NOWhaus at Strategy Conference featured in Chicago Tribune Blue Sky Innovation

At the IIT Institute of Design Strategy Conference Hank Garrett applied design ideas to life experiences. His lessons learned were featured in Chicago Tribune Blue Sky Innovation in an article from reporter Cheryl V. Jackson.

“The Chicago dog embodies good Gestalt – form meets function meets beauty meets processed meat. The Gestalt principles of design match perfectly to the Chicago-style hot dog.”

–Hank Garrett

Garrett made his presentation during a lunchtime session at the two-day conference on Thursday. His was one of six IIT Institute of Design student presentations, whose topics included running marathons, keeping quiet, and building a guitar amplifier. The session featured presentations from IIT Institute of Design's NOWhaus, a regular design-student activity that uses a format known as PechaKucha, in which presenters show and discuss 20 slides for a maximum of 20 seconds per slide.

While eating a Chicago-style hot dog, Garrett  shared “Design Lessons From a Hot Dog.”

Respect for the classics

“The same basic formula has worked through boom and bust,” he said. Give the people want they want – but within reason, he said.


“Every element plays an essential role in the composition without any need for add-ons or substitutions,” he said. “Any more would be too much. Any less would be incomplete.”

Contrast and balance

“The components of a Chicago dog are a study in contrast … a crisp pickle, a soft bun. Sweet relish, sharp mustard. Spicy relish and cool tomatoes,” he said. “But, despite these contrasts, the dog, as a whole, strikes an equilibrium.”

Embrace the competition

“Just because a space is crowded doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more,” Garrett said. “Its wealth of options doesn’t diminish the fact that we are a sausage city.”

It doesn’t have to be pretty

“How it looks isn’t as important as how they taste,” he said. “Chicago dogs always taste far better than how they look. Although the appeal of aesthetics is undeniable, don’t let the looks get in the way of how well it can do the job.”

Design according to use

“This is designed with a use case in mind … on the go, in the crowd,” he said. “There’s a reason so many hot dog stands don’t have seats. It’s because you don’t need them. The Chicago dog is designed to keep up with you.”

Consistency is key

“Across Chicagoland, from the northern ‘burbs to the Indiana border, you can always count on a Chicago dog,” he said. “You can bank on a consistent experience.”

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Hank Garrett