Design in Chicago?

Hey all…I have been reading these boards for a while now and think that this would be a great place to ask some questions and get involved…

I was just wondering if anyone has any recommendations for a design trip that a bunch of Industrial Design students will be taking this coming spring break? Anyone have any must see(s)? Our professor used to work in Chicago, so I think he has some connections to design firms…but if anyone has info, I would be grateful!

P.S. ----->any good places to stay? CHEAP?!


This hostel is in the heart of the city, and is fairly cheap. I’ve heard good things but never stayed there myself.

As for other things to recommend to ID students…

  • Check out for tons of links to local firms

  • Go to Millenium Park

  • Go to the MCA or Art Institute

  • Check out the gallery districts in River North or West Loop

  • Hit up furniture stores like Luminaire, Orange Skin, Poliform, etc

  • Consider checking out the Merchandise Mart

  • Don’t just hang out in the Loop-- go see neighborhoods like Wicker Park/Bucktown, Lincoln Park, Lakeview, etc Neighborhoods define this city,and have the interesting night spots, stores and restaurants.

  • Don’t waste time going to Navy Pier.

  • Anything else?

Try and get out to see the Frank Lloyd Wright home & studio in Oak Park. It’s no architectural masterpiece, but it’s very inspiring.

If you don’t have time to go to Oak Park you can see the Robi House at Robi University of Chicago. Check to see if its open. I know it was closed for a while for renovations.

Oh and also check out the new Rem Koolhaas student center at IIT. Very inspiring architecture from an ID standpoint-- lots of interesting material combinations and flashy graphics/colors.

… and if you can you have to check out the women’s bathroom. Not sure what the men’s room is like. I couldn’t get in there.

Thanks for all the great info!

If anyone has any more ideas or fun things to do while in the windy city that would be GREAT!!!


Well thanks for all the info you Chicago people!

Where is the Merchandise Mart and what is it???

Oh and on a side note, are there any good stores to shop at for fashon/clothes? (Im thinking of getting some new stuff, when I was in Italy last year on one of these ID trips I stopped off in H&M and found a ton of stuff…you have anything like that?)


I’m in Chicago every year for work and I stay at the Ohio House across from the ‘rock and roll’ McDonald. Clean, 80$ a night and pretty close to most things. Always great house music at smatbar/metro. I agree with all the fore-mentioned field trips. Oak park is worth the trip. As for IIT, you’ll cry when you see the state the Mies buildings are in. I know others might not share my view of the new student centre but I think it’s a little shabby.

P.S. don’t go to New York right before or you won’t think much of the place.

(to all those Chicago designers out there: I like Chicago and I’m equally honest about my home town.)

I don’t think shabby is the correct work… today. I think there are lots of interesting things going on with materials, space, graphics, light etc.

Do I think this will have the same lasting power as Mies’ building across the street? No way. I also think this student center will look dated and worn faster than any of Venturi’s post modern architecture…But then Venturi’s achitecture was very ‘intersting’ at the time too. - Basically a HUGE building full of showrooms for all the major interior design resources. Fabrics, furniture, etc. Every year NeoCon is hosted there, where all of the contract office furniture showrooms showcase their new products. Steelcase, Knoll, Herman-Miller, etc has huge show rooms there. Be forewarned: the showrooms are not always open, or open to the public, and the whole place can be quite overwhelming-- but its worth a visit.

Yeah we have H&M and other such chain stores on Michigan Ave. Lots of high end shopping there too. You’ll find more interesting clothing in the neighborhood boutiques-- Wicker Park/Bucktown have a lot of top-notch stuff, more youthful/hipster garb can be picked up in Wrigleyville/Lakeview near the Belmont El stop, and for other upscale boutiques, check out Lincoln Park near the Armitage El stop and of course the Gold Coast (North of Michigan Ave shopping dist., Oak street, Rush St, etc)

once again I cant thank you enough fueledbycoffee, I am taking all this info to my meeting with the rest of our ID crew tonight! Hope all is well in Chicago, tis a bit windy and rainy here in the Pacific Northwest…

Rain? That sure is lame. We’ve got a snowstorm headed our way. Not sure which is the lesser evil… Enjoy your trip-- Chicago is an awesome place.