ESI Design’s Chicago Digital Media Installation Wins 2018 GOOD DESIGN Award

Posted February 8, 2019

A digital art installation in Chicago uses a software algorithm to "paint". Shown here is an abstracted river scene.

We’re excited to share that Canvas, a digital media installation at Chicago’s 515 North State Street, has won a GOOD DESIGN Award for Best Installation/Video.

The GOOD DESIGN Awards, now in its 68th year, are the oldest and considered the most prestigious global awards program for Design Excellence and Design Innovation.

Award-winning digital media installation: Canvas

A river boat pierces through dreamy greenery. The Chicago Navy Pier’s carousel and iconic Ferris wheel swirl into abstraction against the blue sky. A birds-eye view of Chicago Marathon runners dissolves into streaks of color. As each video collides with the next, new compositions unfold in real time, creating over 5,000 possibilities in this one of-a-kind evolving digital artwork.

Located in Chicago, this new digital media installation puts a paintbrush in the hand of the city. 515 North State Street, built in the 1990s by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Kenzo Tange, is a modern architectural icon in Chicago’s vibrant River North neighborhood. It features bold, angular forms and a striking lobby, that until now lacked warmth, intimacy and wow-factor at street level.

ESI Design worked with the owners of 515 North State, Beacon Capital Partners, to reimagine the lobby as a lively contemporary art space. Playing on the typical old-school approach of hanging an abstract painting in a lobby, ESI created a unique 14-foot-wide-by-23-foot-tall digital permanent public art installation that algorithmically ‘paints’ new compositions 24/7/365 in an Impressionist style, inspired by artists from Vincent van Gogh to Gerhart Richter.

The site-specific installation deconstructs original video footage of life in the River North neighborhood; as the colors of one scene merge into another, new compositions are made. The piece is intentionally slow and meditative, and is constantly on a journey of transition into abstraction and then back into figurative, legible video imagery.

The resulting experience goes beyond both typical large media installations and traditional paintings to create a museum-worthy work of art that visually evokes the energy and motion of the neighborhood.


See more of Canvas and 515 North State Street

One of our designers wrote about the custom software that drives the digital media installation, putting the paintbrush in the hand of the city of Chicago.

Canvas has captured the attention of the press internationally, garnering millions of views in outlets including Discovery Channel, designboom and Engadget.

Olivia El-Sadr Davis

Olivia is a former member of ESI Design’s Marketing and Business Development Team, blogging about the latest happenings at ESI and beyond.

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