In Chicago, a Photo Frame Aims to Kickstart Local Manufacturing

By Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch
Nov 11 2014 |
Courtesy DesignHouse Inc., via Kickstarter

If every picture tells a story, a newly unveiled picture frame could just tell the story of the revitalization of local American manufacturing.

Chicago-based nonprofit DesignHouse Inc. launched the Reveal photo frame on Kickstarter today. The innovative product allows users to tuck a photo into the corner slots of the frame, thereby making it easier to change out photographs. DesignHouse is aiming to raise $20,000 for the frame on the crowdsourcing site —and had already raised about $3,500 as of Tuesday morning.

But Reveal isn’t just any ordinary picture frame. It’s the first product released by DesignHouse, which works alongside local manufacturers to design a product that is suited to their capacities. DesignHouse organizes events called “Design Jams” in which 40 to 50 professional designers, makers, and others work with a local manufacturer to come up with a new product.

DesignHouse describes itself as “farm-to-table for design and manufacturing.” Says Pam Daniels, one of the nonprofit’s founding partners:

“We believe design has a big role to play in revitalizing U.S. manufacturing. We grew tired of seeing small local manufacturers close their doors, and decided to engage the design community to develop new products based on the manufacturing capabilities we have here in Chicago.”

Metal fabricator SKOL Manufacturing took part in the first Design Jam back in June and will manufacture the Reveal photo frame — which comes in 4×4 and 4×6 sizes — if it reaches its Kickstarter goal. If the project is fully funded, backers who give at least $20 will earn a reward for their support, from a 4×4 frame to an opportunity to take part in a future Design Jam session.

Click here to visit the Reveal Kickstarter page.