CHICAGO, IL.-The Art Institute of Chicago presents the exhibit Graphic Thought Facility: Resourceful Design through August 17. This is the first exhibition at the Art Institute devoted solely to the work of a single design firm. Established in 1990 by Paul Neale, Andy Stevens, and Nigel Robinson, GTF is emerging as one of the most progressive and creative design firms working in both two and three dimensions. The firm is well known in Britain for creating the brand identities of some of the bastions of British design, including Habitat, a furnishings and interior design retailer launched in 1964 by Terence Conran; the Design Museum in London; and Frieze, Londons major annual contemporary art fair. Also active in book design, GTF designed monographs on the work of Tord Boonjte and Ron Arad as well as the exhibition catalogue for the 54th Carnegie International in 2003, all of which are presented in the exhibition. Projects for the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Science Museumincluding exhibition and installation graphicsand products for the Tate Britain and Tate Modern retail stores evidence the firms versatility in bringing their practice from page to space.
Both comprehensive and innovative, GTFs design work cuts across commercial and cultural practices as well as high-tech and low-tech modes of production. Committed to the expressive power of images and typography, GTF is known for pushing the boundaries of materials and methods. Rejecting the slickly styled graphics that characterized much of British design in the 1990s, GTF instead favors a do-it-yourself aesthetic. This handmade feel is evident in Stealing Beauty, a catalogue for the Institute of Contemporary Art in London that consists of a humble binder compilation of original materials such as postcards, labels, and handwritten questionnaires by designers in the exhibition, and in the materials for Shakespeares Globe Theater, which stress not the personality of the actors but the behind-the-scenes workings of the theater itself.