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Spectacular Vernacular (Exhibitions)


Our first major solo exhibition at the Cultural Center’s Chicago Rooms, Spectacular Vernacular, explored the first five years of our collaborative practice through the themes of observation, experimentation and speculation.

The exhibition’s introductory text panel read:

Besides being useful, and perhaps even beautiful, what else should designed objects do? Conventional wisdom states that they should be original and respond to the technologies and behaviors of their time, but is that all? Could an object also be a tool to help us think about wider issues—to help us contemplate alternate futures in ways that provoke meaningful discussion? Showing three distinct aspects of our creative practice—observation, experimentation, and speculation—across the three galleries of the Chicago Rooms, the exhibition reveals how we mix our craft and industrial design backgrounds with influences from fiction, science and the arts. The multifaceted approach explores the rhetorical, as well as the practical opportunities of designed objects, encouraging a broadening of the conventional definition of the designer’s role. By using design to ask questions as well as solve problems, we make the case for independent design practice as a critical response and essential adjunct to the corporate design world.

Throughout the development of the exhibition, we were in conversation with writer Lee Ann Norman. Commissioned by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), Norman authored Agile Ciphers for Cultural Truths an essay and interview about our practice. Spectacular Vernacular was curated with Greg Lunceford, Curator of Exhibitions at DCASE and was presented by The Chicago Cultural Center and DCASE. In November 2018 the exhibition moved to its second venue, the Brooks Stevens Gallery at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design.