• 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…

  • Creative Endeavors

    Legacy in design

    Text: R.Collins  As a testament to easy-going summers and northern Michigan’s distinctive natural elements, Architect Ken Richmond, AIA, composed a modern-day wood cabin perched on one of Lake Michigan’s scenic bluffs for a family positioned in Chicago full-time. The three-story home was affectionately named Good Heart Lodge after its location in the Michigan town, Good Heart, and it connects the family to its roots as the third generation to make the area a vacation residence.   “It’s an extension of the old family compound,” Richmond said. “It’s on a really spectacular site, up [on the bluff] overlooking the world.”  Richmond’s full-service architectural and planning firm—Ken Richmond, Architect—also partnered with Scott…

  • Creative Endeavors

    Re-envisioning Benzie

    Text: Kyle Gandy The Benzie County Visitors Bureau, or CVB, specializing in tourism and hospitality marketing in northwestern Michigan off the coast of Lake Michigan is revitalizing their brand with the launch of Make it Benzie. With the help from Greenlight Marketing based in Traverse City, Michigan, the organization continues to work on redesigning their name, logo, photos, videos, and other multimedia to support their mission of drawing visitors to the area and communicating the experience of Benzie County.  To convey a story, whether through a logo or billboard, there is a level of intention and thought needed for the respected medium to accurately communicate the intended message to its…

  • Creative Endeavors

    Arbor reborn

    Text: R.Collins  In the early 2000s, when the invasive Emerald Ash Borer beetle sparked an epidemic in southeastern Michigan, many trees native to the region had to be cut down and replaced. Then, about five years ago, Jenny Barger, co-founder and director of sales and marketing at Live Edge Detroit, received a coffee table composed of ash wood and beautifully exposed Emerald Ash Borer etchings from her brother Joe Barger.  The table sparked a business idea that would bring a new supply of natural materials to Detroit’s do-it-yourself and sustainable design scenes, and shortly thereafter, Live Edge Detroit was born. With support from their father, Mike Barger, who is a…