Chicago Design

The Terra Foundation initiative Art Design Chicago has made 2018 an absolutely tremendous year to see, experience, appreciate, and learn about the rich, impactful, complicated histories of art and design in Chicago. November is shaping up to be quite a month for design history in particular. Three exhibitions will shed new insight into significant aspects of Chicago design history: Chicago Cycles: 150 Years of Bicycle Design and Innovation at … Continue reading Chicago Design

Learning About Edgar Miller

Have you heard of Edgar Miller? I have been hard-pressed, even amongst Chicago (art) history aficionados, to find many people who answer in the affirmative. Born in 1899 in Idaho and spending a part of his childhood in Australia, Miller moved in Chicago in 1917 to attend the Art Institute of Chicago. Over the next fifty years, he produced an extraordinary body of work that … Continue reading Learning About Edgar Miller

Sculpture and Designed Things Part II: Artschwager and Formica

Formica Advertisement, 1955, published in Ideal Home.
Formica Advertisement, 1955. Courtesy of Flickr Midcentury Print group.

“This housewife is a ‘FORMICA’ kitchen enthusiast – but aren’t we all? Won’t you feel life is good when you own a kitchen where all the surfaces are jewel-bright-clean-at-a-wipe ‘FORMICA’ Laminated Plastic?”
Formica Advertisement, 1953, published in Ideal Home 

Jean Baudrillard wrote that modern materials like concrete or nylon are no less true, authentic, or real than stone or cotton, and that with the passage of time the “nobility of materials” would dissipate, modifying “our sensorial relationships with materials.”1  Plastic, whether Melamine, Nylon, or Formica, may have become ubiquitous substances of our material lives, but I would argue that, at least in the case of Formica, it has yet to overcome its second-class status as a cheap, fake, or in our current age, highly unsustainable. Continue reading “Sculpture and Designed Things Part II: Artschwager and Formica”