Over the past year, Tanner Woodford (executive director of ChiDM) has sent hundreds of letters to a variety of people across all walks of life. In it, he kindly asks the recipient to answer a broad question that traces back to the medium on which it was sent.
“What's worth preserving?”
Responses poured in. Each was more interesting and profound than the previous, expressing its author's heartfelt, authentic and captivating thoughts through their handwriting. While the individual letters are fascinating, the sum of the portfolio is greater than its parts.
In an era of constant distractions, the process of writing a letter by hand serves as a reminder to breathe, and to be in the moment. Writing an answer to a thoughtful question promotes reflection. Unexpectedly, the project also produced other rewards like a discussion with John Massey on astrological philosophy, an original piece of art from Debbie Millman, and a one-year supply of strawberry preserves from Matthew Hoffman.
For more, check out WBEZ's Morning Shift, WGN Radio's The Download with Justin Kaufmann, Columbia Chronicle's "Design Museum launches book Kickstarter" and The Oregonian's "5 things Tanner Woodford knows for sure about design."
Every Sunday morning, Woodford sends a scanned response to members of ChiDM in a private newsletter. The letters are then transcribed and archived on a password-protected, members-only website. In addition to a one-year membership to ChiDM, backers at the $100 level will receive full access to the online archive, and an original, rare and collectible press sheet from the book's production. (This members-only content series is continuing in 2018 with a weekly campaign that contains the oldest objects in Chicagoland's vast collections.)
Largely centered in Chicago, responses came from across disciplines and borders. In alphabetic order, respondents include: 50,000ft, Duffie Adelson, Justin Ahrens, Lauren Boegen, David Bohnett, Borough+Block, Christen Carter, Ivan Chermayeff, Elizabeth Crane, Bart Crosby, Rob Dewey, Daniel Eatock, Dave Eggers, Joseph Michael Essex, Chris Froeter, Seth Godin, Jane Goodall, J.P. Graziano, John Greiner, David Hiller, Matthew Hoffman, Dr. A. Hope Jahren, Susan Jackson Keig, Kim Knoll, Edwin C. Krupp, Leon Lederman, Alice Legendre, George Lois, Jeanne Long, Russell Lord, Brian Mansfield, Victor Margolin, Debbie Millman, Martha Murray, Christoph Niemann, Art Paul, Wallace Paprocki, Jodi Picoult, Bobby Reichle, Mig Reyes, Bud Rodecker, Jessica Barrett Sattell, Louise Sandhaus, Matthew Shlian, David Spadafora, Jonathan Solomon, Elissa Tenny, John Tipton, Hunter Tura, Brad White, Jason White and Alisa Wolfson.
(Note: Please be patient as we work through the editing process. This is not a full list of letters that will be published, and in fact, not all of these letters will be published. Responses are being actively solicited while we continue editing the publication.)
The first response came from Dave Eggers of McSweeney’s and 826 Valencia, who suggested "it's worth preserving the knowledge that good design comes from good designers (not robots)" on a custom, hand-drawn letterhead.
Later, President Elissa Tenny, the 15th executive and first woman to lead the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, shared thoughts on "the pursuit of the question." All Kickstarter backers will receive this complete note (and others) in project updates.
Bestselling author Seth Godin sent a giant novelty post-it note with a short list on it that included both "lemons" and "giving a damn/making a ruckus."
Proceeds from sales of this book support ChiDM, a 501c3 non-profit organization that strengthens design culture and builds community. For ChiDM, the book is a critical step in a broader effort to promote cultural discourse, preserving ideas alongside those that have them.
This book of 50 letters is the first edition. It's published by ChiDM, created by its executive director Tanner Woodford, edited by Christopher Jobson of Colossal, with a project video by Bowie. Thanks to Sonnenzimmer for contributing a custom-designed portfolio to this campaign. This book is made possible through the enormous support of our generous and inspiring Kickstarter backers.
Risks and challenges
In May 2014, the Chicago Design Museum launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign for its first exhibition in a new permanent space. In the first 29 days, the campaign had raised around $30,000, toward a $50,000 goal. With panic-induced persistence, we raised an additional $24,000 in the final hours, fully funding our project. Tens of thousands saw the exhibition because of the community's support, and we've since installed seven more exhibitions in Block Thirty Seven.
Though we hope this campaign is a little smoother, our first experience thoroughly impressed the risks and challenges of running a Kickstarter campaign upon us.
We've learned a lot, and are excited to try this again.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (44 days)