Something Old. Something New. Something Borrowed.


Image by Nathalie J Siegel

While digital agencies, Razorfish, and 1871 modernize the feel of the iconic, Art Deco fortress, the Merchandise Mart brings in its rich past of a former Native American trading post, by hosting international luxury retail trade shows. A former leather factory warehouse turned SoHo House brings its rich heritage by designing an open, lofty gym with a professional boxing ring, leather upholstered furnishings and vintage leather equipment, These are examples of preserving the past with the present and the future.
The Mart recently held the annual Chicago Design Summit hosted by industry trendsetters and top-shelf publication editors. A panel discussion entitled, The Design, Development, and Sustainability in Chicago, involved topics on designing consciously for the future and preserving what’s old and at stake.

Andrea Mills, editor-in-chief of Modern Luxury Interiors Chicago, moderated this high-energy discussion. An impressive collection of speakers included Franck Nataf, co-owner of family generation line, Exquisite Surfaces, Summer Thornton, owner of Summer Thornton Design, and Jeff Shapack, CEO of Shapack Partners.

Nataf, co-owner of family generation line, Exquisite Surfaces, graciously hosted this discussion at his showroom. He travels the world with his immediate family to unchartered lands in finding versatile materials that have a well-kept history in its appearance. Once salvaged, these materials would be handcrafted and reproduced naturally by local artisans. Having access to a wild mix of material outsourcing helps develop smart, natural ways in sustainable design.

Thornton, another speaker, voted by local design magazines as a “Rising Star” and as “Chicago’s Best Transitional Designer”, is known for her bold and colorful work. Whether in environments of Lincoln Park or Telluride, Colorado, the firm tries to educate and set an example of long-term, sustainability for clients, the community, and for the public at large.

One of Shapack’s projects that face-lifted the Fulton Market area was the Soho House. For example, the historic water tower enclosure, in the back of the building, was not code-compliant according to engineer walk thru’s. The structural plank supports were removed and repurposed as a lobby mural. While more expensive, the firm focused on re-celebrating the time period for materials that had a story, including saving a Neo-Classical portico.

All in all, these cool tastemakers of design enjoyed educating and enlightening the audience on smart, dynamic trends in sustainable design.

Written by Nathalie J Siegel


Congress for New Urbanism Charter Awards Book

Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) Charter Awards Book 2014
Award of Merit, Best Block category, Market Square Place, Pittsburgh, PA, Page 20

Awards recognize design excellence of projects per Charter categories of walkable urbanism. This book is placed on coffee tables and desks of governmental leaders and at college libraries. (Edited by Editor) 

Market Square Place, page 20  Image linkCNU

Chicago Design Museum Partnership with DCASE for the Great Ideas of Humanity

29 August 2016

For Immediate Release:

CHICAGO—August 29 2016

The Chicago Design Museum (ChiDM) is proud to announce a partnership with
Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) to showcase the
Great Ideas of Humanity throughout Loop Link locations.
The Great Ideas of Humanity series was inspired by Mortimer Adler’s
monumental Great Books of the Western World series—431 works by 71 authors
—based on ideas of the Western Canon. The Encyclopedia Britannica published
this series in 1952.

Inspired by the Great Books and with a desire to engage the public in cultural
conversation, the Container Corporation of America (CCA) sponsored the
advertising campaign, the Great Ideas of Western Man. For 25 years, CCA
commissioned celebrated artists and designers to create artwork inspired by
these scholars. Following this campaign, the Great Ideas provided a base for
notable figures including Paul Rand and René Magritte to bring attention to
philosophic scholars from the Great series, including Mark Twain and Theodore

Modifying and updating for today’s generation, ChiDM renewed this historical
series. Thus, the Great Ideas of Humanity (GIH) was born. Our initiative is to
inspirationally cross-pollinate contemporary artists’ ideas and philosophies with
quotable thinkers from the Middle Ages and beyond through a series of graphic
design works.

The Chicago Design Museum has created a poster series for the Dearborn
corridor stations showcasing the Great Ideas of Humanity series, highlighting the
civic and cultural significance of eight key sites in the Loop. The images will
include architectural points of interest, photographs and/or historic stories.

The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) initiative involves public transit (bus rapid)
infrastructural modes to improve the Loop area between neighborhoods and the
Central Business District. Traffic flow, less congested streets and more sidewalk
space are examples of plans to uphold the initiative. Several bus rapid transit
lanes are being developed in multiple arteries of the Loop.

The list of artists and designers include ChiDM’s executive directors Tanner
Woodford and Matthew Terdich, as well as Bibliotheque, Ivan Chermayeff, Hugh
Dubberly, Veronica Corzo-Durchardt, and LaShun Tines. This cultural art initiative represents the partnership between DCASE, the City of Chicago, and the Chicago Design Museum.

For press enquiries, image and interview requests, please contact:
About ChiDM: The Chicago Design Museum (ChiDM) strengthens design culture and builds community by facilitating the exchange of knowledge through dynamic experiences.
About DCASE: The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is a department under the jurisdiction of the City of Chicago geared towards enhancing the arts and culture of Chicago. The department also focuses on the non-profit arts sector and independent artist businesses, all guiding for future economic growth and community-wide outreach for the city and by the city.

