Even though our Midwestern hearts haven’t quite thawed yet, springtime is right around the corner. For too many long, cold months, IDEO Chicago’s Weber Original Kettle grill—that icon of carefree springtime afternoons and a beloved local brand—has been collecting cobwebs in the corner. We thought: What better way to welcome spring than to bust out our beloved grill and transform it into a tricked-out studio wet bar? And just in time. With the start of spring comes everyone's favorite excuse to drink with coworkers: St. Patrick’s Day. (Chicagoans are particularly notorious for celebrating the holiday in style, from our rowdy St. Paddy's Parade to literally dyeing the Chicago River green.)
The boozy makeover started with the lid. We wanted opening the bar to be one-handed and easy, and have some dramatic flair, so we added a gas-spring hinge to connect the lid and kettle. Figuring out where and how to attach the hinge, then drilling out a slot, ended up being the hardest and most time-consuming part of the build. Go figure.
Once the gas spring was in, we designed a cooking grate—laser cut out of acrylic and spray painted silver—to accommodate six hand-lettered liquor bottles.
Next, we added a Bluetooth speaker to the inside of the lid for what we called the “Complete Party Effect,” and a push-push latch to make opening and shutting the grill seamless. A few holes in the leg of the grill and—boom!—we had cord management.
We thought we were finished when Chris Gold, mechanical engineer extraordinaire, walked into the Shop. “How can you have a grill wet-bar thingy without glowing embers?” Good point. Ten minutes, a strip of LEDs, and some quick coding later, Chris had made a modern fire. We crinkled some paper to diffuse the lights and give it some texture and we put it under the bottom grate. Embers: check.
But a grill isn’t real grill until it is loved. So this year, we’ll be throwing one hell of a St. Paddy’s Day Happy Hour by queuing up a good Irish jig and giving Webby a proper welcome to the IDEO Chicago family.
Video by Sophie Feng
Special thanks to Annette Ferrara, Party Designer in Chief, for the idea!
The Shop Apprentice for IDEO Chicago, Jamie McCoy is a maker and doer who loves thinking with her head and her hands. A dedicated craftsperson with an insatiable curiosity about human behavior, she finds satisfaction in turning ideas into reality.
A Hollywood special-effects model maker turned Senior Prototype Designer, John holds an honorary degree from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for his near-magical skills transfiguring foam core.