Design Roundup: Men, Myths, Meh, MAS

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UIC's proposal for the Obama Presidential Library emphasizes connectivity

UIC’s proposal for the Obama Presidential Library emphasizes connectivity

By Brook Rosini

You remind me of a man, through January 4, 2015
Perhaps the true measure of fame in the twenty-first century is to become the subject of a retrospective exhibition that tours international museums of contemporary art. “David Bowie Is” opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago this month, bringing the Starman down to earth in the down-to-earthiest of places at the tour’s only US stop. Beyond his prolific musical catalog, Bowie has continually reinvented himself to remain relevant and influential in art, design, theater and culture more broadly—what child of the eighties could forget his turn as the Goblin King in “Labyrinth”? That hair! Those meggings! That bulge! Plumb the depths of the man who fell to earth’s creative impulse at the MCA, where you can view more than 400 objects including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork, and rare performance material through January 4, 2015. Fifteen minutes? More like five decades. Andy Warhol, eat your heart out. Find out more and get tix on the MCA’s website.

What man, October 2, 6pm
If you don’t know landscape architect James Corner’s name by now, you must have been living under a rock under the High Line for the past decade. The Corner-designed urban park has been credited with reinvigorating the neighborhoods it runs through in New York City, bringing new development and impacting quality of life on the scale of Central Park. The High Line has even opened the doors for other cities to rethink potential uses for aging and abandoned infrastructure—including our own Bloomingdale Trail aka the 606. Commissioned to redevelop Chicago’s Navy Pier for its 100th anniversary in 2016, Corner is now hard at work on our shores. Corner shares his vision for livable cities at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts on October 2, when he presents “The Ecological Imagination: Life and the Design of Urban Public Space.” The talk marks the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust’s fourth annual Thinking into the Future: The Robie House Series on Architecture, Design and Ideas. Admission prices range from $5 for students to $25, with a cocktail reception at 5pm. Hit up the website for more info. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Looks: Can’t Hyde That Style

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Haena Lee, Medical Sociology PhD student

What’s an ideal back-to-school outfit for you?
I sit at a desk for most of the day analyzing data and writing a paper, so I love to be as comfy as possible. As the temperatures drop, I love to wear skinny jeans with a vintage chunky top (sweater or blouse), leather jacket and sneakers. And I usually team them with jewelry. For some people, their favorite fashion items are shoes or bags but for me it’s jewelry. I think it definitely completes your outfit in a way that adds wow-factor in a subtle way. Most of my jewelry is from vintage stores except rings from my mom.

Where do the stylish people of the UofC usually hang out? Do you know of any fashion blogs run by UofC students?
I usually spotted cute, stylish UofC people at Harper Library on 59th street during the day and at Woodlawn Tap (Jimmy’s) later in the day. I don’t know any UofC people doing fashion blogs but I do know there’s a fashion magazine MODA, University of Chicago’s student-run fashion magazine. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Looks: Fashion Imitates Art

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What’s better than dressing to the nines? Dressing to the nines in the company of some of the world’s best galleries and most creative artwork. These EXPO 2014 Vernissage guests managed to stand out while blending in with seriously cool art.

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Sculpture for the Body: Viviana Langhoff

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Viviana Langhoff is a jewelry designer, metalsmith, and owner of Chicago-based One Origin Jewelry. Inspired by designers such as Lauren Wolf and Van Cleef and Arpels, her studio features necklaces, rings and earrings. Langhoff’s designs represent a nexus of contemporary, experimental and natural threads in jewelry design. “I see jewelry as sculpture for the body,” she says.

Langhoff’s work may be sculptural, but it is also grounded in inspiration from Middle Eastern and Native American art and folklore. Some of the work emerges from observations gleaned during travels abroad. “One thing that I was inspired by recently was the Moroccan beach,” she says. “The colors are really vivid. Morocco can be cliché now because there’s been a huge influx of their patterns and styles, but I’ve always loved tessellations,” geometric tile patterns common in Islamic art. Langhoff minored in Middle Eastern studies while earning a BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and was fascinated by the way that mathematical equations and religious practices come together to form decorative patterns. “If you try to avoid the literal visual representation, the idea is amazing.” Read the rest of this entry »

Designy Mom: What Does It Mean When Lane Tech Dumps Architecture After A Hundred Years?

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After 100 years, Lane Tech closes its architecture program

After 100 years, Lane Tech closes its architecture program

By Krisann Rehbein

It was just announced that the architecture program at Lane Tech College Prep High School will close after 100 years. Lane’s principal cites declining enrollment, retirement of a superstar teacher and competition from other AP courses and electives as his reasons. Architecture has been around at Lane since the days when a key aspect of the curriculum was working in a foundry. But those days are gone. In the past decade, when I worked in Chicago as a design educator, I have seen many fantastic teens who took architecture at Lane go on to do great things. This feels like the end of an era.

Hands down, Lane Tech has dominated teen drafting and design for a decade. Year after year, the school graduates talented students who enroll in four and five year universities to study architecture and engineering. It is a feeder to both the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Illinois Institute of Technology’s architecture and engineering programs. Organizations like the Chicago Architecture Foundation and ACE Mentor serve its students through out-of-school programming, teaching key skills and placing the cream-of-the-crop kids in paid summer internships that would make even a Cornell undergraduate swoon.

