2009

Object Design League's December Pop-up Shop

object_design_league.jpgHow do you design a piggy bank that promotes charitable giving?  Or an umbrella that doubles as an anger management tool?  The Object Design League's December pop-up shop, Worth Your Salt, has the answer.

The installation, in residence at Pavilion Antiques through December 11, represents the work of 19 designers who belong to the Object Design League, a collective co-founded by Caroline Linder and Lisa Smith that promotes independent object design in Chicago and beyond.

And what exactly is "independent object design"?  Think of it this way: every object you come into contact with has a design, from coffee cups to paper clips, and most objects are designed according to the needs of the market.  (People don't want their umbrellas to double as fake weapons, market research tells manufacturers.)  But there are a few rogue designers out there who don't care to be restricted by the needs of the market -- or at least they're not always designing for it.

So Linder and Smith created the Chicago-based Object Design League to give those designers a forum to present their work, collectively self-promote, and experiment.  But despite those lofty-sounding goals, Worth Your Salt is surprisingly accessible.  While some of the objects weigh a bit heavy on the modern art side (a table top divider that "creates spatial boundaries on your tabletop," for $500), most of them could make -- ahem -- unique holiday gifts that won't break the bank, like  raw clock or the coil lamp.

Worth Your Salt celebrated its opening November 27 with a Black Friday reception.  Another reception (read: food and booze while you browse) will be held on Thursday, December 3, from 5-9pm, as part of the December on Damen retail event in Bucktown.

Katherine Raz

Design Fri Aug 21 2009

A Poster for Your HOMES

great lakes poster

The latest from Ork Posters (creators of the awesome Chicago Neighborhoods poster) is an homage to the Great Lakes.

Andrew Huff

Design Wed Aug 05 2009

Bling Bling on a Button

ButtonOmaticGoldButtons.jpgThe button was first patented in 1896 in a small town in New Jersey and since then has been used to promote, market, or simply express people's agendas. Chicago-based button company Busy Beaver Buttons has been, well, busy expanding upon this 100+ year medium. Since 1995 the company has been providing bands, companies, really anyone they can with colorful buttons for an extremely fair price in a very creative manner. From their Button-o-matic series, which can be found in their button machines all around the country, to their unique connection to Chicago the company itself has grown quickly as a major competitor in the button world. In celebration of their ever-growing business Busy Beaver is hosting a grand opening party for their brand new location on 3279 W. Armitage Avenue. From 1 to 5pm on Saturday, August 8th you can tour the company's new headquarters, enjoy some free drinks, and of course make some buttons.
Busy Beaver is also releasing a set of gold plated and nickel plated buttons curated by Dustin Hostetler, from Threadless and Faesthetic, as a part of their Button-o-matic series. The release party for this new set of designs happens right after the open house from 5 to 8pm, with some "golden beer" and music provided by Devin Davis.

Amy Dittmeier

Art Mon Jul 06 2009

Call for Artists: "Chicago Week" from GB and Wall Blank

Chicago visual artists are invited to submit their work to a competition sponsored by Gapers Block and the Rockford-based arts purveyor Wall Blank.

The four winning artists will be featured on Gapers Block, and their work will be offered as prints for sale on Wall Blank during "Chicago Week" in August 2009.

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David Schalliol

Architecture Mon Jun 15 2009

Attention to Detail: Furniture Designer Suzanne Trocmé at NeoCon

Think you could fill a Soldier Field-size stadium with people interested industrial furniture design? Well, you can. For the next three days more than 50,000 people will be descending upon the Merchandise Mart for NeoCon, the National Exposition of Contract Furnishings. It's the largest exhibition of "contract furnishings for the design and management of the built environment" in North America. In other words, a trade show for people looking to furnish (mostly) public spaces.


And it is massive. With over 1200 exhibitors featuring everything from readymade classroom murals to hospital waiting room chairs, the conference will occupy 1.2 million square feet inside the Mart from Monday the 15th through Wednesday the 17th.

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Katherine Raz / Comments (5)

Art Sun Feb 15 2009

Presidents in Cupcakes!

Baker/artist extraordinaire Zilly Rosen created an amazing 5,900 cupcake mosaic featuring President Obama and Lincoln in honor of President's Day.

Check out Illinois' Presidents in all their butter cream glory here on Cake Wrecks.

I desperately want to see a sped up version of the web-stream from that day if anyone has a link.

Kristin Barrick

Design Tue Feb 03 2009

So You Think You Can Kern?

Listen up, Helvetica fans: do you have what it takes to color correct competitively? C.M.Y.K.: America's Top Graphic Designer is looking for you. The producers are hoping to create a reality television show about the artists behind "everything you see."

"There have been many successful reality shows," says creator Cheryle R. Reynolds, "but none have featured the graphic design geniuses behind major marketing campaigns for print, television, Internet, and mobile devices. CMYK will do just that."

Chicagoland auditions for the reality show are Saturday, Feb. 21 at the Illinois Institute of Art in Schaumburg from 11am-5pm.

As one Chicago graphic design firm put it, "Graphic design has reached its final fad." What's next -- a reality show about reality show producers?

Katherine Raz

Design Mon Jan 26 2009

Designers Show 'n Tell

The Show 'n Tell Show, an entertaining and informal talk show in which designers talk about design, returns to The Whistler with new designers, more projects, and weirder jokes. Hosted by Zach Dodson and Mike Renaud, with some enthusiastic assistance by the Spokesmom (AKA Seth Dodson), the second-ever Show 'n Tell Show features designers Nick Butcher, Jonathan Crawford, Rod Hunting, Nathan Keay, Myra Mazzei, and Guy Villa. Don't be a no-show!

The Show 'n Tell Show / Wednesday, January 28 @ 7pm
The Whistler / 2421 N. Milwaukee Ave., between Fullerton and Richmond St.

Laura Pearson

Art Mon Jan 05 2009

Cody Hudson X gravitytank

Design firm gravitytank commissioned local artist Cody Hudson to create an installation for their reception area. FoGB Craig Berman, who works there, made this video of the process:

Andrew Huff

Design Thu Dec 11 2008

The Show 'n Tell Show

Co-hosted by Zach Dodson and Mike Renaud, The Show 'n Tell Show is a new bimonthly event designed for designers to get together and talk about their work. It's a casual affair, to be sure. "There isn't commercial pressure," assure the co-hosts, "or institutional big brothers watching." Also, the showing 'n telling happens in a bar.

The debut event takes place December 12, at The Whistler in Logan Square. The featured designers are: Alyson Beaton, David R. Head, Jr., Anna Knott, Jon Krohn, Ryan Maconochie, Mark McGinnis, Anthony P. Muñoz, Nadine Nakanishi, Mike Novak, Jon Resh, and Joe Wigdahl.

The Show 'n Tell Show / Friday, December 12 @ 7pm
The Whistler / 2421 N. Milwaukee Ave., between Fullerton and Richmond St.

Laura Pearson

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Architecture Tue Nov 03 2015

Paul Goldberger Describes the "Pragmatism and Poetry" of Frank Gehry's Architecture in His New Book

By Nancy Bishop

Architecture critic Paul Goldberger talks about Frank Gehry's life and work in a new book.
Read this feature »

Steve at the Movies Fri Jan 01 2016

Best Feature Films & Documentaries of 2015

By Steve Prokopy

Read this column »


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