“Clothing can be a vehicle for different conversations. It’s something that we all participate in every single day,” says designer Abigail Glaum-Lathbury, citing Make America Great Again hats and pussy hats as examples of how we wear politics on our sleeves—or our heads. After running her own collection of ready-to-wear women’s clothing for ten years, Glaum-Lathbury embarked on the nascent field of critical fashion, which treats clothing design not as a commercial practice, but as a form of social commentary. A political but playful angle runs through her work, which ranges from open-source patterns to democratized jumpsuits. Her next series uses fashion to explore copyright and trademark law. Its name? The Genuine Unauthorized Clothing Clone Institute, or Project G.U.C.C.I. for short.
Owner, Silver Room
At the intersection of art, culture, and community, Eric Williams has striven to make a difference for twenty years, whether at his Silver Room boutique—where handpicked artwork, one-of-a-kind clothing, whimsical jewelry, accessories and home goods, and even a carefully curated selection of music peacefully coexist—or organizing the annual Silver Room Sound System Block Party, a community event to celebrate cultural diversity through expression, music and art, that has become an institution in the Hyde Park neighborhood as well as Chicago at-large.
Founder, ColorJar, The Big Jump
“The power of great brand design will transform Chicago,” says David Gardner, founder of brand consulting and design firm Colorjar, which specializes in revitalizing brands at key moments of change in order to drive more effective business results. “As ColorJar reinvents iconic Chicago brands, they each add fuel to the city becoming its best,” he says. “We see ourselves as part of a larger creative community of brand, design and art professionals who work to shape the city we love.” Gardner, who was a pro basketball player before he founded, from his bedroom, the company that has grown into one of Chicago’s top-rated branding firms, is about keeping busy. His latest venture: The Big Jump—a podcast about human reinvention where, as he explains it, he sits down with pro athletes to discuss how they’ve leveraged their athletic minds for success beyond sports.
Co-Founder and Director of Innovation Services, mHUB
“Five years ago when we set out to build mHUB, my vision was to retain the talent and bright minds that were leaving the Midwest,” says co-founder Bill Fienup, a mechanical engineer, product developer and serial entrepreneur. “We’ve done a great job creating the conditions for product innovation to thrive. We have given our community access to an ecosystem with all the equipment, mentorship, talent, manufacturing connections and resources teams need to be successful in launching new companies,” he says, describing Chicago’s first innovation center focused on physical product development and manufacturing. His vision? Chicago becoming the epicenter of product innovation for the United States and attracting thought leaders from around the country to join our collaborative culture, where ideas are shared and built upon to invent life-changing products and technologies.
Thanks to Jason Fried and co-author David Heinemeier Hansson, you have the perfect gift for your boss. “It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work” is a book on why shorter hours make for happier and more productive employees. At Basecamp, an online task and project management system, employees are gently discouraged from working more than forty hours a week. Fried is living proof that the approach pays off.
Director, School of Architecture, UIC Chicago
Robert Somol has fully embraced the architecture profession’s diversity of practice in the UIC Chicago’s programming since 2007. Somol, an accomplished author, design critic and theorist, puts education experience in the spotlight so students attain the skills and mindset to tackle the unscripted future of architectural practice. Under Somol’s leadership, the institution and practicing faculty have forged deep partnerships with institutions and cultural events to immerse students in possibilities.
Curator of Exhibitions, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
Greg Lunceford, curator of exhibitions at the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, deserves a public service medal for his long-standing efforts to place Chicago visual culture front and center. “Design, at its core, is a solution-based concept. One which patiently listens for answers and delivers ideas,” Lunceford says. “That offering has many choices, be it public art, community-based activations, formal exhibitions, performance or even procession. The concept will show you the best avenue for impact. To be honest, I’m not sure how my work contributes to the design scene, it’s not my focus. I’m concerned with where we’ll be in a few years and how will my work be timely and engaging to future questions.” Among those future questions, Lunceford highlights archives as a turning point, and points to the current Goat Island Archive exhibit as a prime example. Archives “are living testaments eager to teach and inspire. This particular exhibition has been devised to replicate the generative and pedagogic processes of Goat Island while reflecting upon the extent of the company’s influences. We’ve spent the better part of two years focusing on how to present, and in fact extend, this particular archive. This international project will combine display, performance, collaboration and convening.”
Bonnie McDonald and Lisa DiChiera
President-CEO and Director of Advocacy, Landmarks Illinois
Bonnie McDonald and Lisa DiChiera lead a team at Landmarks Illinois that receives over 5,000 requests each year from Illinois residents who hope to protect the built environment in their communities. Approximately two out of five of these requests pertain to landmarks in Chicago. Preservation efforts operate on multiple levels: rescuing specific buildings from demolition (such as the Harley Clark Mansion in Evanston); concentrating attention and resources on neighborhoods (recently, Bronzeville); and advocacy for legislative incentives for preservation and adaptive reuse, like the state’s historic tax credit.
Lynn Osmond and Michael Wood
President-CEO and Senior Director of Program Strategy, Chicago Architecture Center
The Chicago Architecture Center, which began in 1955 as the Chicago Architecture Foundation, has been headed by Lynn Osmond since 1996, offering guided tours of the city with memorable docents and the only real, true, best Architecture River Cruise. Iin 2010, Osmond hired Michael Wood as director of program strategy and they, along with their team at CAC, have expanded programming for both the public and professionals through exhibitions, competitions and public engagement in architectural and urban thinking. This dynamic growth culminated in their relocation into an Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill-designed space in Mies van der Rohe’s 111 East Wacker Drive, along with a premiere exhibition of designs for the new O’Hare Terminal.
Founding Partner, Multiple, Inc.
Dave Mason is passionate about design and how it permeates our daily lives. A founding partner of the graphic communication firm Multiple, Inc., Mason has spent his professional life creating brand experiences for a wide-ranging portfolio of clients. He’s as multifaceted as his client roster, incubating ventures like the Cusp Conference, a Chicago-based meeting that has celebrated the cross-pollination of ideas for more than a decade. With collaborators, Mason’s most ambitious project is PowerPlayer, described as a “sports feedback platform” a data-driven tool designed to measure youth athletes’ sports practice. “Too much emphasis is put on winning and losing at the game,” he says. Mason feels there’s value in providing metrics on the behavioral nuances of the practice process as an integral component of the game. PowerPlayer is steaming ahead with investors and early coach-leadership support across the United States, Canada and Europe.
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