Design Of The Times

December 17, 2007
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If you role-play Steelcase President and CEO James Hackett, the news provides reason to continue on track with an aggressive forecast for sales and revenue; if you role-play Herman Miller’s Brian Walker, it’s an invitation to continue to build reserves and save the champagne.

As economic forecasts by regional analysts were broadcast last week, the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth reported the five-county West Michigan region (Kent, Allegan, Ottawa, Oceana and Muskegon) added 8,100 private payroll jobs last year. In contrast, the rest of the state lost private-sector jobs in 2006. (See story on page B5.)

Still, that may not be sexy enough for the “water cooler news,” but consider this to add to your holiday party trivia:

Pamella DeVos, doing business as pamella roland, has a new relationship … with high-end women’s designer David Rodriguez (yes, that’s big). Rodriguez opened his New York fashion house in 1998, specializing in wildly appreciated, sophisticated sportswear and day suiting, available at Saks Fifth Avenue. Considered one of fashion’s “hot, young guns,” his media exposure has been almost as good as that given any of Hollywood’s current young brats.

DeVos signed a consulting arrangement with Rodiguez last month, providing design services related to pamella roland’s Fall 2008 collection. That line hits the New York runways in February next year (book now).

DeVos seems to be hitting milestones this year. No fewer than five actresses attended the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles in September wearing pamella roland gowns. Getting ink in the fashion press is significant given the fickle nature of the stars upon whose backs the designer’s fame is pinned. Patricia Arquette (“Medium”), Joely Fisher (“Til Death”), Jane Krakowski (“30 Rock”), Lisa Edelstein (“House”) and Eva Larue (“CSI Miami”) all picked the DeVos line, but at Emmy party time the list grew to include Brenda Strong (“Desperate Housewives”).

September’s white-tie party for the opening of the Grand Rapids Art Museum also offered opportunity for show-and-tell. DeVos dressed her mother-in-law, Helen DeVos, sisters-in-law Betsy DeVos, Maria DeVos and Cheri VanderWeide, and Char Vander Laan, Brenda Thompson, daughter Cassandra DeVos and Sydney DeVos, Neva Johnson and Stacey Watt.

**New York also has been good to Lowell native Daniel Vosovic, formerly known as one of the most popular designers featured in the Emmy-winning reality show “Project Runway” over a two-season stretch (with 25 million viewers). You may have read of Vosovic’s newest assignment in sister publication Grand Rapids Magazine (October 2007) to design a 20-piece collection for employees of a new hotel group, NYLO Hotels. The group first opens its trendy North Dallas location Dec. 18, and will offer patrons the clothing line in its hotel boutique shops. (Also available online at

The 23-year-old also is working as a freelance design talent for New York fashion houses and is a known fashion blogger. One wonders how he had time to design his sister’s (fall) wedding dress featuring minute details of pearls and lace.

  • Back to the real world? MedcomSoft Inc., an Atlanta-based provider of next-generation interoperable electronic health records, announced that James Haveman has joined its health care advisory board. (That’s likely to have hometown ramifications.)

The Calvin College graduate is the former director of the Michigan Department of Public Health and Michigan Department of Mental Health, appointed from a similar post for Kent County by former Gov. John Engler. Haveman consolidated several health care functions in 1996, drawing considerable political fire from across the state until 2003. All of which prepared him when President George W. Bush appointed him senior advisor for health to the Ministry of Health in Iraq, where he oversaw reconstruction of the health care system. Haveman also served as deputy to the director of civil affairs in the Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority.

  • Sexy and worldly: Dubai has captured the attention of travelers with its gleaming, jaw-dropping, architecturally “impossible” developments in the desert. So, did World Affairs Council of West Michigan Executive Director Dixie Anderson take note of this while part of an American World Affairs Councils delegation of 10 to Saudi Arabia?

“We were in Saudi Aramco,” (that’s where all the oil and gas come from, kids), “and we actually stayed in the Gulf Palace, the King’s residence, when in that part of Saudi Arabia, a guest house.”

Anderson said the trip was surprising and eye-opening for the wish of her hosts to forge and continue relationships and investments in the United States. Tell Jeanne Englehart: The chambers of commerce “are powerful business groups in Saudi. (They) consider themselves long-time and good friends of the United States and cannot understand the cold shoulder we have given to them since 9-11 … they regard the highjackers as young people recruited by Osama Bin Laden to specifically embarrass the kingdom” from which Bin Laden was exiled.

  • For the eighth consecutive year, Rockford Construction employees and family members will hold a food drive at the Martin Luther King Jr. Leadership Academy at 419 Henry St. SE. It takes place on Wednesday beginning at 5 a.m., when food will be loaded onto trucks at Forest Hills Food and delivered to the school’s gym where “care packages” will be made. Some of those packages will be delivered to homes near the school. Others can be picked up at the gym.

  • Laying down the law: For the 27th year, the Hillman Advocacy Program will help young attorneys sharpen their advocacy skills in an on-the-job training opportunity in January. Three days of intensive training will be held for up to 60 young lawyers Jan. 23-25 in the Federal Court for the Western District of Michigan. Under the guidance of experienced litigators, participants in the Hillman program will have the chance to improve their presentation and advocacy skills.

During the seminar, attorneys will have the chance to study techniques of effective communication, the fine points of direct cross examination, the strategy of jury selection and other communication issues helpful to attorneys.

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