Hovet Fashion Studio
Anna Hovet has been a constant and highly productive fixture on the local fashion scene for over a decade. With the experience of her own athleisure line behind her, she runs Hovet Fashion Studio, a creative workspace to educate emerging fashion designers and hobbyists in all things fashion-related. “We have an incredible team of Chicago fashion designers who teach classes, do business consulting and help clients who are starting fashion lines,” she says. “I love working using my knowledge and Chicago connections to help talented designers [build] their businesses.” She encourages her pupils to create “something special or niche, not just pretty clothes.” Hovet is also a programming director at the Chicago Fashion Incubator, where she once was an artist-in-residence, and a fashion illustration instructor at the School of the Art Institute, which she graduated from in 2007.
“I started sharing my fashion sketches on Instagram a few years ago while also working full-time for a corporate retailer,” says Kristine Steiner, adding “clients began reaching out to commission projects and hire me for events. Eventually, I had enough business that I was able to leave my job and focus full-time on illustration.” This includes working for multiple iconic brands such as Ferragamo, Louis Vuitton and Prada. Steiner’s bread-and-butter comes from illustrating guests at events, and making illustrations from photos clients send her. She also creates branding and logo projects. She says the illustration business is not as hard as it seems: “Chicago is a wonderful market for fashion illustration. We have major retail flagships down Michigan Avenue and Oak Street that host events all the time. There’s a ton of interest in the fashion industry here and the creative community is extremely supportive.” In supporting beginners herself, she advises: “Draw as much as you can, share your work, and don’t get discouraged by comparing yourself to other artists. There are many paths to turning illustration into a career.”
Field of Grass
“Privately shared experience has a reaffirming power,” says Tim Breen, “something that we move with through time, images and objects we return to, the lingering effects of a live performance. There are hundreds of physical items we touch every day that are worth our attention. It’s inspiring to see friends and colleagues focus on these kinds of micro-expressions. Making things that are exceptionally unique for no good reason.” Existing in the art, design and music worlds all at once, Breen has collaborated with artists, record labels, publishers, developers and regional makers for decades to do that. He also founded Field of Grass, a Chicago-based design company that takes on print and multimedia projects. “We have a stack of records we designed coming out this year, a ton of new beer labels, and an archival book project. I’m also excited about the results of last year’s experiments in animation and live projection,” he says. Breen served as art director for the sculptural performance with Jaime Fennelly (aka Mind Over Mirrors) at the MCA Chicago in 2018. Among his greatest recognitions? Two Grammy nominations for his design work with the Numero Group. “The journey continues,” he says.
“Furniture design was not a popular design career path back in Taiwan,” says Chinhua Lin, who holds a furniture designer position at Holly Hunt following her master in designed objects degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a bachelor’s in industrial design. Inspired by everyday objects, architecture, interiors, graphics, photography, fashion and pretty much everything around her, Lin explains: “I’m accustomed to observing the form, the outline, the color of all objects I see and how it ‘lives’ in the environment. And ‘proportion,’ above all, is what I appreciate the most—it is satisfying to find elements balancing beautifully with each other.” Her proudest moment? “Definitely the Holly Hunt Outdoor Sonoran Collection,” she says. But through her early work, she managed to take the art world’s breath away: an aluminum stool—a take on a “burr puzzle,” in which the object must be put together a certain way to maintain connection—showcases Lin’s desire is to promote human empathy with objects, and how that sensation is translated into behavior.
Big Hair Big City
Elizabeth Margulis has really big hair, just as her brand implies. An artist, a commercial and editorial stylist and an overall creative force of nature, she brings insights and experiences from multicultural surroundings—see London, Paris and Moscow—into her work creating unexpected combinations of color, pattern and fabric in an effort to set new standards for style, one photo shoot at a time. “2020 is the year for visionaries; more collaborations, more sustainability, and more growth. Chicago designers are pushing the boundaries beyond modern styles and paving their way in the contemporary world,” she says. “Buildings are transforming into artwork, designers are winning competitions, interactive installations are coming to life; the city is finally starting to unite with established brands and a platform is growing for new brands to be launched. Creatives being able to express their imagination for the world to see has never been so real here. We are no longer the underdogs, the light is being shined on us.” Margulis, who also serves as chief marketing officer at nano amplified sparkling hemp water, Hush Aqua, is all about the big vision. To top it all off, with a personality as big as her wardrobe—as she puts it—a warm smile and a killer outfit, she is sure to leave an impression—much like her hair.
Jacob Lindgren and Paul Zdon
What do the Chicago Art Book Fair, the London Centre for Book Arts, the Domains journals and the UIC United Faculty poster have in common? Platform, the Chicago-based graphic design studio of Jacob Lindgren and Paul Zdon, tending to their visual identity (think website, posters, program, exhibition signage) and publishing needs. Their distinctive minimalistic aesthetic is palpable throughout their work in any medium. Bold primary colors and strong typefaces collide with simple black-and-white patterns, creating playful combinations and memorable graphics that stick in the mind long after the conversation wraps up. For a young studio, this is a sign that Platform is on the right path. As for its founders, they keep learning by keeping up with the next pressing demand. “In the near future, we mostly hope to stay afloat. Working in a way that’s sustainable and healthy for us is, unsurprisingly, not very lucrative at the moment,” the founders say. “The best we can do is use our practice as a model to encourage our peers to do the same.”
Carrie Norman and Thomas Kelley
“Everything is personal and everything is intimate,” Thomas Kelley says of his and Carrie Norman’s work from their collaborative, which operates in both Chicago and New Orleans. With individual attention given to the personality of each client, the Norman Kelley studio recently showcased this intimacy as they provided the interactive backdrop for Brendan Fernandez’s ballet exhibition for the Whitney Biennial. With a mission to reexamine architecture and design, Kelley believes the future holds consideration for what has already been established. “I hope we take a closer look at the found or the existing as opposed to perpetual innovation or invention. There’s such a rich history to Chicago; it’s great to see that history used in the present.”
Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmeyer
Design with Company
The Design With Company (Dw/Co) is all about reading between the lines. Midwest natives Stewart Hicks and Allison Newmeyer spelunk the depths of contemporary and historical lore. From these depths, their designs collage spaces that can be unreal or real, boring or surreal. Their practice is an homage to what they love, taking the domestic spirit of their home and putting on a show.
Pete Oyler and Nora Mattingly
With approaches described as “interdisciplinary in spirit and process,” Pete Oyler and Nora Mattingly of Assembly Design create more than just furniture—they create intimate moments out of the everyday object. Their practice combines the traditional with the unexpected. According to Assembly Design’s website, “The more we can know and understand about materials, processes and techniques, the more creative power we have.”
David Salkin Creative
David Salkin is enjoying the recent wave of appreciation of the Bauhaus-Chicago connections, and our city’s essential position in the development of modernist design languages. “I hope Chicago architects and designers continue to explore the freedom and optimism of modernism, relying less on irony and immateriality,” he says. Meanwhile, Salkin continues to work on custom rugs and wall coverings, hoping that this year brings opportunities of larger scale and reach, to provide complex and engaging site-specific patterns and compositions to civic, hospitality and other public design realms. “Site-specific surface design is an undervalued and efficient tool for the creation of special, memorable spaces,” he says.
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