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Sunday, 08 February 2015 16:02

Michigan Design Council adds two West Michigan execs to board

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The newly created Michigan Design Council continues to recruit board members from key industrial design companies across the state, including bringing in more representatives from West Michigan-based firms.

At the time the Design Council was announced in mid-January at the North American International Auto Show, only two West Michigan representatives were among those chosen for board seats on the council. The group’s organizers told MiBiz for a story that ran Feb. 2 that they planned to reach out to more companies in the region to diversify the Design Council’s membership.

Since then, the Design Council added Tom Granzow, associate director of R&D for Stryker Corp.’s Innovation Processes division, along with Don Goeman, executive president at Zeeland-based Herman Miller Inc. Gary Smith, vice president of product design and exploration at Herman Miller, was selected as an alternate for Goeman.

The Design Council aims to promote Michigan’s industrial design prowess as a talent attraction effort, as well as help recruit more corporate R&D and design studios to the state.

The addition of West Michigan representation on the Design Council comes on the heels of what some local design professionals perceived as a lack of representation from the region’s key industries. Prior to Stryker and Herman Miller joining the council, only Benton-Harbor-based Whirlpool Corp. and Newell Rubbermaid Inc. – which operates a design center in Kalamazoo – represented West Michigan on the 12-member council.

“It was a surprise,” John Berry, the director of design thinking at Grand Valley State University and the former executive director of the 1,150-member Design West Michigan, told MiBiz in a previous report. “Part of me is very happy that there has been (a Design Council) established, but the other part of me is very disappointed that West Michigan wasn’t involved in concepting the evolution of, or appearing on the council.”

The Design Council continued seeking board members after its initial announcement, said Jeff DeBoer, owner and vice president of Sundberg-Ferar Inc., the Walled-Lake-based design firm heading up the council’s leadership.

The executives from Stryker and Herman Miller joined the council shortly after the initial MiBiz story went to print in late January, DeBoer said in an email.

“There may be a West Michigan perception that industrial designers on that side of the state are not being fairly represented compared to the those in Southeast Michigan. That is not the case,” DeBoer said in the email.

As a native of Kalamazoo, DeBoer believes the divide between the east and west sides of the state has hampered the industrial design community’s ability to “speak with one voice.”

“I hope that (the Michigan Design Council) takes up this issue and puts in place initiatives to build bridges across our state to strengthen our statewide design community and attract others,” DeBoer said.

Read 2910 times Last modified on Wednesday, 11 February 2015 11:13
John Wiegand

Staff writer

[email protected]

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