Made In Englewood: What Do You See on the Streets of Chicago?
Creators of the product design firm Eric Hotchkiss and Andre' Westelle, Made in Englewood, use readily available materials from empty lots in the neighborhood to build and design products branded, “Made in Englewood”.
With both Eric and Andre’ sharing a background in product design, they admired one another’s work prior to meeting through a mutual friend and started Made In Englewood. In an effort to plan a gallery to showcase their work, they were inspired by city initiatives like the Large Lot Program, where the city sells vacant residential lots for a dollar to property owners.
“Eventually we kind of realized that instead of doing a traditional gallery where we’re explaining our work, why don’t we do some community engagement. Not just showing them what we can make but showing them things they could possibly make as well. We held workshops throughout the week on how to make some of these objects out of readily available materials that can be found in an alleyway or in their backyard or anywhere…” said co-founder and designer, Andre about their summer workshops.
Many residents have been taking advantage of the Large Lot Program and with the city undergoing major new development, especially on the south and west side, the duo wanted to encourage the multiple sustainable ways residents could activate and beautify these newly purchased lots. In the summer of 2017 they connected with Boombox Chicago to facilitate workshops that taught Englewood residents how to design their own items from the neighborhood scraps.
“We made a bunch of different objects, from re-purposed cheap material, like benches, we made tables, grills out of discarded tires, we made a chair out of discarded oil barrels but the thing was that we wanted inspire people to put it in their own spaces and take ownership of those spaces,” said other designer and co-founder Eric.
Their skills and knowledge in product design can range from designing objects similar to what their summer pop-up consisted of to designing entire spaces. Although their community engagement piece is centered around showing and teaching others to build things, this work is also encouraging sustainability in ways that acknowledge neighborhood beautification, people power and creative expression.
“So what we do and especially in our community engagement piece is more place-making and if you come to our workshops you’re learning the basic skills in making things and now you can build your own things or meet other residents who find interest in building their own objects. You can now get together with them and build as a group and that speaks to how we can affect place-making in a realistic way,” said Eric Hotchkiss.
Englewood is historically a makers place, known for large and industrial building where people were building and designing so Made In Englewood wants to ignite those trade skills that many residents already have with this design firm.
Both designers are very busy these days but will eventually be exposing us to more of their work and ideas as the summer gradually approaches. Make sure you’re following them on Instagram @made_in_englewood.