Open Swim, Money

Open Swim, Money: Working with Sponsors


Tanner Woodford, executive director of Chicago Design Museum moderated a well-attended panel discussion at the Lake FX Summit, held at the Chicago Cultural Center. This was a large free convention for young artists and emerging entrepreneurs. Open Swim, Money: Working with Sponsors, was the title of the seminar, with selected panelists of diverse industries.

Tanner introduces himself and his role with Chicago Design Museum (ChiDM), a community-focused organization that shapes the living design community of Chicago. He then turns the conversation to Ashley Galloway, a lead market manager for Societe Perrier, which was re-branded from Perrier and now is a multi-art media, cultural source.  Mirrorball, a creative agency represents this lifestyle brand. Matthew Gowan, a branch manager at PNC Bank, shares his history of event planning efforts through a banking institution. Marguerite Singson, a field marketing manager for KIND Healthy Snacks, brings her brand to us, as consumers, by passing around fruit bar samples with an attached business card.

Tanner modeled the seminar on how three diverse companies build their brand, maintain partnerships, and give back to our community.

Firstly, he begins with how does successful collaboration work? Ashley explains that her target is art institutions and in securing long-term partnerships with annual events including the Art EXPO and Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). Their agenda is to creatively enhance the human experience by re-thinking the way brands affect our lives through advertising, social media, and philanthropy.

Matthew explains PNC’s charitable philosophy in how they successfully collaborate by building fellowships, setting up funds for early learning programs and research, as well as grant-planning programs.

Marguerite discusses how KIND successfully collaborates by establishing partnerships and providing consumers with samples as an interactive healthy experience and as a “kind act” in impacting people’s lives.

Next, Tanner asks how do these companies attract sponsors? Mirrorball Agency bases selection on the type of sponsorship benefits offered and the intensity of its programming involved.  As PNC hosts fundraisers with partnered sponsors, the demographics of these sponsors and their common connections attract similar demographics of potential new sponsors attending their events. KIND has a website link where you enter a charity cause and apply and “sell” for a potential sponsorship opportunity.

Lastly, Tanner asks how these companies achieve monetary success. The agency maximizes their approach by targeting Chicago, as a growing city allowing for tremendous sponsor growth. The bank sets up shareholder contracts for future planning and focuses on how much value can a charity support them in return.  The health bar builds strategies around their local demographic research. As strategies change, their reps must stay intact and think ahead for the next plan.

Nice job done in sharing with the Summit audience how a mixture of industries can contribute to society and gain long-term value for their company brand!

Concrete Jungle


The term “concrete jungle” gives off a juxtaposed impression where each opposing word complements each other. Niles Eldredge and Sidney Horenstein use the magnificence of New York City as a case study to show how a city can survive with a support system while deterring the system simultaneously, in the book Concrete Jungle. As people crave the city flavor, they subconsciously destroy the fabric by expanding and living on unnecessary needs.

In general, our lakes quickly fill up with soil, our land contours sink, and our ecosystems disappear. In the case of Manhattan, Hudson River dumping and erosion projects in natural marshes lead to financial success, while Manhattan Island is losing.

Historically, America was connected to Africa and Europe, until Atlantic Ocean divided the land. In Manhattan, these changes caused pre-existing basins, plate collisions, erosions, and destroyed fossils to bury underground. The geological glaciers are reminders that we were once connected to the world. This is an example of a forest primeval, uninfluenced by human activity.

Today, Manhattan avenues follow the parallel direction of rock formation underneath the street grid. The curved streets in lower Manhattan resemble colonial settlements of Europeans, which were once connected to our land. The irregular street grid was shaped by a long history of political disputes and natural land reactions. This is another example of forest primeval and what still exists of today’s concrete jungle.

In Central Park, large boulders are now recreational places. Paths along Fifth Avenue curve down into the park, where grooves lead you into New York’s landscaping, bridges and man-made pond.

We attempt to build what was lost, as we were originally connected to the rest of the world.

This book explores how humanity hopes to control what’s left of forest primeval in the concrete jungles and as an example for others to follow for a sustainable future.

Back to the Future

Florida Designer Homes Magazine Ultra Modern April 2012, Volume 1, No. 6, Page 6-7 Back to the Future How modern and ultra-modern design is transcending our image-conscious society, within half of a second.

Remember Michael J. Fox in the Back to the Future trilogy in the late 80s? Imagine if you were sitting next to Marty McFly in the time machine and jetted out to year 3012 instead of back to 1955.  This is what happens every day with our image-conscious society. Within the blink of an eye, innovation is at its finest.

It is like as if you are watching Charlie Chaplin dancing in those silent black and white movies and then you step away for a second, you turn around and see everyone is grabbing their 3D goggles to watch the internet inside a high definition larger-than-life flat screen, because virtual reality is just so “today”.

