Eva Maddox, FIIDA, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, began her lecture stating, “It all starts with hand drawing.”

Students look on nervously as they ponder whether they’ve strayed too far into the digital realm, while professors, staff, and design professionals in the room nod approvingly.

It’s Jan. 21, 2015, and IIDA Headquarters is at the Harrington College of Design with Maddox to learn about her experience as Principal of the Perkins+Will | Eva Maddox Branded Environments group based in Chicago.

Maddox joined the firm 12 years ago to push the existing Perkins+Will Branded Environments group forward, and since Maddox says it’s become a “living brand lab,” helping to devise and design new ways for clients to tell their stories and “find their way.”

Maddox always strives to “do design with meaning,” and with her team of specialists, she uniquely fuses brand research, brand positioning, and graphic design with Interior Design and architecture. Her group’s processes of creating space begins with “immersion,” moves into “visioning, strategy, concept, design, development, documentation,” and finally “build.”

Maddox uses several case studies during the presentation to represent these processes such as the Purina Conference Center Renovation + Expansion project which uses an old turkey farmhouse (an ode to their past) to tell the brand’s story. Inside the structure, the Purina checkerboard logo is carried throughout the spaces, spotlighting Purina artifacts and products.

Other projects Maddox narrated for the audience included dynamic spaces built for Knoll (this post’s header image), Nike, and the Lindner Center at the University of Cincinnati featuring a 5-story tall trophy case.

One of the more fascinating projects Eva narrates for the audience is the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City. The Intrepid story, as Maddox notes, is an emotional one due to the warfare and death toll the ship endured during its many years at sea. This made it crucial to Maddox and her team to understand and celebrate the brave men and women that served on the ship during World War II, Vietnam, and even 9/11 when the ship was one of only a few “safe harbors” where American planes could land during the attacks. Maddox and her team’s goal was to provide an emotional impact and string together spaces on the ship to tell a story – not to mention, turn an entire ship into a museum. Maddox divided the vessel into narrative categories, including the open-air hangar deck, to create a space, place, and experience throughout the entire ship.

Maddox wraps up the presentation dispensing industry insights to students in the audience and anticipates “what’s next” in design. Maddox specifically notes our age of “technological convergence,” explaining the impact technology and our rapid rate of change has on businesses and work environments.

Eva Maddox is the recipient of Chicago Magazine‘s 2002 Chicagoan of the Year and the 2000 IIDA Star Award, honoring her outstanding leadership and contribution to design. In 1999, Maddox was elected to the IIDA College of Fellows and in 1992, she was inducted into the Interior Design Hall of Fame.

Images courtesy of:
IIDA Northland Chapter


At the Chicago Humanities Festival lecture series JOURNEYS, sponsored and underwritten by IIDA Industry Member, Herman Miller, the co-founder of the Massive Change Network, Bruce Mau, was invited to lecture on the power of design to bring positive, holistic change on a global scale.

Growing up in “Gutenberg type times,” Mau iterated how it’s now much easier to connect with others than it was 30-35 years ago when connecting and finding people was infinitely more difficult. However, Mau said that today’s challenge is how we pursue people and information, especially with American society built around increasingly small moments – “millisecond moments,” he deemed them – that align with our short-term focused economy. As an alternative, Mau suggested, we need long-term thinking.

The Massive Change designer also delved into our accessible, transparent world where we can always “see behind the image,” making everything visible; therefore making it necessary for everything to be designed. Mau elaborated that enterprises, both small and large, should respect this transparency by focusing their efforts on how people wish to live. The key to this, Mau said, is the designer –  the ones who can tell the story and connect the dots. This ability makes designers very valuable and necessary for them “to be in the board room.”

Mau finished the lecture by focusing on America, a country “built on freedom and dreams.” Mau observed that Americans always have dreams or something they always want to do, and noted that this is not the case in other countries where violence, poverty, and destruction are at the fore-front. Mau urged the audience to embrace their American right to freedom, and to reinsert it in our society by not looking left or right, but instead “look forward or backward.”

Since his Museum of Contemporary Art exhibition Massive Change, Mau has pushed the boundaries of design. Expanding on his early work focused on branding, Mau charted his own path within environment-based design, and how design can make the world a better place. Bruce Mau is the author and designer of several award-winning books, including Massive ChangeLife Style; and S, M, L, XL (in collaboration with Rem Koolhaas), as well as the widely shared Incomplete Manifesto for Growth. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the Segal Design Institute at Northwestern University.