The Business of Design

Posters commissioned by the Chicago Design Museum on display in Hong Kong

Three posters created by Simple Truth designers were recently displayed during the 2016 Hong Kong Business of Design Week (BODW). How did our work end up in Hong Kong? As a sister city, Chicago was named the partner city for the 2016 BODW. The Hong Kong Trade Development Council’s local counterpart, World Business Chicago (WBC), asked the Chicago Design Museum (ChiDM) to plan an exhibition that would highlight Chicago’s creative community.

As an annual sponsor of ChiDM, Simple Truth was asked to submit a poster. Instead, we submitted six, three of which were displayed during BODW.


The inspiration for Great Ideas of Humanity

In 1950, Walter Paepcke, founder of the Container Corporation of America, started the Great Ideas of Western Man campaign. Paepcke commissioned artists to visually interpret quotes from famous great thinkers of Western culture. The campaign was so successful, it ran for 25 years, ending in 1975.

With great reverence for Great Ideas of Western Man, the ChiDM team restarted the campaign and retitled it Great Ideas of Humanity. This title acknowledges the increasing globalization of the world and recognizes that great ideas are not limited to gender, nationality, culture, race, etc. Each poster presents a contemporary designer’s interpretation of a quotation by one of the world’s great thinkers.

For the Hong Kong BODW, ChiDM featured 26 plates from the first two years of the original campaign (1950–1952). They contrasted those with 24 newly commissioned works, including 16 posters, two motion graphics pieces and six 3D responses. All artists involved, with the exception of two, are Chicago-based designers.

The Posters

Lucy Larcom quote
This simple quote inspired an equally simple typographic solution — using color to largely convey the meaning. Designer: Marcus Norman
Anne Sophie Swetchine quote
In our fast-paced society where thoughts go a mile a minute and are typically self-centered and self-loving, we forget about loving and caring for each other. So I wanted to show how through the noise of thoughts, we can start a love revolution. Only if we allow ourselves to love deeply, would that extend to all facets of our lives. Visually, I wanted to represent this thinking as single, multi-directional lines, and the one that’s different — the deep love that would make us more loving altogether. The quote runs through the “thoughts” as a poem. Designer: Ina West
Montesquieu quote
What does Syria’s refugee crisis have in common with Chicago gun violence? The answer is Apathy. Whether it’s far away or in our backyard, the people of the free world are obligated to not look away or ignore the problem. I chose to illustrate Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy who drowned September 2015 as his family tried to reach Europe. Ironically, he died wearing the colors that stand for democracy. By linking him with words from the French philosopher Montesquieu, I hope to make people think about how their lack of interest may compromise their own freedom. Designer: Daniel Fain
Francis Bacon quote
Get out and be a part of this world. Open your eyes. Try something new. Explore. Learn. Enjoy it. Fear it. Exist. Designer: Scott Gundersen
Victor Hugo quote
A symbolic visual representation of how an idea can grow to be more powerful than all the armies in the world. Now is the time for ideas to be our first line of defense. Designer: Drew Larson
Anne Sophie Swetchine quote
This poster conveys a perspective on love, tolerance and acceptance. It demonstrates that the ability of one to love purely and deeply has the power to radiate outward, reaching, touching and influencing that same ability in all others. Designer: Kim Terzis


The response to the exhibition was fantastic! The Expo drew approximately 125,000 people over the course of three days (December 1–3, 2016). The ChiDM booth was consistently busy and offered a unique contrast to the mostly product/prototype-focused booths that surrounded it. Attendees commented on how powerful the work was. They found visually diverse, yet so well held together under a unified theme.


Select posters from the series will be featured at bus stops throughout the Chicago Loop in 2017, in partnership with the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. Find more detailed info on the work and purchase posters at