Design firm doubles space
A downtown design firm is growing and giving back in the process.
Conduit Studio in Grand Rapids said this month that it plans to double its studio space, at 80 Ottawa Ave. NW, by taking over a neighboring 1,800-square-foot space that includes a glassed conference room.
The space was formerly used by the real estate development firm 616 Development, which moved out about four months ago, said John O’Neill, founder, Conduit Studio.
O'Neill said Conduit Studio plans to use the expanded space as a place for artistic creativity and to play around with experimental output devices.
The space only needed minor paint renovations, and Conduit Studio is moving in this month.
“We realized as our scope of services have increased to meet our clients needs, we require a space where we can get our hands dirty and really dive into the work in a way our current space does not allow, “ O’Neill said.
Conduit Studio recently added Kelly O’Hara to its team as senior designer and is planning to hire a junior designer.
Anyone interested in the position should visit the firm’s website.
“We’ve controlled the growth of the company according to finding the appropriate talent,” O’Neill said. “Being a small studio, finding the right fit is very important.”
O’Neill founded the firm straight out of Kendall College of Art and Design, which he graduated from in 2002 with a B.F.A. in visual communications.
While there, he studied abroad in London, an experience that has shaped how his firm is giving back.
The scholarship is a $10,000 endowment, which is expected to grow and eventually support a student abroad for a full semester.
“The power of study outside one’s culture, environment and comfort zone can transform a student and make them alive to new ideas and keener to learn,” said David Rosen, former president, KCAD. “I really appreciate Conduit Studio for making this immensely powerful experience available to more KCAD students.”
O’Neill said his own experience in London taught him that sometimes the best way to retain talent locally is to offer them the experience of travelling globally.
“We’d like to let people know that West Michigan is a great place to work, but to understand that, you need to have left and seen the world,” O’Neill said.
“I think you can do great work anywhere, but the quality of life you can have here is pretty spectacular. The more I’ve been involved in the community, the more I see how the city is getting better. There’s a robust design team here. “