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Crafting design history through timeless narratives

Teaming up with the Institute of Design and Design Museum of Chicago to create an evolving exhibition experience at their 85th anniversary.


Designing an experience to revisit milestones in Institute of Design's 85 years of Innovation.

The IIT Institute of Design, an influential and pioneering institution in the realm of design education, has spent over 85 years dedicated to fostering innovation, shaping design history, and inspiring creative minds. Its commitment to human-centered design and a rich legacy of transformative narratives make it a beacon of excellence in design education.

Project Team

Martin Thaler 
Sujith Samuel
William Chen
Tanner Woodford
Annie Leue


June 2022 - November 2022

My contributions

Design Research,
Product ideation,
Concept building



Create an interactive experience that celebrates ID's progression, history, and innovative spirit in a meaningful way.


To represent its history to inspire, the Institute of Design wanted to create a tangible experience that honors ID's history and innovation spirit, at the 85th anniversary of the Institute.


Interactive storytelling through a spatial experience that is evolving over time.


We partnered with the Design Museum of Chicago to develop a narrative experience that is both tangible and spatial in nature. Our approach commenced with a comprehensive exploration of spatial experiences, encompassing visits to museums, cultural centers, and other relevant venues.

This initial phase served as the foundation for our subsequent two-month endeavor, marked by rigorous concept sketching, ideation, and prototype development.
Our primary objective was to construct a presentation of history that we envisioned as an immersive exploration of four distinct eras that have marked the Institute's historical trajectory.


An interactive design exhibition at Ed Kaplan Institue of Technology Entreprenureship, Chicago


The exhibition was revealed to the public following an intensive four-month design process. It is located on the first floor of the Ed Kaplan Institute of Technology Entrepreneurship in Chicago. Throughout our design journey, rigorous prototyping played a pivotal role in shaping our considerations for accessibility. Simultaneously, we collaborated with the Design Museum of Chicago, who took charge of curating the essential artifacts featured in the exhibition.



Interactive storytelling through a spatial experience that is evolving over time.

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As people reflect on the rich history of the Institute, it's clear that people value the narratives of the rich history of the school and the vital role it has in shaping the history of design itself. They value impactful narratives that are physically embodied, as their tangible presence serves as a powerful reminder of the rich history that surrounds us and its enduring impact.

To represent history as a tangible experience to inspire, the Institute of Design wanted to create an experience that honors ID's history and innovation spirit. 


Our approach to addressing this challenge was comprehensive and structured:

1. Research Phase:

We initiated our journey with an in-depth research phase encompassing both field research and desk research. This approach allowed us to gain profound insights into how individuals perceive and navigate through narratives.

2. Development of Design Principles:

Following an exhaustive research endeavor spanning over two weeks, we synthesized our findings into a coherent set of design principles. These principles served as invaluable guidelines informing our subsequent creative concepts.

3. Sketching and Concept Phase:

The subsequent phase involved translation of our insights into tangible concepts, starting with the generation of paper sketches and progressing to the development of miniature models. This process was instrumental in shaping the spatial design experience.

4. Prototyping:

To refine and validate our envisioned narrative flow, we dedicated two weeks to the development and iteration of full-scale prototypes. This phase was critical for understanding how to portray the historical narrative as a fluid progression through time. Moreover, it allowed us to assess how our design harmoniously integrated with the architectural context of the building.

5. Building Phase:

Following the prototyping stage, we transitioned into the construction phase, where we brought the entire structure to life over the course of a month. This was followed by meticulous testing and the curation of the narrative content, ensuring a seamless and immersive visitor experience.

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Sketching and ideation phase at action lab along with mockup prototyping.



An interactive design exhibition at Ed Kaplan Institue of Technology Entreprenureship, Chicago

 From a simple bar of soap to innovative solutions for food, energy, and manufacturing, from camping shelters to apps for urban adventurers, We created an exhibition experience that highlighted the significance of design and the Institute of Design through 85 captivating stories and the crucial role that design plays in enhancing everyday life.


The exhibition is represented as a flow of time with four different wooden structures representing four different eras, Experimentation, Systems, Human - centered design and the Era in progress.  The exhibition includes physical and digital interactions. This experience is built to be an evolving exhibition which in essence will narrate the future of the Institute.



The opening night of the exhibition was a tremendous success, with attendees raving about the amazing conversation that took place. The positive word of mouth led to a significant influx of visitors during the preview weekend, with over 800 individuals attending the exhibition in just a few days. The high visitorship is a testament to the quality of the exhibition and the appeal of its contents to a wide range of audiences. It is a remarkable achievement and a clear indication of the impact this exhibition is likely to have on the public.

This is an evolving exhibition with the next iteration coming in spring 2023.

It’s an impressive body of work, and it feels so good to see it all laid bare on gorgeous tables. I’m also grateful for all of your collaboration over the previous months. This was truly a monumental undertaking, and many other groups would have faltered at the task. You all shined, and everyone’s contributions are evident.

- Tanner Woodford, Founder and  Executive Director, Design Museum of Chicago

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