The Show Must Go On

It's true, the world was different when we started Designing a Better Chicago. When we began building the brand for the new annual celebration of design and social impact, the plan was to launch the inaugural event during NeoCon 2020. We created the visual identity, built a nice little microsite and, as a founding partner, even helped evaluate applications for the new Design Impact Grants program. 

Given...everything, the full line-up of festivities is postponed until 2021. But good news—the first slate of Impact Grant funding will be announced, as planned, this June! In the meantime, click around, maybe learn a thing or two. Many thanks to all the incredible organizations working together to bring this to life: The Mart, Design Museum of Chicago, DCASE, NeoCon and 2FM. 

Mark Your Calendars


Passion Meets Purpose

Humility, hard work, a little imagination and a whole lot of energy? That there’s a formula for getting s#@t done. And it’s the calculus behind Madison Rose, one of our newest clients. 

Named for the founder's two daughters, Madison Rose helps businesses find the perfect home while pushing the boundaries of what an office could be. With so many of us sheltered in place, the prospect of returning to spaces designed to bring out our very best work sounds D-R-E-A-M-Y. In addition to defining the brand identity, we’re creating a full kit of communication materials—website, decks, swag, cards, print collateral, the works. More coming real soon. 

MadRose Making News


To the Class of 2020

Imagine, for a moment, your introduction to adulthood—the thrill and terror of being thrust into the world and asked to find your own footing. Now imagine that during a global pandemic. 

This year’s graduating class is entering a profoundly changed society. The fortitude and flexibility required to ride this storm will shape a generation of courageous, creative new leaders. Let’s all do our best to support them. This month, for Firebelly, that looks like helping evaluate and provide expert feedback as part of the UIC School of Design’s first annual Year End Show. The judging commences this week, with winner’s announced May 8. We’ll be sure to share the results! 

And to all our new graduates, congrats! We can’t wait to celebrate on the other side.

What is Design? 


Making it Work

Social distancing may be on the menu a while longer, but the design community stays strong. Online workshops, digital panels, remote gatherings—if you’re looking to learn and sharpen those skillsets this spring, has got you. Check out the global directory to find an event near (or even far from) you, including a whole bunch of virtual conferences. 

And for artists, freelancers, parents, small business owners and many others, While At Home has put together a wonderful interactive guide pointing to all kinds of resources, including emergency grants and relief funds, helplines, ACA enrollment links and more. Let’s keep taking care of ourselves and each other. 

Find Artist Relief Funds


Tough Conversations

This month in Ideas, Dean talks tough talks. That’s right—sticky chats, rough and tumble rumbles, i.e. good old fashioned honest conversation. 

How might we cultivate stronger creative practices and partnerships, especially while navigating various flavors of anxiety? We don’t wanna spoil anything, but it might just start with becoming a damn good listener, asking real good questions and maybe even getting comfortable with the words “I don’t know.” As one can expect from Dean, it’s a thoughtful, wholehearted reflection on what it means to understand oneself and others in the midst of making things together.  Come for the real talk, stay for the Rumi quotes. 

Get Ready 2 Rumble