Ann Lui, professor, architect and co-founder of Future Firm, a minority- and women-owned design research practice, is a leader in radical equity. Future Firm aims to create spaces where folks can come together. Lui hopes that the future of design will be “the same weird mix of loss and opportunity, uneven growth and moments for change—some of which all of us will miss entirely but a few of which will grow to change us all in ways we don’t expect.”
Paul Preissner and Paul Andersen
Curators, U.S. Pavilion for the 2020 Venice Biennale
Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner will curate the U.S. Pavilion for the 2020 Venice Biennale this May. Andersen, director of the Independent Architecture firm and clinical associate professor of architecture at UIC, will, alongside Preissner, an associate professor of architecture at UIC, essentially turn the pavilion into a construction site. With “American Framing,” an installation that investigates “the conditions and consequences of American wood-framed construction” the two Pauls respond to the Biennale Architettura’s theme, “How Will We Live Together?”
Seth Deysach, Andrew Kephart, Carson Maddox, Scott Patterson, Dan Sullivan and Zak Rose
Dock 6 Collective
“Chicago has always been an incubator of talent and opportunity,” says Dan Sullivan of Navillus WoodWorks. “Our location, relative affordability, and high concentration of educational institutions ensure that it will remain a regional draw and international icon. Continued relevance will depend on our ability to empower our large immigrant population and revitalize the parts of the city that have been left behind as we settle into the twenty-first century,” he adds before diving into his future projects. “Currently Navillus has teamed up with Dock 6 partners to build all of the workstations and conference tables for the new offices of Skidmore Owings & Merrill—this is a big project and an incredible opportunity; literally providing the platforms on which much of the world’s great architecture will be designed for decades to come,” he says, keeping busy with upcoming Dock 6 projects including a large-scale outdoor sculpture for Edra Soto, building the interior for Ever (the visionaries behind the acclaimed restaurant Grace), and launching the Dock 6 Collection at Central Standard, Chicago’s newest furniture, object and design show in early June. He explains the Dock 6 Collection is a collection of original furniture designed by five of the Dock 6 Collective principals: Seth Deysach, Andrew Kephart, Carson Maddox, Dan Sullivan and Zak Rose that started this venture to market designs to a larger audience, nationally and beyond. One to keep an eye on? “The thirteenth edition of Dock 6 Design & Art featuring curated art and design objects shown throughout our fifty-thousand-square-foot facility in the Cragin neighborhood is coming up this June,” he says.
Brad Lynch and Jen Park
Brininstool + Lynch
Brininstool + Lynch has spent the past three decades striving for an “evolution of Chicago Modernism.” While Brad Lynch co-founded the firm, Jen Park joined the team in 2019. “It’s a great fit primarily because our values align both with design and culture of the firm,” says Park, who brings bright prospects to the firm with diversity, equity and inclusion, at the center of her career. Lynch says that whatever the future holds, his team strives to design “in a way that is as equitable and environmentally conscious as it is beautiful.”
Sung Jang Laboratory; UIC Industrial Design Program
Industrial designer Sung Jang works at the intersection of fine arts and technical problem-solving. As a university professor, he emphasizes “the idea of the designer as an agency for connecting and synthesizing ideas.” In his studio, Jang builds abstract forms and furniture with objects that he calls “Mobi,” a modular form with conceptual roots. “The Mobi experiment initially did not start with an interest in modularity. I was more interested in the perceptual effect of scale and complexity in objects created by repetition.” After seventeen years in Chicago, Jang feels a deep respect for the city’s rich industrial history.
South Side braiding artist Shani Crowe has come a long way since learning how to braid as a child: among her accomplishments, she was selected to represent the United States in the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale with “Thrival Geographies (In My Mind I See a Line)”—which was displayed at Wrightwood 659 gallery last year. Her work has been featured in multiple galleries and museums, including The Broad in Los Angeles, the Museum of Contemporary African and Diasporan Art (MoCADA) in Brooklyn and the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art in Grand Rapids. On television, she was responsible for Solange Knowles’ iconic bedazzled halo hair for a “Saturday Night Live” performance. “Braiding isn’t the only medium I use in my artistic practice,” Crowe says. “But it’s important for me to give honor to my experience and all that it has given me. Hair is an important part of black and African culture. It’s a means through which we express ourselves and, unfortunately, is one of the most policed aspects of our appearance.”
Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero
They took over the Mies van der Rohe-designed Farnsworth House, turning it into an otherworldly space—their light-based art intervention in collaboration with Iker Gill that incorporated laser beams to explore the geometries that connect the structure to the natural landscape was the talk of the design world this past year. They went on to Millennium Park, where their work, “Requiem: A White Wanderer” reveals the connection between climate change and sea-level rise. Inspired by Larsen-C, a 120-mile long crack along the Antarctic ice shelf that broke into a trillion-ton iceberg in 2017, Luftwerk showcased a three-day sound installation at the Pritzker Pavilion with composer and improviser Katherine Young. Carefully studying light, color and perception, Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero have spent over a decade producing site-specific interventions in response to architecture and public spaces. Their experience-based installations are highly immersive, their ideas always fresh and unexpected and there’s only one thing for the Chicago design folk left to do: wait to see what they come up with next.
An artist who trained as an architect, Bridgeport-based Amanda Williams claims her rightful place in both worlds. Walking the fine line between art and architecture, she creates boundary-pushing work that investigates color, race, space and community as well as the social issues that affect our city. An example: her “Color(ed) Theory” project found her painting eight abandoned houses in bold colors in an effort to make one think: What color is urban? What color is gentrification? What color is privilege?
Nick Cave and Bob Faust
This year’s “Designers of the Moment,” Nick Cave and Bob Faust are about the community. Facility, a new multidisciplinary art space, was brought to life a little more than a year ago by Cave, the interdisciplinary artist and educator, and Faust, his design-focused personal and professional partner to do just that: facilitate collaboration between Chicago creatives. Part studio, part gallery, part living space, Facility is a little bit of everything, but mainly an incubator—space for creatives across all realms, much like its founders. And if the name Facility gives you Andy Warhol Factory vibes, you’re right. But Faust needs you to dig deeper—into the idea of people-centered engagement for everyone.
Off-White; Louis Vuitton
What is there to say about Virgil Abloh that hasn’t already been said? The Chicago kid turned designer, artist, DJ, founder of Milan-based label Off-White and Louis Vuitton creative director is now world-famous for more than bringing vintage and streetwear into the high-fashion spotlight. It feels like there’s nothing he can’t—or won’t—do and that everything he touches turns into trendsetting gold. Existing at the intersection of fashion, design, music and architecture informs his worldview and his creative ideas, which is why he’s making waves across all realms—whether his latest runway show, his 2019 retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art or his much-anticipated statement-heavy IKEA collection, MARKERAD, that had thousands of people line up for the drop outside the stores across the world.
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