The Society of Typographic Arts has long played a vital role in shaping the Chicago design community—for 88 years, to be exact. Its current members, fellows, award winners and honorary members represent a diverse cross-section of aesthetics and thinking—with work spanning graphic design, visual communication and artistic expression. In 2014, Archive celebrated its 10th year, adding dimension to the STA’s already diverse calendar of events. Tasked with creating an integrated campaign for the competition’s anniversary year, 50,000feet was chosen as Archive’s agency of record, concepting and designing a suite of materials that drove engagement across Chicago’s design community—from the city’s students to upstarts to design luminaries. Representing design excellence, Archive14 captures the energy and essence of Chicago’s design landscape, pulling together work across media, function and style to give a true representation of what it means to be a designer working in Chicago today. The purpose of the Archive is to go beyond fads and fashion and to celebrate that which has significance and staying power.
Depicting Chicago as a beacon of ambition—a beautiful, feverish leviathan that calls out to the fearless spirit—50,000feet positioned the competition as a chance for designers to stake out a permanent place within the Chicago design community. Using street photography—as pioneered by Chicago’s New Bauhaus—the concept provides a cinematic backdrop that speaks directly to the designer through aspirational headlines and quotations from world-renowned figures, speaking to the impact Chicago has left upon them. From Charles and Ray Eames to Marcia Lausen, Saul Bass to Rick Valicenti, Bruno Munari to James Goggin—these are but a few of the designers whose works call the Archive home, and the 50,000feet campaign sought to build on this rich legacy.
The judges selected work that bridges timelessness and nowness, that gives shape to that hard-to-explain Chicago style and that rattles the cage of convention. Offering the chance to #defineyourplace, a supporting social media campaign engaged the design community—from the open call and even beyond the exhibition. Incorporating commissioned street-style photography by Tim Klein, Archive14 features designers that have found and continue to find their places within the greater Chicago design landscape. Printed by Classic Color, the large-scale posters resemble larger-than-life contact sheets, capturing very distinct moments in time.