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GoSiteThe Grand Rapids GOSite recently opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony and public celebration. Conceived as a modern take on a welcome center, it will be the new go-to hub for Grand Rapids area visitors and locals alike. We designed the space on behalf of Steelcase, as part of their ongoing support of our community. Many other community partners contributed, as well.
There was an unusual requirement for this. The challenge was to create an experience that is in character of an Art Museum. This space is nestled into the wings of the Grand Rapids Art Museum. Not a problem. We had a lot of fun getting the design to feel “just right”  — an engaging, well-designed, modern traveler’s oasis.
The space is a collection of interactive displays, comfortable lounge settings, charging stations, and a ton of great content from partners, all hosted by a charming GOSite Ambassador. It’s a perfect rendezvous spot for meeting up with friends to decide what the night will bring or regrouping with family during a day downtown. It is smack dab in the middle of all of the action. With the GOSite you can track down the hot events in GR, discover a new restaurant, or find out about a cool gallery opening. Locals, give it a try – maybe you will discover something new about your home town.

TEDMED_2014_fltSince my last post we have been busy designers! This year my involvement with TEDMED has been an expanded one. I am charged with both the overall experience design and the creative direction of this year’s event. It’s just a few short days away from becoming a reality. It gets a little trickier too. Besides my new role, which has been a blast, TEDMED is being hosted at two venues simultaneously. We jumped right in.

Our goal of creating a remarkable experience at each venue is on-track, but it has not been without creative and strategic challenges. Consider the two venues, The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco and The Kennedy Center in Washington DC. Both are amazing places. Truly landmarks. The Palace of Fine Arts was created for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition and has been nicely cared for and renovated in the past century. It is a grand facility. The Kennedy Center is an iconic structure housing multiple stages, halls, and performance venues. Also grand, but as a building designed in the late 1960’s it has a markedly different personality. Why two different locations at the same time? Both areas are hubs for medical research, innovations, leadership, policy, and funding. The live interaction between the two stages will be truly inspirational.

But you can see the challenge. How do we design two entirely different spaces to interact with each other and share content seamlessly, all while ensuring the right experiences are occurring at each locale? We also put high value on conversations and connections away from the shared content. We had to intentionally design for those experiences as well. In the end, we had to determine what needed to be closely replicated at each location and where we would let each venue’s personality nuances shine uniquely.

The additional challenges of these two spaces added complexity to our solutions but it will be a truly unique experience that was definitely worth the effort. It came together. We are counting down the days until we share this with the world.

Check out the website: http://www.tedmed.com/event/abouttheevent

Learn about The Palace of Fine Arts and The Kennedy Center: http://www.palaceoffinearts.org/Welcome.html or http://www.kennedy-center.org/index.cfm

 

“John F. Kennedy Center (7645507542)” by http://www.GlynLowe.com from Hamburg, Germany – John F. Kennedy Center

TCondon_Airport_fltJust a bit of hospitality to welcome visitors to our home city. TCondon partnered with Steelcase, Experience Grand Rapids, and the Gerald R Ford International Airport to create a small welcome center for those arriving at the airport. This space has a concierge, info boards, ipads, charging stations, and some nice seating options for anyone looking to relax, recharge, and discover Grand Rapids. It was a true design challenge to pack a lot of usefulness into a pretty small footprint, but it is a very functional little space.
It was nice to work with Steelcase, who donated the furniture, in contributing to our community.
Check it out next time you are coming in to town!

Pantone_Color of the yearAs a designer, I live and breathe color. You know what I mean. I have to make color decisions every day as we design breathtaking client environments! And, even though I have a color “palette” that speaks to me personally —  in the clothes I wear, the colors I paint with, the pieces I may select for a room in our house — I have to park those biases when I consider the spaces we design. What I personally like may not be the right solution for our clients. I consider the mood and attitude of the space, the purpose of  the space, the desired energy we are tasked to create. There is color psychology around that. Plus, we are constantly investigating color trends, and how any of those colors may harmonize with, or complement, the choices we are making around the product color and material options that will be in the spaces we are creating.
Pantone, which has been an industry-leading color resource for designers, has been digging into color trends for a little while now. I enjoy seeing their take on future color thinking, and their pick for 2014 came off a bit polarizing. I have seen reactions from “sweet!” to “really, Pantone?”. It is a purplish tint they named Radiant Orchid, and they describe it as a harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink, and claim it “emanates great joy, love, and health.”
My take? It’s all about context. Am I a fan of that color on its own merits? Not necessarily. But, I don’t think about color that way. Could we use it in a space we are designing as part of our holistic color solution? Absolutely. The entire mix is key to supporting desired behaviors and the intent of the space. If the strategic “feel” of the environment calls for a color like this, it’s part of the solution, whether or not I would pick it out as a sweater.
In case you are wondering, yes, I do own a sweater with some stripes very close to this color. I picked it up last year and I love it. Is Pantone tracking my color preferences? Well, I have a hunch that a range of medium blues will be trending upwards  — let’s find out next year!

Wood TV begins shooting from their temporary studio at the Grand Rapids Art Museum for Art Prize. We designed their new set using Steelcase products to create a close connection to the action of Art Prize – a huge event for Grand Rapids. Artists from around the world compete for the top prize of $250,000. Wood TV will be in the heart of the action, with live interviews and camera shots that will capture the excitement and energy of this great event. Plus, they will be enjoying the new set and some of the best products from Steelcase.

Go see it on Wood TV