Don’t miss your chance to enter to win a full-conference registration. One lucky member will be selected on May 14th and announced at Wet Ink & Hot Dogs: A Screenprinting Workshop and Backyard Cook-out. Winners do not have to be present to win. You can register at the May event or check on our website for registration starting April 27.
Even if you aren’t the lucky winner, we are happy to share our exclusive code applicable to the HOW Design Conference individual full-conference registration rate that saves you $100.
DISCOUNT CODE HLG11
Back in October, Ryan Singer spoke about Design Priorities at 37signals. The well-attended lecture at the Clifton Center was an inspiring and well-balanced discussion on design theory. He cited some great design thinkers and provided interesting thought for a multi-disciplined audience. After the lecture we enjoyed dinner where we got some insight into our talented speaker. In the weeks after, my office picked up the suggested reading to learn a little more.
Exterior of Building that houses 37signals
In late January, I traveled to Chicago to visit Ryan at 37signals. I am under the belief that the genres of design are less powerful of a distinction than the commonalities are an aggregate. While Ryan’s lecture was expected to be full of useful information for my work as a web designer, it’s appeal to the print designers and programmers was equally impressive. Much the same, the 37signals office continued the theme of great appreciation for design. The open and airy space that occupies the 2nd floor of a skillfully renovated concrete loft building in the West Town neighborhood of Chicago is full of modern details, vintage classics and thoughtful consideration for the way they work.
Sharp-teethed Villagers Chasing a Dragon in Modern Cave Drawings by Nate Otto
The space is broken into halves by a long island of conference rooms with a chalkboard clad hallway from the entry through to the back. The Chalkboard had been decorated by artist Nate Otto with some colorful illustrations entitled Modern Cave Drawings that vaguely reminded me of personally beloved artist Steven Harrington. You can check them out on the 37signals blog. The font half includes a minimal entry adorned with an elegant Barcelona Pavilion daybed sans bolster pillow, a presentation room with tiered seating and a large modern kitchen with quite possibly the largest dining table I’ve ever seen. I can’t remember how many it seats it has, but Ryan did comment on how rarely it ever gets used by more than a few employees at either end. The presentation room and the kitchen are clearly set up for facilitating training and lectures for a decent crowd.
Owner, Jason Fried at his desk
The rear half is mostly open with workstations next to a long wall of windows across from entrances to the multiple conference rooms. The exterior wall of the conference rooms are made of dyed felt. Sounds simple, but it isn’t. The felt was cut into strips and put into molds that were created and destroyed to dye the otherwise gray felt with a subtle red tone. The strips create a modular pattern that was surely the obsession of the architect. What the short ends of the island contain couldn’t be more different. The side by the dining space has a seating area with a beautiful gray Florence Knoll lounge set. The table is where I spotted the all too familiar bright orange pop of color radiated by the book Grid Systems in Graphic Design by Josef Muller-Brockmann placed nicely next to one of the few fresh-flower floral arrangements they have delivered regularly. The other end has two small sound-proofed phone booths with nifty occupied signs that are triggered by closing the door. Ryan explained the importance of these nooks to maintain the library-like calm that promotes productivity.
Grid Systems in Graphic Design as a coffee table accent
The whole space promotes a clean and simple aesthetic with boxy shapes, high ceilings, large windows and neutral details. As Ryan walked me around the space it was quite evident they had put the same principles into the design of their space that made his lecture and ultimately their products such a great success.
LGDA’s 2011 Campaign posters designed by Jeremy Reiss are posted on the French Paper Company’s website. Go check them out!