Hey! Play! Games in Modern Culture

HEY! PLAY! Games in Modern Culture
October 20, 2017–March 10, 2018

Games are a rich, dynamic medium that live in consoles and controllers as much as they do our own bodies, minds, and social relationships. The gaming industry is worth more than $100 billion and stretches far beyond what we typically see. Artists and designers are creating games about personal challenges, games that facilitate spiritual awakening, and games that challenge, edify, and critique our societies and cultures. This exhibition will showcase a cross-section of compelling examples from this diverse medium and demonstrate that at heart, we are all gamers.

Curated by Brian Schrank, Chair of Game Design and Associate Professor at DePaul University, and LeAnne Wagner, Partner at Adjust Creative and Professional Lecturer at DePaul University.
Exhibition Chair: Lance Curran.

Hey! Play! Games in Modern Culture is sponsored by School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Emporium Arcade Bar, Tribeca Flashpoint College, 21st Amendment, M1 Interactive and Code of Conduct Tattoo.

Great Ideas of Humanity

Great Ideas of Humanity: Out of the Container
April 20–August 18, 2018

In 1817, English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote: “Language is the armory of the human mind; and at once contains the trophies of its past, and the weapons of its future conquests," and this still rings true in our complex and divided world. It is essential to celebrate and share the ideas that unite us, inspire us, and caution us; to consider ideas that transcend our individual worldviews and establish a common ground that binds us.

A reimagining of Container Corporation of America's stunning advertising campaign, Great Ideas of Western Man, Great Ideas of Humanity: Out of the Container highlights a broad spectrum of human thought and reminds us that, sometimes, looking to the past helps to comprehend the present.

Past Exhibitions

Confluence • 20+

Confluence • 20+ Creative Ecologies of Hong Kong
October 14, 2017–November 4, 2017

Confluence • 20+ is a monumental roving exhibition series showcasing a wealth of collaborative works by best talents in the Hong Kong design scene. It is a stage for creative collisions celebrating the co-evolving and interdependent communities in Hong Kong’s creative industry. The exhibition presents twenty collaborative design research projects by Hong Kong’s design talent, lending insights into the co-evolving ecosystems of the city where East and West, tradition and innovation, craftsmanship and technology synergize.

The exhibition has sojourned in Milan, Hong Kong and Seoul. This Chicago Edition is the final stop of the exhibition series, and will continue to feature twenty collaborative and design research projects presented by Hong Kong’s design talent across disciplines.

With the support from Create Hong Kong of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in New York, Confluence • 20+ is a project of Hong Kong Design Centre, with the Chicago Design Museum.

Dan Friedman: Radical Modernist

Dan Friedman: Radical Modernist
April 28, 2017–August 12, 2017

Dan Friedman: Radical Modernist is a design exhibition that explores the work of designer and artist Dan Friedman (1945–1995). Curated by Friedman himself, it reaffirms the twentieth-century tenets of modernism, rejects corporate style, and advocates for expression and purpose in one’s work. A combination of objects, photography, and Friedman’s philosophy on work and life, the show celebrates risk, experimentation, and optimism.

Originally created by Dan Friedman himself, it continues to be shown by his brother Ken Friedman, with the curatorial assistance of Chris and Esther Pullman, and Mara Holt Skov and Steven Skov Holt.

Great Ideas

ChicagoMade: Great Ideas of Humanity
December 1–3, 2016

In 1952, Encyclopedia Britannica published Mortimer Adler’s monumental Great Books of the Western World series—431 works by 71 authors—covering core ideas of the Western canon. Inspired by these works and with a desire to engage the general public in cultural discourse, Walter Paepcke, founder of Container Corporation of America, initiated an unprecedented advertising campaign, the Great Ideas of Western Man.

With reverence and enthusiasm, the Chicago Design Museum is renewing this historic series. Our reprise, the Great Ideas of Humanity, is now being exhibited at the Business of Design Week conference in Hong Kong from December 1–3, and on bus stations across the Chicago Loop throughout the year.

Organized by the ChiDM Great Ideas committee.

Learn more:

City of Ideas

City of Ideas: Architects' Voices and Visions
October 28, 2016–February 25, 2017

City of Ideas: Architects’ Voices and Visions is an ongoing conceptual installation project, inaugurated at Sydney University’s Tin Sheds Gallery and traveling to ChiDM from October 2016 to February 2017. Its key objective is to present original voices and visions of leading international architects recorded and transcribed by curator Vladimir Belogolovsky.

Each installation will include different groups of voices, interpreted through continuously changing design by local artists, architects, and designers through collaboration with its curator. The architects’ voices can be presented in their entirety or fragmented according to visions of local designers. In our iteration, they will be accompanied by text and image, and the installation will include a performance stage that will record new voices of local architects to join the evolving conversation.

Curated by Vladimir Belogolovsky.


