Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Getting the lay of the land: Sabbatical at Thirst (3st)

I’m undergoing a concerted effort getting acclimated to using Chicago public transportation and living in an urban environment. After arriving at Thirst’s office on 1440 West Hubbard Street (also home of the Richard Wright Auction House) the morning session began with initial introductions to the Thirst’s design team: Rick, John, Bud, Robyn, Tinne, and Baozhen Li. I was given an office tour.

The office layout is a functionally integrated “great room” space with enough room for each designer’s workstation and a general conference table. The designer workstation areas includes additional table surface to spread out various project elements without being separated from each other by walls and partitions. The open floor plan functions as both as efficient workflow and metaphorical openness between design team members. A dark curtain wall that’s drawn to hide storage areas separates the utility area, which is a strip of space. Occasionally, but not distracting, are muted conversations, phone conversations, conference calls, and white noise also fill the studio space.

The first day I job shadowed principal, Rick Valicenti. Rick reviewed various projects and work in progress with designers. Today was a fine beginning into discovering the culture of Thirst and just how integral Valicenti is with the other designers in the overall Thirst’s design process. These one on one interaction between Rick and individual designers results in an effective team strategy. Rick’s design thinking seems most responsive in the form of notes and sketches on ubiquitous yellow paper organized throughout the office.

Photo of Rick Valicenti’s friendly yellow paper sketches and notes.

Today Thirst’s designers were working with clients from Los Angeles and Chicago. Projects include: Identity project for an engineered architectural and sculptural water features, a sample binder and multi-page brochure, a website for one of Chicago’s premier musical arts organizations, and architectural and retail signage.

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