We are voraciously curious. The world is constantly changing, and we are forever students of change. Luckily, we’re in Chicago, one of the greatest melting pots and rich source of design inspiration. Back in our corporate days, we started doing ‘field trips’ as a way to break out of day-to-day habits and go out to see & experience something new, as a group. Seedhouse proudly continues the field trip tradition.
So, once a quarter or so, we get out in the real world and spend the day checking out stores, restaurants, museums, and different neighborhoods. This month, we headed to Chicago’s Andersonville, Lincoln Park and Ravenswood neighborhoods to find a few new-to-us shops and poke around.
This time we were particularly interested in visiting the indies – specialty neighborhood markets and retail shops where the assortment is highly curated and often feature products not seen in the larger stores.
This was our itinerary:
- Lost Larson (Andersonville)
- Andale Market (Andersonville)
- Five Elements Home (Andersonville)
- XMarket Uptown (formerly Peter Rubi) (Uptown)
- Bocadillo Market (Lincoln Park)
- Taiyaki Chicago (Lincoln Park)
- L&M Fine Foods (Ravenswood)
- Rockwell Bottle Shop & Coffee (Ravenswood)
First Stop – Andersonville
Our first stop was the gorgeous and delicious Lost Larson for breakfast treats and caffeine. The back patio has a couple great hand painted signs, nice neighborhood feel, and made for a nice setting as we debated the FDA’s newly proposed labeling guidelines. 🤨
Then we were off to Andale Market. This well-curated bodega carries many of our favorite brands and we LOVE a market that is curated for packaging and awesome products. Small in footprint, but not in impact, Andale Market represents the new trend of upscale, neighborhood convenience. Next, we got a lesson in how to be the best shop keeper ever by stopping into Five Elements Home, a modern Asian housewares store. The sales person was super knowledgeable and pointed out all the special elements about each of the products that we showed interest in.
The knives he showed us were next level and included a special maker’s mark that is unique to recognized heritage craftsmen of South Korea. The power of his presence and persuasion reminded us of the superpower of the sales person – effectively communicating what you love about the product and how it might make the buyers’ life better. Packaging is a silent salesperson and this experience with a real salesperson is one we’ll try to convey in our packaging designs.
We then roamed around the transitioning, XMarket Uptown, a new vegan-only food market (and former Peter Rubi location). Keep an eye on this space as there’s talk of maintaining a smaller grocery footprint plus a vegan food hall with event space.
Then, Onto Lincoln Park
We had to stop and re-fuel: Bocadillo Market, named one of the Best New Restaurants by bon appétit, was a perfect lunch respite. The meal left us all dreaming of our food long after we had eaten. We topped our spanish meal off with Japanese ice cream at Taiyaki Chicago.
Lots of goodies were found, but what struck us the most was that it seems that the specialty neighborhood market really is on the rise. Both stores also carry a wonderful selection of curated products for people who need to pick something up quickly on their way home. (L&M was thoroughly delightful and the sake selection at Rockwell Bottle Shop was something special).
We also love to see one of our designs stacked high (Dovetail at L&M).We love getting inspired by the different papers, typography, printing techniques, copywriting and illustration styles. It all goes into the creative well to pull from when we are concepting for future packaging design projects. Where should we go on our next Seedhouse field trip?