written by:
March 4, 2014
New Zealand’s Studio Magazine goes behind the doors of Windy City design firms to see how the city's creatives work.
Studio Magazine Cover Chicago Issue

The very fitting cover of the Chicago Issue of Studio Magazine, featuring a ketchup-free Chicago dog. The Auckland, New Zealand-based publication profiles creative workspaces around the world.

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 studio magazine chicago issue

A map of the firms profiled in Studio Issue #4. The magazine was started by Zoe Ikin, who spent time in Chicago during production of this issue, and her collaborators Clem Devine and Sam Trustrum, her fiance.

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Studio Magazine Chicago Issue

Studio Magazine Issue #4,  interior of VSA Partners, where editor and co-founder Zoe Ikin spent three months as a design researcher last summer.

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Studio Magazine Chicago Issue

Studio Magazine Issue #4. “There’s no doubt we’re voyeuristic and a little nosy,” says Ikin. “We love to see what everyone else is doing.”

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Basecamp Office

The conference room at Basecamp, which designs the project management software of the same name.

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Basecamp

Inside the basecamp office; Ikin was struck by the flexible workspaces in this design, fitting for a company that champions remote working.

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Basecamp

A worktable at Basecamp's Chicago office. The company recently changed its name from 37signals; CEO Jason Fried wanted to focus more on the core product.

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IDEO Chicago

Front desk of the Chicago office of IDEO, the international design and innovation consulting firm. "Chicago had all of these great industrial offices—there was no shortage of light, lofty spaces to visit,” says Ikin.

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IDEO Chicago

Rooftop space at IDEO Chicago. The company's West Loop office, including this impressive deck for outdoor collaboration and entertaining, was built by architectural firm Perkins+Will in 2009.

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Legacy Frameworks

Legacy Frameworks, purveyors of hand-made bicycles. Ikin says that during her brief time in Chicago, she was impressed by the city's “incredibly enthusiastic and supportive” local design community.

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Legacy Frameworks

Legacy Frameworks. While working “from the bottom of the Earth” on previous issues, according to Ikin, the Studio team had never had the chance to focus on a single location before.

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Pitchfork Media

The exterior of Pitchfork Media's offices. The respected music publication moved its editorial office to Brooklyn, but still has businesses offices in Chicago.

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Pitchfork Media

Pitchfork Media's design and development teams work out of the Chicago office.

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Pitchfork Media

The interior of Pitchfork Media, located in the city's Logan Square neighborhood.

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Plural

The office of Plural Design, home of designers Jeremiah Chiu and Renata Graw. “Creative people are an international breed,” says Ikin. “There’s an appreciation for modest spaces."

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Plural

Plural Design co-founders Jeremiah Chiu and Renata Graw met in 2006 while studying graphic design at the University of Illinois-Chicago.

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Plural

Plural Design has worked with an array of local clients, including the Lyric Opera, Chicago Architecture Foundation, DePaul Art Museum and the Whistler bar.

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The Post Family

Entrance to the Post Family workspace, the design collective's home on Hubbard street in the West Town neighborhood.

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The Post Family

The Post Family is a seven-member design collective that built its own gallery, letterpress, and screenprinting studio.

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The Post Family

The Post Family has engaged in a variety of design and printing projects, and will be curating a series of events at the Comfort Station space in Logan Square this March.

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VSA Partners

Entrance to the VSA Partners office in Chicago. The branding firm was founded in 1982 by Robert Vogele and works with companies such as IBM and Harley-Davidson.

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VSA Partners

VSA Partners' office. Ikin noted plenty of trends in office layout during her time in Chicago, including the emphasis on smaller rooms for collaboration

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VSA Partners

VSA Partners's office. Ikin says the firm chose the space and let designers organically figure out the layout and workflow.

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Studio Magazine Cover Chicago Issue

The very fitting cover of the Chicago Issue of Studio Magazine, featuring a ketchup-free Chicago dog. The Auckland, New Zealand-based publication profiles creative workspaces around the world.

“There’s no doubt we’re voyeuristic and a little nosy,” says Zoe Ikin, one of the editors and founders of Studio Magazine, a publication based in Auckand, New Zealand, that profiles creative workspaces and studios around the world. “We love to see what everyone else is doing.”

When Ikin was given an opportunity to be a visiting design researcher in Chicago for the branding firm VSA Partners last summer, she decided to take advantage of her stay and devote issue #4 to the city’s creative community, collecting photos and interviews from offices such as Pitchfork Media and print and design studio Sonnenzimmer. While working “from the bottom of the Earth” with collaborators Clem Devine and Sam Trustrum, her fiance, on previous issues, they’d never had the chance to focus on a single location. This gave them a chance to shine a light on where the “incredibly enthusiastic and supportive” local design community works.

“Creative people are an international breed,” she says. “There’s an appreciation for modest spaces. Chicago had all of these great industrial offices—there was no shortage of light, lofty spaces to visit.”

Ikin, who normally works as a designer at Alt Group, noticed plenty of trends in office layout—the emphasis on smaller rooms for collaboration at IDEO, or the flexible desk arrangements at Basecamp (formerly 37signals), fitting for a company that champions remote working. But one thing she says that’s been a constant throughout her work on studio is not to judge an office by its layout.

“The best work is coming from non-showy spaces,” she says.

Pictures of Studio Magazine courtesy of Mark Smalling, VSA Partners

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