Last weekend, Kim and I spent some time wandering around Andersonville. We stumbled upon Scout, one of many amazing shops along Clark. I was immediately drawn to the artwork of Michael McGuire (my new favorite Chicago artist). I particularly love his pencil and India ink drawings that combine/confuse nature and urbanism.
You can dive deep into his work, process and philosophies on Michael’s blog, but if you want to see his work in person (which I highly recommend), it can be found at Scout or Las Manos Gallery.
After reading about the Triennale Design Museum on Design Sponge’s Milan City Guide, we were excited to put it on our must-do list. The museum has no permanent installations — while some special exhibits are rotated out monthly, other exhibits are renewed annually. Every year, the museum closes for a month to allow the presentation and set up to be changed, so that it is constantly reinventing itself.
We experienced a Wally World moment on Monday — making the trek there to find that it’s closed on Mondays – and went back for the 2nd attempt yesterday. It was a beautiful museum with a good range of things to see… some kitschy, some psychedelic but mostly contemporary. Our favorite exhibit was Grafica Italiana, a look at graphic design from the 1920s through to present day. We saw covers of Print and Graphis from the 1950s and 1960s, original works by Milton Glaser and countless Italian designers along with old school hand-done layouts and sketches next to the finished printed piece. We also saw the Graphic Standards Manual of the New York Transit system from the 1960s… it looked about 200 pages long. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside, but I had to sneak a few. The arrangement and colors of the exhibit were designed just as well as the pieces they displayed. The Design Cafe was a nice pit stop for coffee and to experience the furniture, where every table and chair is a different piece of contemporary art. If you’re ever in Milan, this museum is a must see for anyone who has a soft spot for design and the obscure.
Over the weekend, we watched a documentary on Charles and Ray Eames called Eames: The Architect and the Painter (available on Netflix). It gives great insight into who they were as individuals and as a couple. Kyle and I have always known them for their furniture, but didn’t realize they had done other things like reinventing the splint for wounded soldiers during WWII and making films — one film being the Power Of Ten:
Do you remember this? We had no idea they did this film. It immediately brought us back to Junior High and watching it in class. I hadn’t seen it since. And look! The picnic people are right by Soldier Field.
This documentary is really inspiring for us. We never thought we’d be a husband and wife team at work… it just happened. So seeing another husband and wife team like Charles and Ray just hits close to home for us. The film lets you in to their relationship, which had its good times and bad, but he needed her just as much as she needed him. Together, they produced brilliant work that was both structurally sound and aesthetically beautiful.
Watching the film reminded me of British-born Andrew Byrom (above, with his wife and son), another thinker and designer who is greatly influenced by the Eames. Andrew creates experimental typefaces out of things like Band-Aids, drinking straws, steel railings, neon lights and kites. He’ll see something while out in the world and it will remind him of a letter… like when he looks at a chair, he sees a lowercase h. At some point he wonders what the rest of this alphabet will look like. And so begins his process of designing the typeface and usually building a 3D form to go along with it.
To hear more about Andrew’s process, check out his TED talk at UCLA last year. To get a glimpse of his more personal side, this interview is a great read. I was lucky to have Andrew as a design professor during his 6-year stint at NIU. He now splits his time between teaching at California State University, creating experimental typefaces, designing for various clients and playing with his 3 sons.
Thanks to Ohn Ho for sharing the interview with Andrew Byrom
The Window Seat is a place to sit back and observe the world around us. This site is a collection of things that inspire us, affect us in some way, or simply make us smile.
The Window Seat is curated by Knoed Creative, a Chicago-based design studio.