Architecture was once offered in dozens of schools across the city. Lindblom. Chicago Vocational. Bowen. Phillips. Clemente. These programs introduced thousands of students to architecture, design, construction and engineering. This resulted directly in more diversity in the field. It’s common for architects to learn about the profession from a neighbor, uncle or parent. But in communities historically underrepresented from the field, such connections are not as immediately accessible. While the overall lack of diversity in the profession continues to be an issue, CPS at least created a pathway—and a promise—for kids across Chicago. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Looks: The One And Only

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Artist Rebecca Kressley ( was attending Stephen Eichhorn’s “Various Fades” opening at Johalla Projects.

Tell me about your dress.
I purchased this in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, at Concetta’s Closet. I was running out of time to find a dress for a wedding; the owner, Dana Hanson, was so wonderfully helpful and her collection is amazing. She has wonderful taste. This dress was made in Thailand in the 1960s. Read the rest of this entry »

Design Roundup: Happenings, Harvests, H4ckz0rs, Hale

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design harvest

Design Harvest, September 20-21

By Brook Rosini

September is a big month for art, architecture and design in Chicago. Like, really big. And the theme of this month’s events is apparently ALL CAPS. I’m exhausted just writing about it all.

EXPO ART WEEK enthusiastically—or at least loudly—reminds us in all caps that ART! IT’S HAPPENING. FOR A WEEK! Of course, we know the art never stops in this town, but during EXPO ART WEEK (sorry to keep shouting about it), Chicago’s venerable, volatile, and in vogue art venues band together to create a critical mass of see-art-and-be-seen-seeing-art events all over the city. From September 15-21, art hop between forty-five of the city’s most prestigious cultural institutions to see museum exhibitions, gallery openings, installations, public art projects, music, theater and dance performances, and special dining experiences. Hit up the website for deets. Read the rest of this entry »

Young Dandies of La Boheme: The Lyric Throws a Costume Sale After Ten Years

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Ten years had passed since the last Lyric Opera costume sale. When the Civic Opera House opened its doors to the throngs of music enthusiasts, history buffs and eBay opportunists on the first weekend of September, the wait was finally over. Doors were set to open at 9am, but early birds had staked out their territory by 5am. By 8:30am, a line stretched from the intersection of Madison and Wacker north to Washington, across the Chicago River, then back to Canal and Madison, nearly half a mile in all.

Some people had never been to the Lyric before and were more interested in seeing its gilded interiors than in buying garments. Some, like Conrad Jahrling, an engineer, were there as part of “a father-son trip. I lured in [my aria-loving dad] by saying he could dress as Wotan, Papageno or Rodolfo.” Some, like the SAIC fashion-design grad behind me in line, were drawn by the rare opportunity to examine the construction of period pieces. Read the rest of this entry »

Wine, Design and a Lesson From Grandmother

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The recently held fourth annual “Wine and Design” event at the Merchandise Mart supported Common Thread for the Cure, a nonprofit whose mission is “to unite the furnishings industry in the battle against breast cancer.” A wine-label design competition serves as the evening’s main event. The winning designs, one for a Chardonnay and another for Pinot Noir, will be featured and sold next year by Russian River Vineyards.

Design industry networking, check. All-you-can-drink wine, check. Graphic design critique, check. Great cause, check. All of my favorite things all in one place, and for the most part, Wine and Design delivered. The scene was as delicious as it was buzzworthy, with plenty of food and wine followed by a late ice-cream course to sate post-work cravings of hundreds of designers.

This year’s theme was “creativity takes courage,” broad and conceptual enough for a wide range of designs. The winning entry for the Pinot was submitted by the firm Ware Malcomb; it featured a sensory, wine stain-inspired label. White wine winner was the firm Perkins Eastman. It was selected for a simple, Swiss-inspired and slightly eroticized breast emblazoned with the word “Chardonnay” as a censor bar. Both designs stood out for their polish, though Ware Malcolmb’s label may easily fade into the background on a random wine shelf. It was a fascinating display; though next year it would be lovely to see label designs mocked up on an actual bottle rather than flat-mounted to cardboard. Read the rest of this entry »

Book Review: William FitzPatrick’s “Work” is Complex, Muscular

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William FitzPatrick's new book is a study in juxtapositions

William FitzPatrick’s new book is a study in juxtapositions

Chicago artist and furniture designer William FitzPatrick’s new book, “WORK,” catalogs a collection of chairs, lights and constructed interiors from the past five years of his design career. Each piece of furniture, and accompanying photo, is a vignette about the relationship within art, construction, and design—and between rationality and experimentation. The book is at once a showcase of FitzPatrick’s design and a representation of the same design aesthetic and geometric shapes that are present in his work.

Inspired by architecture, FitzPatrick’s signature experimental chairs are arranged in photos taken around Chicago. The images are a study in modernism and shape, positive and negative space, and the border between experimental form and function. “WORK” offers subtle views of traditional spaces, with a perspective that would elude a casual viewer. Muscular materials reinforce sharp angles in and around the pieces; positions of the pieces distort a viewer’s perception and offer another layer to what may seem a straightforward piece of furniture. The most striking aspects of the presentation are brightly lit sculptures that brighten black pages, while chairs align with the angles of the book. Read the rest of this entry »