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Muses on Creating Chicago’s Music Muse Room

By Stump Mahoney, executive producer, director of music, Chicago

The idea of a Music Muse room was initiated by Todd Tilford, Chicago’s EVP, Chief Creative Officer. He wanted a room that would inspire and inform the creative department on all things music. I ran with the theme of an indie record store/indie club that would not only hopefully inform and inspire, but also make the room a popular destination place… a place that was immediately comfortable, like a well-worn, oversized jacket.
The first thing that came to my mind was the aging couches that Lounge Ax, the Chicago indie rock club once had. So the entire muse room began around my memory of an old, beat-up, 4th hand couch. I walked around the office looking for that perfect, glorious couch and I found it in storage. From there I quickly grabbed an odd chair or two to pair with an old coffee table.
I wanted the walls to be a combination of “found art” and promotional band posters. For the posters I contacted several labels and they gladly sent many options. For the found art, I decided to create a series of Xerox pieces featuring authors who had inspired musicians. I grabbed images off the web to create one of William S. Burroughs, and a second of Jim Carroll.
For added measure, I put a cheap guitar of mine in the room — just because it needed one. The entire room is back lit, from the ground from behind the couch, with one incandescent light for mood.
A small budget was used to purchase a few shelves and a cheap rug. On the shelves went a bookshelf stereo system, books and DVD’s related to music, LP’s and 45’s, and a prerequisite Jinx Removing Candle. On the coffee table you’ll now find a variety of music magazines and an iPad. The iPad is connected to the bookshelf stereo system and has playlists with monthly updates of new record releases, links to music house sites, blogs, and Spotify. The wondrous iPad can also stream via airplay into Chicago’s adjacent “White Space” area if needed. For Record Store Day in April, I bring in my turntable and play vinyl throughout the day. On occasion we even have touring artists perform just outside the room .
As hoped, our Muse Room has become a comfortable space to hang and take a break. Our employees have the chance to get inspired and even add to the space. They are inspired, invited to innovatively think about things and create wonderful stuff. I am looking forward to recreating it in Chicago’s new office space in 2014.