Chicago has been called the most American of American big cities. The design work coming out of Chicagoland, in the same vein, is also perhaps the most American. Today, the collaboration between designers and manufacturers in the Chicago area make for a stronger local – and ultimately national – economy and community, a drive with ties to the Good Design movement following the Second World War.
Chicago has a long history of manufacturing, led largely by it’s central location within the US. Despite obvious challenges, employment in manufacturing is currently growing, accounting for 9.5% of all Chicago-area jobs. Those producing fabricated metal products hold 16% of these jobs – 1.52 x the number of similar positions nationwide – while manufacturing which includes furniture and wood products takes another 13% of the pie.
By utilizing the knowledge and long-learned expertise of local manufacturers, Chicagoland designers are able to realize new solutions for their ideas and ensure high quality in their final product. With a focus on truth to material, exploration of high technology outputs, and the creation of work that will be passed down through generations, Chicagoland designers are keeping it local while adding to an American design tradition.
CHICAGOLAND will showcase new work by AKMD, Chilab, Collection WEST, Materious, Michel Savona, Parsons & Charlesworth, Steven Haulenbeek, studioBA and Sung Jang Laboratory. CHICAGOLAND is curated and organized by Morgan Walsh, with support from Michael Dreeben, Steven Haulenbeek, and Angie West; exhibition design by Parsons & Charlesworth; and graphic design by Michael Savona.
Exhibition support generously provided by Manifold, West Supply and an Individual Artist Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, as well as a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Michael Dreeben and Ayush Kasliwal met in Jaipur, India in 1998: Michael had recently completed an MFA in sculpture at the University of Chicago and was working on a Fulbright grant to study traditional craft; Ayush had just completed study at the prestigious National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad, with a degree in furniture design. What they found was a mutual interest in fine traditional craft practices and how these could inform contemporary design. This has become a driving concept behind the AKMD collection. Their collaborator, Ray Doeksen studied industrial design at Michigan State University.
Steven Haulenbeek is a Chicago-based industrial designer and artist working in the fields of furniture, lighting, accessories, conceptual objects, events and interiors. He holds a BA in Sculpture from Hope College (2002) and an MFA in Designed Objects from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2006). In 2007 he founded his design practice, Steven Haulenbeek Design Concepts Inc. with the interest in experimental, material, and process based design work. His work has been exhibited and published internationally.
Sung Jang is a practitioner of both art and design, one of his main focus of interest in design is to quantify and control qualitative values. More specifically, in understanding the mechanism of translating traditional and native design essences into designs appropriate in current contexts. Sung Jang Laboratory is a platform to freely experiment with this personal design interest with or without client involvement. Sung is a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and holds a Masters in Design from Domus Academy in Milano where he studied under Clino Castelli and several other Italian design masters. He began his career in Milano as a designer and design researcher for Samsung Design Milano before taking an adjunct professor position at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Designed Objects program. In 2013 he became an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Design.
ChiLab is a thinktank for innovation in design, technology, and art based in Chicago, IL.
The collective is comprised of Ben Stagl, Bo Rodda, Chiu Kuan-Wen, Jason Gillette, and Max Davis.
Ben Stagl’s work blurs the boundaries between sculpture, architecture, and interior design. Bo Rodda is a designer, visual artist, technologist, and educator, with a trans-disciplinary background that integrates traditional arts and the sciences with digital, interactive, visual, and industrial design; he has done extensive research into high performance and sustainable design. Chiu Kuan-Wen holds a BA in Economics from National Taipei University (2007) and a Master of Design from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2012). Jason Gillette is an architect and designer whose work aims to mediate the social, infrastructural, and psychological conditions that make up urban life. Max Davis spent five years in the dungeons of Cornell University’s Department of Architecture, Art, and Planning.
Stephanie and Bruce Tharp are award-winning, Chicago-based product designers and educators. Their practice, MATERIOUS, includes commissions and licensing furniture, furnishings, and consumer product ideas to companies like Ligne Roset, Moet-Hennessy, the Art Institute of Chicago, Crate&Barrel, Kikkerland, and Design Ideas. They also self-produce their own commercial designs as well as create critical, noncommercial work. Stephanie and Bruce are both tenured industrial design professors at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and have lectured, exhibited, and published internationally.
StudioBA is American designer Brian Anderson, who studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. From his studio in Chicago he makes object, furniture, and pattern works realized in unique and colorful products that present new visions of familiar forms. Explored through a range of media, his designs are lively configurations of object, history, material, and method.
Collection WEST is an evolving collection of objects, sculptures, housewares and furnishings as well as a platform for an on-going series of online pop-up shops.
Michael Savona makes work to live around. His practice includes books, brands, housewares, objects, printed matter, and websites. Recent projects have been selected by the Society of Typographic Arts for the Chicago Design Archive.
Parsons & Charlesworth
Tim Parsons and Jessica Charlesworth are a Chicago-based British husband and wife working in the realm of experimental and speculative object making. They are both graduates of the Royal College of Art in London; Jessica from the Design Interactions course (2007) and Tim from Design Products (2000). They moved to Chicago in 2010 when Tim accepted the position of Associate Professor in Designed Objects at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.Their work is wide-ranging, from material experimentation and the re-use of found objects, to speculative and narrative-led work. Parsons & Charlesworth have worked with manufacturers in Britain and Europe and exhibited widely, including at the Design Museum, London, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Ace Museum, Los Angeles and MakVienna, Austria.