Tanner Woodford is co-founder, chairman, and executive director of the Chicago Design Museum, maker of Iterative Work and lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Throughout his career, Tanner has worked as a product designer, community organizer, interaction designer and developer. He has taught and lectured on design issues, history and rapid ideation in professional and academic settings. He is irrepressibly optimistic, and believes design has the capacity to fundamentally improve the human condition.

Email Tanner with speaking, press and collaborative inquiries.

Nine recent projects:

Chicago Design Museum: Unfolded

Unfolded is an exhibition at the Chicago Design Museum that includes contributions from the Chicago design community and across the world.

Living in an era of digital technology, more aspects of our lives are playing out on screen. Yet paper remains unparalleled in its importance and usefulness. Today’s designers, artists, and architects rely heavily on paper-based materials in the development, communication, and presentation of their ideas. Inspired by Container Corporation of America’s 1968 exhibition Made with Paper, Unfolded explores the unique properties of paper as a medium, as well as the diverse applications of paper as a means and an end in the work of contemporary designers and artists. (Photo courtesy of Peyote Creative.)

Iterative Work: Volume 2.5

Iterative Work is a flexible, open-source company that celebrates impermanence by featuring a single product. Volume 2.0 explores Threadless' Artist Shops, a print-on-demand service.

Volume 2.5 is available for now.

ChiDM × City of Chicago: Great Ideas of Humanity

With a desire to engage the general public in cultural discourse, Container Corporation of America initiated an unprecedented advertising campaign entitled the Great Ideas of Western Man. For 25 years, celebrated artists and designers were commissioned to create artwork that responded to quotes by leading scientists, philosophers, and academics.

With reverence and enthusiasm, the Chicago Design Museum renews this historic series. Our reprise, the Great Ideas of Humanity, is an acknowledgment of the increasing globalization or our world and resulting cross-pollination of ideas, philosophies, societies, and culture. In this spirit, we aspire to connect contemporary artists with important thinkers, to create new a new series of advertisements, delivered as a mailer to our membership and displayed in public areas throughout the city.

Threadless: The Shape of Things to Come

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video must be a jillion.

Stop reading this, and watch the sculpture perpetually and slowly spin at the Threadless headquarters (in collaboration with Might Make.)

ChiDM × AIGA Chicago: This is Chicago

As AIGA celebrated its centennial in 2014, the Chicago Design Museum and AIGA Chicago joined forces to capture this defining time in our history, our community and our city.

Over the course of the year, we sought out and interviewed an eclectic mix of designers who have had significant impact on us—in hopes that their passion, perseverance, humility and bravery will enable you to see Chicago the way that we see it. Our intent was not to chronicle the history of design in Chicago, but to celebrate what it is that makes our community different than any other. We are friends, rivals, and collaborators. We follow our hearts, roll up our sleeves, and get shit done.

Arizona State University: A Clock for Identity Designers

With the knowledge that a person is constantly surrounded by brands and advertisements, I decided to take a detailed snapshot of my daily brand-interaction. At the time, I was working under the direction of Professor Alfred Sanft at Arizona State University.

Designers, scholars, psychologists, and sociologists have been writing about the overexposure of advertisements in our consumption-crazy culture for a decade or longer. I wondered what conclusions could be drawn from a series of questions. What brands did I observe before I had even exited the shower in the morning? Did I interact with certain brands at specific times of the day? What could I determine from a time-based brand interaction journal? Beginning the moment my alarm buzzed on Wednesday 14 October 2008, and ending when my head hit the pillow nearly 18 hours later, I obsessively chronicled every brand, logo, identity or symbol. This clock presents the 1,035 identities I encountered.

PRINT Magazine: 75th Anniversary Commission

In honor of Print’s 75th anniversary, editor-in-chief Debbie Millman asked 75 creatives to design the word “print.” Only specs were provided, without further direction.

The community included luminaries like Marian Bantjes, Seymour Chwast, Ed Fella and Paula Scher, who offered reinterpretations of the Print masthead, reflections on the printed form, the history of the magazine and everything between. My interpretation took a foundational approach, borrowing a square from Armin Hofmann's 1959 poster for Robert Jacobsen and Serge Poliakoff, a triangle from El Lissitzky's 1919 propaganda poster “Beat the Whites with the Red Wedge” and a circle from Paul Rand's 1991 logo for Morningstar. The letterforms imply depth, and a sunrise over an ocean is revealed upside down.

Get out the Vote: A Typeface for Charles Dawson

In 1856, this message was heralded by an incomparable civil rights activist named Abraham Lincoln. In an exhibition at the World’s Fair 70 years later, Annie E Oliver built a replica of Jean Baptiste Point du Sable’s cabin, while Charles Dawson painted an important rendition of “CHICAGO” on the cover of its catalog. Point du Sable was the founder of Chicago, and Dawson was a leading African American designer in Chicago in the ‘20s and ‘30s. The letterforms and illustrations here are based on Dawson’s.

Initially designed for AIGA's 2016 Get Out the Vote campaign. this civic engagement poster wields the power of design to motivate the American public to register and turn out to vote in the 2016 general election.

Iterative Work × Typeforce: Volume 1.1

Iterative Work is a flexible, open-source company that features a single product that is refined periodically. Volume 1 explores and celebrates inconsistencies in the Risograph printing process by overprinting a grid of 25 squares × 25 sheets, producing a unique 50 × 50” composition. DIY instructions were published under a Creative Commons license.

You’re looking at Volume 1.1, a site-specific installation for Typeforce that builds on the foundation of Volume 1, nudges the original concept toward new territory, and fulfills the mission of creating iterative work. This edition explores the creation of letterforms through the overprinting of orange squares in succession. The inherently inconsistent registration in Risograph printing creates depth and tension as squares overlap.

Tanner Woodford, Chicago Ill., 2017.