Unfolded: Made with Paper
April 5, 2016–August 27, 2016

We are undoubtedly living in an era of digital technology, when more and more aspects of our lives are playing out on screens. Yet paper remains unparalleled in its importance and usefulness in design. Today’s designers, artists, and architects rely heavily on paper-based materials in the development, communication, and presentation of their ideas. Inspired by Container Corporation of America’s 1967 exhibition Made with Paper, Unfolded explores the unique properties of paper as a medium, as well as the diverse applications of paper as a means and an end in the work of contemporary designers and artists.

Unfolded highlights the work of the Chicago design community, but also includes contributions from around the world. Contributors include 3st, Alexander Skoirchet, Anna Filbert, Anna Mort, Art Paul, Barbara Cooper, Béatrice Coron, Bob Faust, Bobby Reichle, Bradford Hansen-Smith, Brian Bailey, Brian Steckel, Carly Faye Smith, Chad Kouri, Christian Saucedo, Cody Hudson, Coralie Gourguechon, Crew Potter, Daniel Le, Debbie Millman, Department of Scale, Eric Wolinsky, Hey J Min, Jason Michael Barrera, Jenna Blazevich, John Greiner, John Terdich, Joseph Michael Essex, Josh Grotto, Julie VonDerVellen, Karah McGeown, Ken Ragsdale, Kendall Bruns, Kitemath, Martin Venezky, Michal Janicki, Pegah Ahmadi, Pouya Ahmadi, Reina Takahashi, Renata Graw, Richard Shipps, Steve Messam, Trisha Martin, Yoonshin Park, Yuge Zhou, and Zim & Zou.

Organized by the ChiDM curatorial committee.
Exhibition chair: Andrew Dembitz.

New Horizon

New Horizon: Architecture from Ireland
October 2, 2015–January 30, 2016

The Chicago Design Museum and Irish Design (ID2015) present New Horizon: Architecture from Ireland as an Affiliate Program Partner of the Chicago Architecture Biennial. New Horizon represents an international extension of a year-long initiative backed by the Irish government exploring, promoting and celebrating Irish design throughout Ireland and internationally. New Horizon features installations by ten dynamic emerging architecture practices from Ireland across three global partner cities: London, Chicago and Shenzhen.

In our gallery, three Dublin-based firms—A2 Architects, GKMP Architects, and Ryan Kennihan—create an intervention, part installation, part exhibition. The design concept pays tribute to Chicago’s famous grid system established by Daniel Burnham in the Plan of Chicago and the world famous architecture of Mies van der Rohe. The physical expression of the installation features a mirrored ceiling that visually extends a supporting grid of i-beams out to infinity. A large communal table—inspired by traditional decorative arts of Ireland—showcases the work of each firm via stories, models, drawings and photographs.

Curated by Raymund Ryan and Nathalie Weadick.

The State of Detroit: Photograph of urban farming recipe exchange wall in the foreground, with red rolling tool cabinet in the background

The State of Detroit
April 28, 2015–August 29, 2015

When characterizing mobility in Detroit, America’s Motor City, the auto industry and networks of transportation are often first to mind. The idea of movement, to, from and within the city dates back to early European settlers and traders, through the surge of Southerners seeking work in the mid-twentieth century, to the recent migration of young creatives in search of what has been called the last American frontier. However, expanded ideas of mobility, and also, stability, are not tied strictly to the reality of physical movement.

With an understanding of the city’s explosive growth, followed by its continued decline, mobility can also be understood as social, political, and economic. Each of these areas also face the realities of immobility, which can be seen as the limitations and constraints set by the city’s current conditions. It is through this lens and in employing creative thinking and innovative practice that initiatives in Detroit shape the metropolis’ culture, values and potential. Design is everywhere in Detroit.

Curated by Elizabeth Cummings and Morgan Walsh.

Deborah Sussman Loves Los Angeles: Photograph of reading room, and environmental color wrap

Deborah Sussman Loves Los Angeles!
November 13, 2014–February 28, 2015

This exhibition recognizes an iconic designer who has helped shape the visual landscape of Los Angeles and define the field of environmental graphic design. It focuses on the early career of Deborah Sussman (1931-2014), highlighting projects that illuminate formative years in her professional development and in the growth of Los Angeles as a cultural center and a global city.

Sussman spent the early part of her career working at the Los Angeles office of Charles and Ray Eames. There, Sussman was introduced to the city and developed a multidisciplinary design approach that she eventually applied to both her work and office culture. In 1984, her designs Los Angeles Olympic Games catapulted the city onto the world stage in a kaleidoscope of colors that came to define not only the look of the Games but the city itself. Through its expanding scale and exuberant use of color, her graphic design tracks a path between modern and postmodern design and across the changing landscape of Los Angeles as it grew dramatically in size, density, and diversity from the 1950s to the 1980s. This examination of the first thirty years of Sussman’s career invites further scholarship on women’s roles in collaborative design projects in Los Angeles and the nation at large during a time period dominated by male practitioners.

Curated by Barbara Bestor, Catherine Gudis, Tom Kracauer and Shannon Starkey. Organized in Chicago by Matthew Terdich, Elizabeth Cummings and Morgan Walsh.

