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As Chair of the Exhibition Design Committee for the Design Museum of Chicago, Michelle helped lead a team of designers and architects to design and build unique, engaging, and creative exhibition experiences for visitors from around the world. For each exhibition, the team designed and transformed the museum space to best complement the artworks on display and communicate each exhibition's theme to visitors. The team also constructed all necessary elements for the exhibitions and the museum’s ever-changing retail space.


These exhibition experiences helped create a unique sense of place, and, over the years, the museum has become a space where a diverse group of designers and makers from across Chicagoland gather to connect, share ideas, and collaborate.


Exhibition Design


Deborah Sussman Loves Los Angeles! showcased the work of legendary graphic artist and designer, Deborah Sussman, and spoke to her influence on the field of environmental graphic design and on the culture of L.A. itself. As an homage to her exuberant and bold style, the Design Museum of Chicago gallery was transformed by a winding array of colors and large-scale graphics that took over the space. Seating elements were designed to look like the starting block for the 1984 Olympic Games, which were designed by Sussman. A communal table was inspired by her work on the House of Cards game, which she collaborated on with Charles and Ray Eames.


State of Detroit tackled the notions of social, political, and economic mobility and immobility in the nation’s great Motor City. To engage museum visitors with the idea of transportation, a giant route map, made of electroluminescent wire, was suspended from the ceiling covering the entire exhibition space. Interactive displays were employed to make the exhibition content intuitive, engaging, and fun. For example, maps showing access to food, population, and economic growth could be moved and layered to get a deeper understanding of the socio-economic state of Detroit.


Unfolded explored the unique properties of paper as a medium as well as the diverse applications of paper in the design process of contemporary artists and designers. Working with planar elements and the materiality of the different stages that paper goes through during manufacturing, the exhibition design team transformed the museum gallery into an explosion of paper, pulp, and wood.