October 24, 2014 –January 2, 2015


Fri, Oct 24, 2014, 6–8 pm

Designers + Makers

Wed, Nov 19, 4–6 pm
Igniting Conversation


PLAT | FORMS is a conversation-focused exhibition invested in new thinking around design, community development, and artistic agency in cities. The exhibition is an introduction to Place Lab, a strategy-based component of the Arts + Public Life initiative that works with artists, designers, and organizations in the cities of Akron, Chicago, Detroit, and Gary. Place Lab structures innovative opportunities for cultural growth, economic vitality, and space reinterpretation for cities, organizations, and artists.

PLAT | FORMS is an exhibition rooted in materializing conversations about the hard questions that arise when change begins. It invites South Side residents, experts in fields related to urban development and transformation, and a city of artists and designers to discuss the complexities of change in places that have been under­resourced. Conceived as a multifaceted exchange of ideas, the exhibition consists of three participatory stations—a talking chamber to record stories and interviews, an information kiosk about the Place Lab project, and a resource library—all united by a selection of designed objects produced by artists and designers who are invested in Chicago and the South Side. Among the individuals whose works are featured are David Adjaye, Stephen Burks, Felicia Ferrone, Jonathan Muecke, Sara Pooley, and Norman Teague.

In addition, Stephen Burks will lead a group of local makers in a participatory design project during the week of October 20, culminating with a reception on October 24. The workshop is loosely modeled on his acclaimed and ongoing Man Made project, a series of collaborative efforts that has linked artisans from the developing world to global design brands and that has explored relations between local artistic production and global supply and manufacturing chains. Continuing strands of the Man Made project have been shown at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Milan Furniture Fair, and other venues.

With the future of Washington Park as its principle concern, PLAT | FORMS brings together varied modes of idea exchange and creative expression, and functions as a laboratory for reimagining place.

Envisioned by the Arts + Public Life initiative at the University of Chicago and funded by the Knight Foundation, Place Lab is a creative think tank that researches, collects and evaluates data, and engages neighborhoods to create and test a model of community development driven by arts and culture to be shared with cities and neighborhoods across the country. PLAT | FORMS is supported by generous contributions from the Knight Foundation, Knoll Inc., Roche Bobois, Dedon, Parachilna, Volume Gallery, Michael Jefferson, and Missoni.

Related Programming

PLAT | FORMS: Conversations in Place presents a three-part dialogue series called GROWING PAINS. The series examines three public works projects on Chicago’s south side: the demolition of Chicago Housing Authority’s high-rise public housing complexes, a controversial mural in Washington Park and the nation’s largest public school closings that occurred in 2013 in the Chicago Public School district. Each initiative, designed as a neighborhood improvement or part of a transformation plan, was met with skepticism and sharp criticism by community residents.

GROWING PAINS considers the complexities of change and explores the contention that exists just below the surface, sometimes erupting publicly, when neighborhood revitalization projects take shape in historically under-resourced areas. Dialogues will reflect on three local south side Chicago public housing, public art and public school transformation projects. Artists, architects, journalists, activists and community residents will contend with the promise and discord that persists, as communities strive for strong and vibrant neighborhoods.

GROWING PAINS draws from these three Chicago-specific public “improvements" to raise larger critical questions about design and place. Looking toward solutions, GROWING PAINS imagines what might be necessary for place-based projects to thrive when conflict and questions of shared power arise. 

Public Housing + Design Wed, Nov 19, 6–8 pm
Public Art + Design Wed, Dec 3, 6–8 pm
Public Schools + Design Tue, Dec 9, 6–8 pm

Learn about current exhibitions or visit the archive of past exhibitions at the Arts Incubator.


pin301 E Garfield Boulevard
Chicago, IL 60637

Wed-Fri 12:00pm-6:00pm
Extended hours during events