This summer, a communal work environment called Lodgic Everyday Community will be opening, but it plans to be much more than just a shared office space. Promising a great amount of flexibility, Lodgic wants to provide community members with office space, drop in child care, and ready to go options for meals. Flexibility is absolutely crucial to their mission; the office spaces have plans for a variety of work environments—couches, desks, private phone booths to make calls, small meeting rooms, large conference spaces, and an event space that holds up to 100 people. Child care is on a drop-in basis and there will be two options for food: a casual grab and go and a sit down restaurant for business lunches or dinners with the family. As a space, it’s thoughtfully designed so that the front is fun and vibrant, with space available to work with your children nearby or while you're grabbing a bite to eat. The further back into the building you go, the quieter it will be, allowing for more focused work. On the whole, it seems flexibility and family come first, providing countless options for you to manage your work and life in whatever way you need.

While they’re committed to making the lives of individuals easier, they’re also striving to create a sense of community within their space and to connect with surrounding community generally. So they’re commissioning local artists to contribute their artwork to the space, to help bring in the flavor of Champaign Urbana so to speak. Nine artists were selected to contribute: Anna Longworth, Barry Abrams, Kim Curtis, Lisa Kesler, Nathan Westerman, Stacey Gross, Daniel Hadley, Kelly Hieronymus, and Ekah. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a tour given to these artists so they could see the space for themselves.

As we walked around the space, that’s currently still a work in progress itself, we were able to see the skeletons of the walls on which art would sit, as well as renderings of what the space will soon look like. We also were able to hear from representatives at Lodgic about how the spaces could be used, and the ways in which the art would function. In some cases, Lodgic is taking their artwork and using it in new ways—blowing it up to a different scale or applying to different material. Lisa Kesler commented, “I am impressed by the designers' ability to come up with unique ways to use art in the interior space of the building. There will be some traditional applications, like paintings hanging on the walls, but there are also going to be a few unique and unexpected uses of art in the interior.” In Kesler’s case, they’ll be taking some of her linoleum block print designs, scanning, and enlarging them to create a giant vinyl mural to cover one of the walls.

Due to construction surrounding the future front doors, we started our tour at the back, in the quieter office space. We saw the seating bank area that will display a mosaic of Dan Hadley’s black and white photographs of seed pods and pine cones. “All of the seeds/pods/fruits/cones have either been collected outside my office on lunch break walks, or at nearby forests (Lake of the Woods, Meadowbrook Park, etc). The idea behind the display is to remind people of their natural surroundings, and that there is beauty and complexity even in seemingly simple things,” said Hadley.

We also saw outlines of small “phone booth” offices, where there will be enlarged prints of Anna Longworth’s photos. After some debate and consulting of floor plans, we found the rather large wall that will feature Kim Curtis’ work. We were introduced to the kids friendly area that will feature Ekah’s dynamic lenticular pieces, which subtly change as you move past them. We also got a sense of where Nathan Westerman’s compositions of reclaimed materials would be. “I draw inspiration from the visual composition of language, repetition of music, and the rhythms of machines,” he said, in describing his work.

One of my favorite ways in which the art will be utilized is in the case of Kelly Hieronymus. Her work will be blown up and printed on fabric, which will be hung in panels the dining room of the sit down restaurant, bringing beautiful images and bit of the landscape inside. “My work primarily focuses on aerial views of central Illinois inspired by my time in the air with my husband. My art is about our relationship with the land: both good and bad... I hope my work inspires people to look around and find beauty in what they see, whether is a concrete jungle or the flat land that surrounds CU,” she said. 

I also got the chance to connect with some of the artists afterwards to hear their thoughts on the project generally. Barry Abrams, who was commissioned to create screen-print posters of various neighborhoods, said, “I think the Lodgic building is an interesting concept and something needed in Champaign. Entrepreneurs need a home base. Having a flexible workspace with drop-in childcare and a place to get something to eat makes day-to-day life much easier.” This seemed to be a popular opinion among the tour guests. When we got to discussing child care and the hopes that it will ease the pressures of both work and home life—especially for young professional women—I heard whispers of “I wish I had that” within the crowd. Hearing about what they hope the space can be for people and being able to connect with artists who get to influence that space was inspiring.

I really enjoyed seeing the thoughtful and unique ways in which the artists’ work will be incorporated, as well as seeing the artists’ faces when they were able to see where their work is going to be displayed. Towards the end, many questions started to come up about specifics—dimensions and renderings and color schemes. It's clear the artists were ready to go; their enthusiasm was palpable. I look forward to the final product.

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For more information on Lodgic Everyday Community, click here

Photos of tour by Kate Fenton.

Photos of artwork kindly provided by artists: pine cone image by Dan Hadley, circular composition by Nathan Westerman, colorful aerial by Kelly Hieronymus, Art Theater graphic by Barry Abrams.