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Sunday, 23 August 2015 22:52

Michigan Design Council plans launch of statewide design prize

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The organization that heads Michigan’s new industrial design promotion effort hopes to launch a statewide design competition loosely based on Grand Rapids-based ArtPrize.

If all goes as planned, the Michigan Design Council will host the first MPrize next year as a “statewide celebration of exceptional Michigan industrial design,” Jeff DeBoer, who heads up the Design Council, told MiBiz.

The Design Council, which is based in Detroit but incorporates partners from across Michigan, plans to attract teams of designers from a variety of industries and organizations to create a product-based solution to a large central problem. Participants in the the inaugural MPrize will be tasked with enhancing the enjoyment of Michigan’s freshwater resources, DeBoer said.

“It’s intentionally broad so that it would not only attract those in academia, professional designers and students but also everyday Michiganders,” DeBoer said. “We all rely on (the Great Lakes) and are affected by it. There could be massive product innovation capabilities developed around that topic.”

DeBoer also serves as the owner and vice president of Sundberg-Ferar Inc., the Walled Lake-based design firm the Michigan Economic Development Corp. contracted to launch the Design Council.

The Design Council is in the process of defining the scope of the competition as well as how it will be judged and funded. After the group finalizes the structure of the competition, the Design Council plans to officially announce the MPrize at the end of the year and coordinate its launch with the organization’s website, DeBoer said.


When the Design Council was first announced in January, it drew some criticism from West Michigan officials for not including much representation from West Michigan’s design-rich industrial sectors, as MiBiz previously reported.

Since then, the group has added more West Michigan professionals to its board, including representatives from Whirlpool Corp., Newell Rubbermaid Inc., Herman Miller Inc., Steelcase Inc. and Stryker Corp.

Now that the statewide membership has filled out, the Design Council has shifted its focus to creating a funding model that will keep it operational without the state’s help.

Sundberg-Ferar’s $200,000 contract with the MEDC to head the Design Council expires at the end of the year. After that, the Design Council and MEDC will either decide to renew the contract or determine that the organization is mature enough to stand on its own, DeBoer said.

According to DeBoer, the Design Council was never meant to require ongoing state-funding. Instead, the state provided the initial contract as seed money to get the fledgling organization up and running.

“Right now, our directive is to create a self-sustaining organization,” DeBoer said.

In conjunction with developing the MPrize, the Design Council has actively been fundraising and seeking sponsors. The group plans to have its initial round of funding secured by the end of 2015. The company also said it expected to file paperwork to become a 501(c)(3) nonprofit last week.

“First it was defining the initiative we could get behind and now it’s getting the background items in place,” DeBoer said.

Michigan Design Council Members

• Jeff DeBoer, chairman, Michigan Design Council
• Michelle Zurowick, communications manager, Michigan Design Council
• Kevin Kerrigan, senior vice president of the automotive office, Michigan Economic Development Corp.
• Ralph Gilles, senior vice president product design, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
• Nate Young, vice president of global innovation, Newell Rubbermaid Inc.
• Pat Schiavone, global vice president of design, Whirlpool Corp.
• Teckla Rhoads, executive director global industrial design, General Motors
• Gunalan Nadaraja, dean of the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art and Design
• Sooshin Choi, provost and vice president for academic affairs and professor of design, College for Creative Studies
• Susan Drescher, global HMI expert, Continental Corp.
• Tom Granzow, associate director of research and design for innovation processes, Stryker Corp.
• Don Goeman, executive vice president of research design and development, Herman Miller Inc.
• Gary Smith, vice president of product design and exploration, Herman Miller Inc.
• Curt Bailey, president, Sundberg-Ferar Inc. (Design consultancy representative)
• Jeevak Badve, vice president of strategic growth, Sundberg-Ferar (IDSA national committee member)
• James Ludwig, vice president of global corporate relations, Steelcase Inc.
• Jim Sawyer, provost and senior vice president of learning unit, Macomb Community College
• Matt Clayson, director, Detroit Creative Corridor Center
• Kyle Fleischhacker, manager of creative development and design, Plastipak Holdings Inc.

Read 5796 times Last modified on Sunday, 30 August 2015 22:39