See Ambienta at the Chicago Design Museum

Winter is in full swing, and that means a couple things here in Chicago: terribly cold weather and guests from all over looking to experience the city.

To find relief from any of the symptoms of winter in Chicago, head to the Design Museum at Block 37 (ChiDM). It’s the perfect way to escape the chaos of Michigan Avenue shopping, entertain your family and friends, and warm up before venturing back out into the wintry weather. It’s also a lot more enriching than your average animated holiday movie. The museum, tucked away in the third floor of a recently developed mixed-use building, creates an opportunity to learn about the local design community and experience it firsthand.

From now until February 2017, “City of Ideas: Architects’ Voices and Visions” exemplifies the role of architecture globally through key influencers like Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and others, how their vision transcends into different cultures and what is next. The exhibition is interactive and encourages the use of your smartphone to engage with each anchor point. An antique projection system is used to display an installation, which creates a unique and thought-provoking juxtaposition between new and old technology.

Read below for an interview with Lauren Boegen, Executive Director of Operations and Collections for the Chicago Design Museum

sagegreenlife: Tell us about the inspiration behind the current exhibition.

Lauren Boegen: The current exhibition, “City of Ideas: Architects' Voices and Visions,” is curated by Vladimir Belogolovsky. Belogolovky's work began in 2002, the dawning of the age of the "star-chitect." He started a project to interview architects from around the world about their philosophies and perspectives on architecture, both as practice and profession. The project has yielded a book, “Conversations with Architects: In the Age of Celebrity,” as well as this exhibition. The installation at ChiDM is the North American premier and presents 10 of Belogolovsky's interviews with architects from around the world.

SGL: What are some key takeaways you would like the audience to embrace?

LB: Intentionally, this show does not push the audience to a conclusion. The goal is to encourage visitors to think more about architecture and its impact on us, whether it's the Pritzker Pavilion or the office building they go to every day. All buildings are designed, and those design decisions made by architects shape our lives.

SGL: Why do you think this is an important exhibition for a city like Chicago?

LB: Chicago has a deep architectural history, but short of the big skyscrapers, many people don't realize how impactful Chicago architecture has been. Encouraging people to think about what the buildings around them accomplish, and maybe sparking a curiosity in the design of those buildings is important.

SGL: How did you feel about integrating nature in your space when we brought the Ambienta (grow lamp)?

LB: We were very excited! Most museums cannot have living things in their galleries, but this show is all projections and no objects, so we were able to bring the Ambienta lamps into the space. The Ambienta have brightened up the dark gallery and have been particularly uplifting as it gets colder and colder. (Plus, we're hoping we're absorbing some of the "daylight" from the light as well!)

SGL: What has been the response of your audience when they see a lamp with plants?

LB: Visitors comment on the Ambienta every day. Usually, the reaction is to touch the plants to see if they are real because they are so beautiful, then to ask how it works, and then if we sell the lamps in the store! The response has been incredible and a great conversation piece with visitors. It's clear that people can envision these lamps either in their offices or their homes, which is a testament both to the product and the design.

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