Design for a Living World Photo Essay

A Photography Display, Lurie Garden in Millennium Park, Opens April 15

CHICAGO | March 07, 2011

"Design for a Living World Photo Essay” – a display of photographs by award-winning photojournalist Ami Vitale, taken on expedition for The Nature Conservancy – opens at the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park on Friday, April 15. Through Vitale’s previously unpublished photos, the essay showcases landscapes in Alaska, China, Mexico and Illinois, and sustainable materials within them.

“Design for a Living World Photo Essay” was developed by The Nature Conservancy, which presents the essay with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Lurie Garden in Millennium Park, Millennium Park, Inc. and the Chicago Office of Tourism. Graphic designer Abbott Miller is co-curator of the essay, on view through Sunday, Nov. 13, along the east and south sides of the Lurie Garden near Millennium Park’s Monroe Street entrance. Admission is free. Millennium Park and the Lurie Garden are open daily from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The photo essay reveals extraordinary stories about our human connection to Earth. Vitale, whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek and National Geographic, accompanied the designers on their expeditions as they sourced natural materials and worked them into new design pieces.

The Lurie Garden photo essay showcases places that inspired designers Isaac Mizrahi, Ezri Tarazi, Hella Jongerius and Christien Meindertsma to create objects from local, sustainable materials. These results will be among 11 pieces on display in the Conservancy’s “Design for a Living World” Exhibition at The Field Museum in Chicago, from Friday, May 13 through Sunday, Nov. 13. For more information about the exhibition, please visit

The photo essay at the Lurie Garden shows creative results of the designers’ travels to four places where the Conservancy works that inspired the designers:

Famed fashion designer Mizrahi turned Alaskan salmon skin – typically a waste product of the salmon industry – into a dress that references the fishes’ scales.

Industrial designer Tarazi designed a series of adjustable components that connect to mature bamboo stalks from China’s Yunnan Province, creating a domestic forest that supports a range of living arrangements.

Dutch designer Jongerius traveled to the Yucatan Peninsula to observe traditional chicle latex harvesting and explore possibilities for its use beyond chewing gum production, resulting in more than 20 embellished vessels and plates.

Christien Meindertsma, also a Dutch designer, collected prairie plants from the Illinois Nachusa Grasslands to create a unique, “plant-able” book with pages made from the plants’ seeds.

The four-season Lurie Garden – a biologically diverse habitat for migratory birds, butterflies and beneficial insects – is the perfect setting for this naturalistic photo essay. An urban oasis emerging from a harmonious blend of symbolism, landscape design and ecological sensitivity, the Lurie Garden in Millennium Park pays homage to Chicago’s transformation from flat mashland to innovative green city.

Visitors can learn more about their connections to Earth through year-long free garden programming, including a lecture with the Lurie Garden’s renowned Dutch planting designer Piet Oudolf, at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 2. The lecture is sponsored by the Winnetka Garden Club. A free adult workshop at 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 25 includes a garden walk with the Lurie Garden’s official plant grower, Roy Diblick, owner of Northwind Perennial Farm.

Lurie Garden programs presented with the Conservancy include “Conserving Fresh Water,” at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 28, with the Conservancy’s Illinois Director of Conservation Bob Moseley. A morning bird and nature walk hosted by the Conservancy and Lurie Garden is at 8 a.m. on Thursday, May 5 and repeats at 8 a.m. on Thursday, May 19.

The photo essay is made possible by Lead Sponsor Northern Trust and Sustainability Sponsor Accenture. Presenting Partners include The Field Museum, Millennium Park and the Lurie Garden.

Millennium Park, managed and programmed by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, is an award-winning center for art, music, architecture and landscape design. The result of a unique partnership between the City of Chicago and the philanthropic community, the 24.5-acre park located in the heart of Chicago features the work of world-renowned architects, planners, artists and designers.

Among Millennium Park’s prominent features are the Frank Gehry-designed Jay Pritzker Pavilion, interactive Crown Fountain by Jaume Plensa; contemporary Lurie Garden designed by the team of Gustafson Guthrie Nichol, Piet Oudolf and Robert Israel; and Anish Kapoor’s hugely popular Cloud Gate sculpture. The Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is dedicated to promoting an ongoing celebration of the arts and supporting the people who create and sustain them.

For information about Millennium Park, please call 312-742-1168 or visit For information about the Lurie Garden, including details on year-round free adult and family workshops, garden walks and seasonal events, please visit


The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at

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