Five years and counting

This April husARchitecture turned five and I nearly missed it among the rush of permit drawings, design concepts, and programming for husART but five years definitely deserves some reflection.

I started husARchitecture in response to a need for my own creative outlet, a need to be able to chase dreams as they became reality, and as a security in the post recession era.  It sat quietly for a few years picking up a few side projects while I developed as a project architect at Holabird & Root and learned more about international business.

In 2012, husARchitecture became my life and I took off for China in hopes of starting a branch office.  I wanted to form a company that could connect America to China and support both economies, hoping to bring a contextual design style to a place that is often seen as a blank slate.  I traveled the country top to bottom and formed local partnerships.  I learned about a beautiful culture full of love and excitement for its growth and worked on designs that eclipsed the scale of an equivalent American project and contributed to massive urban projects that were beyond my desire to impose.  Upon reflection, I realized the elements of cultural incorporation and design control that were most important to me was a minor concern in China and I realized that to do the work my heart was in, I would need to focus on Chicago and my community as I understood it. 

So I returned to Chicago, and shared my vision and theory through various art installations.  Along the way growing a presence of small intimate projects that could look at how design functioned on the human scale.  I am grateful for the conversations with my clients and friends that helped me come to understand who I am as a designer and who helped me grow the means and the confidence to continue with this firm.  

It was through these experiences that I came to develop the husART Design Collective as a space for my office but as a place for exchange and idea growth and a way to share the limelight with other artists and creators.  Through the events that have been hosted here in the short time we've been open, I've developed a new sense of art, community, and engagement and I am grateful to those of you who have participated to create these experiences.

Today, I realize that one cannot design in a bubble.  It takes a  network of contributors from consultants such as engineers, accountants, and lawyers; idea contributors and soul soothers by ways of friends, mentors, and confidants, and it takes believers of clients to trust this collective to turn their initial concept into a functioning reality. I thank every person who has touched my life and has helped husARchitecture make it to five years. It has been a wild ride full of ups and downs and twists and turns with adventure around every corner.  I look forward to continuing this journey, growing and creating, bringing beauty and community to this world.

Uncovered Discussion Series

The best discussions happen over food and drink.  The Uncovered Discussion Series hosted by husART Design Collective seeks to promote focused conversations in the context of potluck around a communal dinner table.  Topics will range from arts, community, sustainability, science, business and more.  In depth topics will be in a serial format over consecutive weeks.
Heads of table are close to the issues at hand, whether expert, involved citizens, or active participants, they will give a background for the discussion and all participants are free to share their ideas, perspectives, brainstorm solutions, or just listen and enjoy. 


Our inaugural serial “Art Shaped Community” looks at relationships between growing communities within Chicago, Gary, and Detroit. We will investigate what challenges face each of these cities and how particular neighborhoods have responded and thrived. Within this conversation will be central themes of gentrification, dealing with abandoned properties, and questions of what makes healthy communities.
It is the hope that through these discussions participants can uncover ways to improve their own communities. 

February 10, 2015: Miller Beach, IN 
Cullen Daniel, President of Miller Beach Historical Society
Corey William Hagelberg, Co-founder Calumet Artist Residency
Jennifer White, Founder Rehabitate

February 17, 2015: Gary, IN 
Samuel A Love, organizer with the Central District Organizing Project (C-DOP) and Founder and president of Bureau of Peace, Love, and Art
Renee Hatcher, Human Rights Attorney

February 24, 2015: Pullman, IL
JB Daniel, Founder Mosnart
Rebecca Buchmeier, Architect and Pullman Resident

March 3, 2015: Detroit, MI 
Meegan Czop, Materials Buyer ReBuilding Exchange
Sarah Mellen, Founder The Jack and The Ace

husART Design Collective

We've recently launched our first Indiegogo campaign to crowd source some necessary items to make the husART Design Collective a reality.  It's a very humbling experience to expose our concepts and ideas in this fashion, and I really give everyone credit who's previously run campaigns.  I'd like to talk a bit more about why this campaign is important and what we hope to offer by means of a community.

The primary reason for starting a campaign of this nature aside from the sheer financial burden, is the realization that you cannot be a community of one and fundraising allows others to take part and find ownership in the project.  With a shared commitment, there is room for other ideas to influence and grow the concept of the design collective - it is not intended that this will be a singular movement of one mind, though a framework has hopefully been laid that offers flexibility and room for growth. This framework in brief is a four part approach offering co-working space with rentable conference rooms to serve as an incubator to business in our community; a community showcase of local artists; an available event space; and finally an ongoing discussion salon that cross-pollinates ideas among different disciplines and concepts. 

I think the biggest challenge any space like this faces is finding the right location.  I have a long history in Logan Square and in many ways, the lessons about community building I learned and experienced in Logan formed the basis of this idea.  From the growth the Dill Pickle Food Co-op to the community that grew a Bread and Beer night and underground dinners to the restaurant that is Cellar Door Provisions, I saw neighbors coming together in a beautiful way.  In the search for an office space, I realized I didn't want to work alone, in a vacuum and that creating a space for others to grow and influence and be a part of would be a win for all of us.  So the question becomes, why leave the support of my community and friends and try to start this down in Pilsen?

I was drawn to Pilsen for a number of reasons. The first is simple - I was priced out of Logan and I came across a beautiful sunlit storefront easily accessible to the train and expressways that could work within my planned budget.  I had become reacquainted with the neighborhood through my artist residency at the High Concept Laboratories and enjoyed the artistic discourse taking place in the area.  But the biggest reasons were personal, familial roots.  There has always been a Husar in Pilsen.  Growing up, my Aunt Jezzie lived in a gorgeous funky loft, long since acquired by Pod Majerskey.  It overlooked a garden that would smell of barbecue and baking clay from the on-site kilns. During the summer I would run through the connected court yards playing games and speaking with artists about their work.  Pilsen had a magical feeling to it that has stayed with me.  I've seen different demographics existing concurrently in this neighborhood throughout my lifetime and I would like to create a space that allows for this diversity to continue to co-exist and to thrive.

As a space, we've begun our event series with the opening of Object Reality, hosted events for "She Is", begun planning the discussion series beginning in January, and formed a partnership with Extra Medium for future artist showcases.  There are exciting things happening and we'd like you to be a part of it, but we cannot succeed without a community of support.  Please, take a moment and consider contributing to the Indiegogo campaign, and help spread the word to reach other creators in our community.