Chicago Design: Histories and Narratives, Questions and Methods

Academic Programs

  • University of Illinois at Chicago

November 8–10, 2018

The first international scholarly conference devoted to the subject, "Chicago Design: Histories and Narratives" will be convened jointly by the School of Art & Art History at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in fall 2018. Covering the period between the late nineteenth century and the end of the twentieth century, this conference will bring together scholars working on all aspects of the city’s design history, including craft fields such as textiles, jewelry, and ceramics; important business sectors such as the furniture and printing industries as well as the numerous large-scale manufacturers and distributors of consumer goods based in the city; and established fields of design production such as graphic design, industrial design, and architecture. The conference aims not only to expand the existing body of scholarship on key figures in the history of Chicago design, but also to construct a broader, more diverse picture of the range of movements, people, and forces considered a part of the city’s distinctive design tradition. Furthermore, the conference will specifically engage the question of the relationship between the various design practices under consideration and the city itself in an effort to examine the concept of place-specific design identities. In this sense, the conference aims to advance both the history of Chicago design and the fields of art, architecture, and design history more broadly.