Another Woman’s Treasure: Q&A with the Duo Behind INDO’s Extraordinary Recycled Designs
When Crystal Grover and Linsey Burritt of INDO create their window displays and art installations, they don’t go out and start buying new materials—instead, they look to save materials from the trash or recycling bin. Once, they called up a mannequin repair shop and requested hundreds of severed arms, which became part of an ethereal display celebrating the touch faucets of Delta & Brizo.
“That was, I’m sure, a once-in-a-lifetime request,” recalls Linsey.
Crystal and Linsey’s ability to transform recycled material into stunning, artistic displays has given them bigger chances to ply their trade, such as at Steppenwolf’s Merle Reskin Garage Theatre, where they lined a wall with enormous stacks of recycled paper to represent scripts. With an assortment of projects in the works, including decor for the Snap Gala at the Art Institute, INDO’s designs are popping up in more places around the city.
How did you get started doing window displays?
Crystal: We started in 2007 just as a side job. We started at Niche in Wicker Park, the shoe store…There was a really cool display, and it was inspiring…I went in and said, “Who does your windows, and who can do your windows?” And he said, “Anyone can.”
We put a pitch together, and we were very nervous, because we'd never done that before outside of work. And that was a really good experience.
Linsey: We also caught the store owner at a time when he had been using a different artist every time he did the window, and he really wanted to work with the same people. I think that spurred us into doing it more and more and more, because we had that commitment from him.
Why did you start working with salvaged materials?
Linsey: It came from how we do things in our personal lives. We're really resourceful, and we would look for used or discarded materials first and foremost. When we first started out, we actually created a relationship with Salvage One, allowing us to borrow their materials.
What are some of the coolest places you’ve done work for?
Crystal: The Steppenwolf Merle Reskin Garage Theatre. They're a huge Chicago company that's just been doing amazing things for so long, so that was really cool to be a part of.
And we had the ceiling installation at the Taste of Chicago Chef du Jour tent. That was cool to be a part of, because every year it's such a big event. Being featured with amazing chefs cooking food right below our installation like that was awesome.
Linsey: We were actually really lucky. We were able to attend one of the lunches, and we got to meet Stephanie Izard, so that was pretty cool.
How long do projects take you?
Crystal: It definitely varies for a lot of different reasons…But usually the creative process for a big project can take three weeks, and then it's usually about a three-month process…We have to fabricate and install onsite.
Linsey: The sourcing can take a lot of time…For the Steppenwolf project, we got really lucky and got all the paper donated to us. It was 10,000 pounds that they brought to us on a truck, in a forklift, in a huge gaylord. It took us three weeks just to sort through the paper.
Find anything weird in all that paper?
Crystal: You wouldn’t believe it.
How has working on bigger projects with more funding influenced how you work?
Linsey: We've gotten cleaner materials in the last year or so. There are a few agencies where we do site visits and see what material they have. Once, we got this stash of a thousand sheets of 3'x4’ thin plastic that is used in graphic houses. And that was a rare find for us, because we're used to using cardboard or paper, which are really abundant. So every once in a while, you do get a material that is practically new that we're just diverting from that recycling process.
Crystal: So really, it's allowed us to get cleaner used material instead of dumpster diving and making our friends save stuff for us.
How do you think being in Chicago has influenced the way you work?
Linsey: I haven't lived in other cities like New York or LA, but it seems as though Chicago is a little more close-knit––less competitive, more supportive, and that's something that is really nice to have.
Crystal: Over the past few years, we've talked about losing people to LA or New York because there's more industry there and more opportunity there. So I feel a constant thing that pops up in conversations with other artists is wanting to make Chicago stronger so that we can be just as strong as the coasts.
When she's not writing at Groupon, Rachel pillages her local library, plays board games, and cooks (but never, ever bakes).