• Creative Endeavors,  Featured

    Designing hope

    Behind the initial design process, is a purpose; and even desire in its truest form. It involves configuring objects and materials into solutions, which can result in potentially life-changing outcomes. When Lauren Liebler, an engineering and Computer Aided Design, or CAD, instructor at Petoskey High School in Petoskey, Michigan introduced a new project to her Career and Technical Education Drafting class in November, the goal was to achieve a previously unreachable solution to assist Stella Malpass, a six-year-old elementary student at Petoskey Sheridan Elementary, in her daily life. Born with Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, or AMC, which is a musculoskeletal disease affecting joint movement; Malpass experiences difficulties when dressing. After years…

  • Creative Endeavors,  Design,  Featured

    Screen solutions

    As a small family-owned distributor of Phantom Screens in Michigan and Indiana, Retractable Solutions, Inc., has provided the Midwest with the comprehensive Phantom Screen product line for more than 20 years. Retractable Solutions has partnered with Phantom Screens since 1992 and both firms strive to develop product lines and installation techniques satisfying a variety of customer needs.  One of the newest products in their portfolio, the Phantom XL Retractable Screen, is a solution for oversized openings, multi-paneled door systems, and folding glass door systems. The product and its options for installation combine modern technologies with the classic customer care and cultivated expertise that Retractable Solutions has provided since its inception…

  • Creative Endeavors

    Mediterranean air

    Text: R. Collins  When designing the interior for a new Byron Center, Michigan home—which would be featured in the Home Builders Association of Greater West Michigan’s annual parade—Julie Wynalda, founder of True Vine Creations in Hudsonville, Michigan, looked no further than the Mediterranean aesthetics of the homeowner’s childhood living spaces in Israel and her design firm’s own principles.  “My style is literally rooted in my love for nature,” Wynalda said. “Somehow that environment opens my thoughts and ideas. I tend to really enjoy neutrals on neutrals and then adding layers of texture rather than color.” True Vine Creations is a West Michigan-based commercial and retail interior design solutions company also…

  • Creative Endeavors

    Tactile language

    In the 1990s, Founder and Artistic Director Iris Wang noticed sunlight through a cascade of maple leaves outside of her kitchen window, which doubled as her studio at the time for the humble warehouse operations of Brentano Inc. It would serve as the catalyst for the small company as Wang then blended a painted Japanese-inspired maple leaf with a series of sketched horizontal lines derived from bamboo shades—putting Brentano in the black and well on its way to becoming the international textile house and fabric source that it has become today.  “In the past there were a lot of fabrics that were only pretty to look at, but you couldn’t…

  • Creative Endeavors

    Prospective learning environments

    Text: R. Collins  As technology and modern knowledge become intensely packed into our personal spheres, grade schools and collegiate institutes—the spaces we tend to rely on to make sense of it all—carry an immeasurable importance in the present and future of learning. Whereas in the mid-twentieth century teaching practices promoted linear, regimented teaching styles, which popularized images of front-facing desks bolted to the ground, school design now must cater to the ways in which different types of students absorb and interpret information, explained Peter Baldwin, AIA, NCARB, president and principal at AMDG Architects in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  With a diverse educational design portfolio featuring projects in West Michigan school systems—such…

  • Creative Endeavors,  Travel

    Art on theMART

    By: R. Collins On September 29, 2018, theMART, formerly known as The Merchandise Mart, will host a series of curated digital artworks projected across nearly 2.5 acres of its exterior riverside façade after dusk around 7:15 p.m., launching an inaugural program known as Art on theMART.  The inaugural exhibition will showcase the works of renowned artists Diana Thater, Zheng Chongbin, Jason Salavon, and Jan Tichy; exploring genres and subject matter while using the digital model as a springboard for visual arts in the 21st Century. The artists were selected and commissioned by Art on theMART in consultation with a curatorial advisory board shaped by theMART and the City’s Department of…

  • Creative Endeavors

    Crafted pairing

    Text: R.Collins  For years, craft food and spirits enthusiasts have learned to expect quality, care, and tightly-packed flavor from Detroit, Michigan-area natives Valentine Distilling Company and McClure’s Pickles. Last week on Aug. 7, 2018, the pair announced a collaboration to renew the 2017’s well-received Bloody Mary Mix Kit, in-step with tailgate season.  The Kit—being released for distribution in late September 2018—includes a fifth of Valentine vodka and McClure’s classic Bloody Mary Mix along with two glasses, for $29.99. Rifino Valentine, founder of Valentine Distilling Company, said the kit is a testament to Michigan’s lively and growing collective of craft liquor and food products. “When we started there wasn’t much on…

  • Creative Endeavors

    Park project

    Text: Kyle Gandy The Grand Rapids Department of Parks and Recreation, located at 201 Market Ave. SW, is a perennial division of city government responsible for the myriad of parks meticulously woven into the urban metropolis of the city. Their latest project is a $250,000 reconstruction and modernization of Coit Park, which is tucked away in the northeastern region of the city neighboring the Medical Mile and the Belknap lookout.  This particular project is a part of a comprehensive revitalization strategy, which began in 2013 following a park agreement that was passed to bring $28 million to all 74 parks in the city. Coit Park’s upgrades comprise an improved playground,…

  • Creative Endeavors

    SmithGroup designs its future

    Text: R. Collins SmithGroup, a 165-year-old integrated design group formerly known as SmithGroupJJR, announced this week Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2018 it has realigned the firm’s vision to design a better future. The vehicles of the rebranding initiative comprise a simplified name, the introduction of a stylish and efficient new website, and four key goals designed to catalyze the success of its new mission.  “Today we commence the greatest journey our firm has yet undertaken. Our promise is to Design A Better Future for ourselves, for our clients, for our communities, and for the world,” said Mike Medici, president and managing partner at SmithGroup, in the press release. SmithGroup’s four key…