Do you want to build something?

Maybe we can help.

Design Union is a Chicago-based collaborative design practice founded by husband/wife partners, Miguel and Lee Corrina Cano. Since 2001, we have been helping established companies and tentative entrepreneurs figure out what's next. In 2011, we designed and began manufacturing and selling our own consumer product, Stashcord, a tangle-proof headphone accessory. We are also the designers/owners of The Coffee Studio, an award-winning specialty coffee business in Chicago.

As consultants, we have found that all businesses with a goal benefit from some strategic fresh perspective. Even those clients who come to us with a huge amount of experience and expertise about their existing products/industry benefit through the discovery and transformation of other research (e.g category, competitive, lifestyle/trends, end-user research) into actionable fresh insights. 

By first investing in thoroughly understanding the primary company and brand goals, we make sure that the disciplined strategic and critical analysis at the heart of the project is responsive and actionable for our clients. We don't just make reports... we help our clients actually build things. Our decades of experience have given us a major appreciation for the variety and validity of real-world criteria and constraints, and we understand that if we don't get this thinking part right... even the most exciting ideas that we all come up with just won't make it through the pipeline to reality. 

Of course, the brainstorming, sketching and modeling of new beautiful, functional and enticing products is always a magical part of the process (just wait til you see the renderings!), the best part for our clients is that because we're experienced realists, we've been thinking about manufacturing/engineering processes, packaging concerns, costs, margins, and client profit goals at every point in the design process. We actually know what it's really like to try to finance, build, grow and sustain different kinds of businesses. Which is why we're passionate about working with clients and project partners like you who want to build something. So if you're ready... let's start working together to come up with some practical, compelling, desirable, and ultimately profitable designs and solutions that will make a difference. What can we help you build?

Fresh Perspective. Good Thinking. Useful Designs.

 Miguel and Lee Corrina Cano

Miguel and Lee Corrina Cano

About Miguel

Miguel Cano is the designer/partner/head honcho at Design Union, also the brains behind Stashcord, a tangle-proof headphone accessory, and owner/chief cappuccino taster of The Coffee Studio, an award-winning coffee shop located in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago.  Miguel holds a Masters Degree in Human Centered Product Design from the Institute of Design in Chicago and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from UIC. For fifteen years, Miguel has worked for clients developing products ranging from infant toys to hearing aids, including consumer electronics, medical products, and other consumer and commercial goods.

Miguel is just as comfortable in the corporate strategy room as on the prototype shop floor, and over the years has developed an unusually wide and deep skill set, excelling at high level strategy and communications issues (like developing effective frameworks to simplify/communicate complex issues or just keeping teams focused on the task at hand), to using the full product designers' toolkit to generate brainstorm sketches or beautiful renderings, and yet also has both the engineering and Ninja Master CAD designer skills to model an actual production part ready for manufacture.

With a keen eye to entrepreneurship, Miguel is always coming up with new business ideas, probably influenced by the experience of watching his own parents industriously build three unique, successful businesses during his youth. In addition to coming up with new schemes, Miguel loves riding bikes, drawing stuff, playing guitar, reading about lucid dreaming, and watching documentaries about ghosts. Together, Miguel and Lee have a 4-year old son, Max, a lovely source of inspiration for improved children's products and countless silly songs and stories.

About Lee

Lee Corrina Cano is designer/partner/critiquer at Design Union, chief prototype sewer at Stashcord, and the managing owner/bossypants of The Coffee Studio, a modern, award-winning coffee shop located in the Andersonville neighborhood of Chicago. Lee holds a Masters Degree in Design Planning, from the Institute of Design in Chicago, where her studies focused on discovering and analyzing strategic opportunities for new business products/services, and a Bachelor of Industrial Design Degree from Syracuse University. 

Lee began her career as a designer and analyst at General Motors’ advanced concepts studio focusing on environmentally responsible design/transportation issues, and later moved into a public policy position in which she represented the company on the Sustainable Mobility Project, a high-profile collaborative international project coordinated through the World Business Council for Sustainable Development.

More recently, Lee has been focused on how to (consistently) make a great cup of coffee, how to (consistently) give customers a great experience, and how to (consistently) make some money. That, and figuring out how to "have it all", while running a bunch of businesses, having a young son and trying to figure out "what it's all about". Lee likes biking with family, cooking, making stuff, reading about personal finance (and more recently, tax accounting!), planning stuff, goofing off at home, and rearranging all the furniture in the living room.