Issue 16 Introduction

© David Sieren


A production of Production. Issue statement by Iker Gil, editor in chief of MAS Context


Last year, we collaborated with architect John Szot for our Aberration issue, and this winter we have the pleasure to team up with The Post Family for our issue on Production. The Post Family, a Chicago-based collective formed in 2007 by seven artists and designers, came together in support of each other’s passions as well as the larger design community in Chicago. Their space serves as gallery, letterpress and printing studio, experimental music venue and creative incubator. Earlier this year, they organized “Manual Labor,” an exhibition focusing on the renewed interest in skill trades in our modern marketplace. It was a celebration of the handcraft and physical labor that continues to inspire us. With their obvious love for making things, it seemed a perfect opportunity to collaborate on this issue.

We enjoyed many conversations and gatherings, during which an innumerable number of possible contributors, themes and formats were discussed and considered. The process uncovered many directions, which was both exciting and daunting, if intended to address the topic in a comprehensive and complete way.

We finally narrowed our approach to Production to two specific areas: the impact of production in our cities and built environment, and a focus on several companies we love, with a specific emphasis in those operating in Chicago. We are completely aware that this is just a tiny portion of all the possible ways in which the topic of Production could be explored. Many other areas of interest and current initiatives related to the topic brought up during our conversations had to finally be left out of the issue. I am sure in a future issue we will revisit several of the aspects uncovered during our collaboration.

The impact of Production in our built environment is explored through the words and photographs of Nina Rappaport, Deborah Richmond and Edward Burtynsky. They take us through the history and role of factories in our cities, the landscape created by the distribution of goods, and the impact that manufacturing, consumption and recycling have on our landscape.

For our second area of interest, I’d like to mention a brief personal anecdote. During a visit to Bilbao a few years ago, along with my parents I visited the facilities of Vicinay Cadenas, a family-run company dedicated to fabricating offshore mooring chains. Unknown to me until that point, this company was founded in 1760 and is the leader in its sector, with over 70% of the world production. A 250-year old worldwide leading company located basically in my backyard and completely foreign to me. It was a fascinating visit, for both its rich history and its production process, and it made me wonder how many fascinating companies are around us, in our own cities, ones that go completely unnoticed.

So it was a pleasure to take the opportunity to explore companies based in Chicago, our editorial hometown, from those whose work is based on craft, excellence and tradition to those blurring the lines between consumers and producers to the ones that produce software for us to continue to produce. We visited the facilities and talked to the founders of Horween Leather Company, Heritage Bicycles General Store, Threadless and 37signals about the history, ideas and goals of those companies. The photographs of David Sieren are the perfect companions to the conversations included in this issue.

Beyond our city limits, we talked to the San Francisco-based THE THING Quarterly, a “periodical in the form of an object,” and we toured, via Andreas E.G. Larsson’s photographs, the iconic Colby Poster Printing Company. Having shaped the identity of Los Angeles since 1946 with their bright-colored posters for political campaigns, yard signs and concerts, we were saddened to learn that, unless there is a last-minute turn of events, they will be closing their doors in the next few months. We hope that the photographs and comments from some of those who worked with them pay a much-deserved homage to this emblematic family-run company.

Finally, we close the issue at a more personal level, featuring your favorite object, the one you can’t live without, the one you use to produce whatever you produce, the one with the most sentimental value or the one with the best story. Thanks for submitting your favorite object and letting us know about your personal story.

We hope that the issue helps you think about your city, uncovers interesting stories behind production places, and sparks your curiosity about what is produced in your city. Take a look around you, you won’t be disappointed.


Iker Gil is an architect, urban designer, and director of MAS Studio. In addition, he is the editor in chief of MAS Context. He is the recipient of the 2010 Emerging Visions Award from the Chicago Architectural Club. | @MASContext

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