Starts/Speculations: Photograph of the gallery with hanging walls, vitrines, and built partition

Starts/Speculations: Graphic Design in Chicago Past and Future
June 12, 2014–September 30, 2014

Inspired by the past century of design achievement and looking toward the future with insight and creativity, Starts/Speculations represents an anthology of work from Chicago’s graphic design legacy and a glimpse into how the tools we use to design and communicate could evolve and influence our interactions in the future.

Beginning with a letter that articulates visual design standards for the 1909 Plan of Chicago by Daniel Burnham and Edward H. Bennett, the exhibition is a broad overview of the past century of graphic design in Chicago with a particular focus on the influence of European modernism through the establishment of the New Bauhaus in 1937. As the Chicago Design Museum evolves and grows, we look forward to exploring and sharing more of Chicago’s design legacy by unearthing the stories that make our city unique, as well as highlighting dynamic influences from across cultures, borders, and disciplines. We consider this the start of something more—more ideas, more conversations and more discovery. The glimpse into the future includes work from Chris Eichenseer, Jonathan Petersen (with animation by Tommy Dalton), Matt Wizinsky, Other Forms, The Post Family, Plural and Studio Blue

Organized by the ChiDM Curatorial Committee: Robyn Paprocki, Morgan Walsh; Exhibition Director: Matthew Terdich

Work at Play: Photograph of patron standing in a large, raw space observing a mural

Work at Play
June 1, 2013–June 30, 2013

For many, the compulsion to create is constant. It's unstoppable. Beyond the hours at the office, we create, we make—we play. In an attempt to find our own voice, we may stumble upon a visual language that can speak for and, perhaps, inspire others. This exhibition celebrates the blurred line between work and play. Exhibitors included Marian Bantjes, John Massey, Michael C. Place and Wolfgang Weingart. Work at Play also included Re/View, a special exhibition which included Christopher Branson Mollie Edgar, Kyle Fletcher, Renata Graw/Plural, Matthew Hoffman, Chad Kouri, Negative Spaceship, Eddie Opara, Thomas Quinn, Bojan Radojcic, Sam Stephenson, Simon Renaud, Véronique Pêcheux and Magdalena Wistuba.

Everything we see is a cognitive interpretation of the light around us. Often, we blindly trust that what we are seeing is objective–we assume our vision is reality. Yet, sometimes we're forced into the realization that there's a gap between what's actually there, and what we perceive. The truth of vision is that it is subjective, dependent on our point of view. With this insight, we are able to stand outside of our tendency to simply believe what we see and re-examine—review.

Organized by the Chicago Design Museum Board.

Art on Track: Photograph of marquee signage from the Chicago Theater hanging on a blue line train car

A—Z: Art on Track
September 22, 2012

Typography surrounds you. From formal communication to vernacular signage, letterforms have been rearranged and redesigned for centuries in an effort to make language visible. From designers, to typesetters, graffiti artists, businessmen and your grandmother, people rely on typography for everything from the commute to work to planning complex surgeries. Yet, good designers strive to make their work invisible, because if you're focusing on the form of the letter, you have less time to understand its implied content. Alternatively, you must consider a designer's ability to alter the context and form of a typeface, in an effort to convince you of something disingenuous. This exhibition, a collaborative effort between ChiDM and Architectural Artifacts, strives to remove local, historical typography from its original context, allowing you to understand it for what it is. Form and medium, without content.

A—Z is a collaborative exhibition between the Chicago Design Museum and Architectural Artifacts that removes local, historical typography from its original context and provides an opportunity to educate the public on its importance. Art on Track is the world’s largest mobile art gallery. It takes place on board a moving six-car CTA train. Each train car is given over for free to a different local artist or arts group to curate. You are invited to board the train and view the artwork. Once aboard the train, passengers in the gallery are encouraged to explore and engage with the artists and artwork.

Organized in partnership with Tristan Hummel and Architectural Artifacts.

Inaugural pop-up: Photograph of a gallery full of patrons during our first opening reception

700 N. Sacramento: Inaugural Pop-Up
June 1, 2012–June 30, 2012

There are ideas, and there are ideas that consume you. Ideas that require your complete attention before your first cup of coffee, and remind you that a 40-hour week is only part-time. These ideas have the power to connect communities, and come with a requirement of excellence that you can’t compromise on. We’d like to encourage you to follow the ideas you’re unable to ignore, wherever they may lead you. Ours brought us here, to this moment. We’re honored to share it with you.

This installation represents the Chicago Design Museum's debut as a pop-up institution, where the museum temporarily occupied a 6,000 square-feet in this gorgeous Humboldt Park commercial loft space, complete with skyline views of the city and brick and timber construction. The building was originally the manufacturing facility of Cribben and Sexton Co.’s Universal stoves and ranges, and has undergone $4 million of ground-up renovations. Exhibitions included Debbie Millman: Look Both Ways, Ed Fella: More Into Less, IBM100, an homage to Alexander Rodchenko, and Fresh Produced, a juried exhibition that asked prominent, local designers to celebrate hand-painted signage.

Organized by the Chicago Design Museum Board.