HOW Design Live Chicago June 22-27
June 24-27, 2011

Studio Tours

Studio Tours

Get an up close and personal look at the Chicago design scene on a HOW Conference Studio Tour. You’ll get insider access to a wide range of local studios, from big agencies to one- and two-person shops. You’ll get to see how they work, how they arrange their space and more—but space on the tour is limited, so be sure to sign up early.

The tours will take place on Friday, June 24 at 8:00 am – Noon and 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm; an additional fee is required.

AM Studio Tour departs at 8:00AM sharp from the Hyatt Regency Chicago and returns at approximately 12Noon.

Closerlook, Inc.
Elevate Studios
Upshift Creative Group
VSA Partners
The PM Studio Tour departs at 1:00PM sharp from the Hyatt Regency Chicago and returns at approximately 5:00PM.
15 Letters
Grip Design
The Post Family

Take a guided tour of 12 local Chicago studios and get an inside look at how each firm operates from lobby to lunchroom. This is an opportunity to see how other designers arrange their desks, embellish common areas and showcase award-winning work. Who knows, it may inspire you to redecorate your own space!

15 Letters (PM Tour)
Located in a loft space in Chicago’s up-and-coming Clybourn Corridor, 15 Letters  houses a sound booth, photo area, conference rooms and an indoor technological playground. This interactive “lab” contains a multi-touch table and various touch screen monitors.
Employees: 10
Specialties: Digital and user experience design, online games, websites, social media applications, interactive kiosks, smart phone applications

37signals (AM Tour)

West Loop’s 37signals offers comfortable space through an open floor plan.  Sylized with textured and hand-crafted finishes, this industrial loft brags a 37-seat theater.
Employees: 26
Specialties: Web-based applications and software design

Avenue (PM Tour)

Located in a brick and timber loft space in Chicago’s River North district, Avenue's open floor plan encourages collaboration and brainstorming, ping pong breaks, lots of natural light, and views of the bar with a roof-top deck across the street.
Employees: 20
Specialties: New company and product launch, Brand transformation, Digital

closerlook, inc. (AM Tour)

Employees of closerlook, inc. have a flavor for their work while basking in the rich, lofty setting of a remodeled chocolate factory. Located north of the Loop, the building’s cozy interior sits below timber ceiling beams and bares exposed brick walls.
Employees: 50
Specialties: Strategic marketing for healthcare including Marketing-communications strategy, internet and technology development, interactive and print design, content development, motion media

Designkitchen (PM Tour)

Designkitchen is housed in a three-story converted brick warehouse in the Fulton Market area west of downtown Chicago. Decorated with a mid-century modern sensibility, this open-plan office has no doors, leaving enough space for collaboration and the occasional handspring. Four kitchens keep the staff satisfied on lunch breaks, and an “open dog policy” extends a paw to the four-legged friends who keep the designers company over shared snacks.
Employees: 55
Specialties: Digital interactive design from full site redesigns to mobile application interface design, as well as video/animation design, identity systems, packaging design

Elevate Studios, Inc. (AM Tour)

This vintage loft space in the Bohemian River North neighborhood of Chicago reflects the company’s vibrant, fun attitude. Contemporary, eclectic furnishings such as stained-glass lamps and exotic plant arrangements adorn the hardwood floors of the studio.
Employees: 10
Specialties: Interactive marketing, design and development

Grip Design (PM Tour)

Located in a converted brick building on the edge of Wicker Park, Grip is a unique studio with an emphasis on not just design, but marketing and the opportunity to invest in the businesses we serve. The space is open and airy with multiple skylights, a photo studio and full kitchen. An ability to learn and strong sense of humor is required to work here.

Employees: 6
Specialties: Brand Activation, Design, Marketing, Packaging and Product Development.

IDEO (AM Tour)

Located in Chicago’s bustling West Loop neighborhood, IDEO’s high-ceilinged, open workspace offers plenty of natural light in an industrial-chic setting.
Employees: 550+
Specialties: Branding, business design, digital experiences, education, energy, engineering, financial services, food & beverage, health, mobility, play, public sector, social innovation, organizational design 

The Post Family (PM Tour)

Hang out with the designers of The Post Family in their home away from home. The close-knit group describes their studio as an “alternative art space” that reflects their unique and individual styles. An in-house gallery displays letterpress and screen printing work. During down time, the festive environment houses experimental music, potluck dinners and small parties.
Employees: 7
Specialties: Printmaking

Threadless (PM Tour)

The Threadless office crew and thousands of t-shirts can be found in a massive 45,000-square-foot space in Chicago’s West Loop. This colorful space offers an open recreation area with creativity-boosting game tables, an arcade and an indoor Airstream trailer. The Threadless employees keep the studio lined with balloons and party favors during holidays, and a menagerie of cartoon animals, aliens and clowns are illustrated in a mural that spans two walls.
Employees: 75
Specialties: Graphic design, photography

UpShift Creative Group (AM Tour)

Right on Michigan Avenue in an area known as “Advertising Row” thanks to its plethora of ad agencies and design studios, this small studio office features an open floor plan and a 270-degree view of the Chicago skyline to broaden the horizon.
Employees: 5
Specialties: Branding development, logo design, brochures, sales materials, website development

VSA Partners (AM Tour)

VSA Partners is proud to show off their renovated Montgomery Ward warehouse space. Situated in the ever-changing gallery district, the expansive VSA Partners' studio maintains an exciting and energetic open-floor plan with 40,000 square feet on one floor and 20 foot high ceilings. Features of their studio also include a large formal reception area, video editing suites and individualized “phone booths” for conference calls.
Employees: 140
Specialties: Online and Offline branding