Out with the dinosaurs and in with the robots running our lives. As far as our image-conscious society is concerned, we tend to always find the latest, the newest, and the most cutting edge version before others catch up in the race. Whether we are artists, financial planners, designers, or lawyers,  visually stimulating and new designs are always attracting us, emotionally, mentally and physically. It is the energy that tends to keep people connected, based on common demographics and like-minded observations of one community.

Welcome to the fourth version of Back to the Future, where modern architecture and interior design styles have the “WOW” factor. These styles lead us to a new world of ultra-modern everything.

As we all evolve every day, limits become unlimited. Designers are now attracting mixed-media with touches of “green” as smart, healthy design. The merging of different professions call for more function, updated excitement and clean definition to these standard professions.  Eventually the next best style will be in the works, whether it is a traditional coming back from the past or it is a mesh of different time periods.  Ultra will become more ultra, as we gain better solutions by meshing with “smart” design choices.

Do’s and Don’ts of Successful Alternative Energy Projects (American Planning Assoc. Chicago 2014)


May 2014

This afternoon panel discussion presented how three different industry “mover and shakers” of the Chicago metro area developed success in alternative energy projects. Success implied cost effectiveness and energy efficiency for residents, commerce, and industry. Emerging alternatives and innovative strategies were challenged with case studies presented per panel speaker. Challenges targeted lessons to learn in finding available funding from federal and local governments.

Presenter one: Rosa Y. Ortiz, AICP, LEED AP, Program Officer, Enterprise Community Partners: Her firm oversees initiatives and projects directed at bringing natural resources to the Chicago metro area, via affordable housing. In the presentation, she emphasized the “people” side of sustainability.

This perspective emphasizes the behavior approach to energy conservation. A case study presented was CNEC: Chicago Neighborhood Energy Challenge sponsored by the City of Chicago. This project involves 7 residential properties, 14 buildings, 503 units, and over 700 people.

Workshops, interactive websites were forms of community involvement that programmed the project together. Data was gathered on gas, electric, and water usage per building. Results were drawn out.

Lessons learned were certain buildings were engaged and some were not. Some had a polite relationship and others had a camaraderie relationship. (Statistics given) Font size, literacy levels and language were to be of concern. 

Focus to be exerted on connecting with natural resources and securing a budget. 

Interests to be concerned with gatherings, special needs, cheat sheets, literacy rates, first language, child friendly meetings, and the ability to connect with resources due to limited upbringing. Length of activity to accommodate all was another concern. 

Organizing this project according to scale of the neighborhood or buildings was to be of concern as well. Green charrettes and grants were conducted. A Green community certificate according to the Enterprise criteria was established. Other engagement resources were carried out. 

Presenter two: Craig Schuttenberg, PE MBA, Vice President, Energy Choices, PC:  He founded his own consulting firm which helps large commercial customers in the metro area to be more conscious with energy use. The firm expanded to support social justice while balancing with energy and economic incentives.

Municipal aggregation supersedes energy savings. Statistics were presented of energy savings for ComEd from year 2013 to present. The result per his consulting firm concluded in introducing the usage of CFL’s (light bulbs).  The idea of CFL’s represents an analogy of 275 cars taken off the road for 7 years. The expected life of CFL’s is much lower. However, due to the short life expectancy, the challenge is when disposing since the product contains mercury.

According to the consultant, food pantry programs can accept disposed CFL’s.

A case study presented led to a result of zero sum game, meaning no net savings for residents of a community. Aggregate community savings came from ComEd’s residential customers in non-aggregate communities.  Wealth transfer went from non to aggregate.

There was pervasive incentive for customers using more electricity than ComEd supply in larger homes. The more affluent used more aggregated. Basically, no savings from aggregated. No benefit to local economy for those who are paid customers. The aggregation was a public policy failure. The question still stands: How to even the score to help power communities that spend all aggregated savings? 

Presenter three: Kevin Dick, LEED AP, Project Manager, Delta Institute: This presenter manages the firm’s green building portfolio including LEED certified projects. He introduces his presentation by using the state of Illinois as a case study. Kevin asks the question, how does energy status quo impact residents? Our status quo includes nuclear energy, solar generation, and the fact that our state is #36 ranked in cheap energy.  To answer the question, we have missed opportunities in financial, environmental, and home value benefits. Social fabric of community energy is included as well.

Comparing Chicago to Philly and Boston, our city has challenges in comfort, savings and code compliances (federal). History compliances, safety, and utility incentives.

Via Delta workings, since their mission is disrupt, catalyze, and transform, Kevin collaborated research results and brought to us the benefits of alternative methods. An EV car would involve no maintenance, a 3 year lease would cost 354$, 200$/monthly for gas, a 50% state rebate, 1000$ federal credit, and codes would comply a garage connector to charge the vehicle.

Another alternative for energy savings would be solar PV. Clean. increase value for MLS listings, and reduce grid stress on the smart grid.  The challenge would be to teach politicians about alternative retrofitting methods, as well as fire and building policies. Proactive measures would create a revenue model for other cities to follow as well as more code compliance allowability for green methods.

He can be found on