University of Illinois - Innovation Center


Take a space that had originally been a grocery store and which subsequently had been converted into a hands-on maker space for industrial design students and turn it into a Center for Innovation. The main convening space at the center of the facility needed to be flexible, allowing it to be reconfigured for lectures, meetings and presentations with breakout spaces available within the room. A large section of one of the walls was required to function as a projection screen. And most importantly, the space needed to be inspiring, playful and fun!


  • White walls and grey concrete floors in the offices, cafe and lounge areas

  • Primarily white walls and grey wall-to-wall carpeting in the convening space


In the main convening space, we started by creating a color palette that worked with the original orange painted wall within the space. We painted the columns in the center of the room a light color in order to help minimize the visual obstruction. We also used magnetic paint and covered them with magnetic poetry to inspire students to have some fun. For the furnishings we sourced all vintage furniture and reupholstered the seating with high quality commercial grade fabrics. Hats and toys were placed around the room and on the tabletops to encourage play and divergent thinking.
In the office areas and hallways we hung vintage artwork. For the cafe, we sourced some vintage chairs to go with the existing tables. An artist "tattooed" the tables with patterns, as well as some of the walls in the area. On the floor, she painstakingly painted patterns that she had created to act as mini carpets under the tables.
In the lounge area, the same artist painted a couple of large "rug patterns" onto the floor to act as seating anchors. Once again, all the furniture was vintage and reupholstered.


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