Truckloads of Michigan Products Will Make SXSW Home- MLive
March 10, 2015
Two trucks will hit the road this week for Austin filled with Michigan favorites: cases of Founders beer, bottles of L.Mawby wine, Eames chairs and Detroit Wallace guitars.More than a dozen Michigan-made products are headed to the South by Southwest (SXSW) music, film and interactive conference where they will occupy the first Creative Many Michigan House, which will host mixers, performances and panel discussions over four days, March 16-19.
“We think we are going to do a pretty good job of showing off the cool things in Michigan,” said Joe Voss, a Grand Rapids entertainment attorney who launched the idea of renting a three-bedroom home in East Austin to showcase the state’s talent, technology and products.
The project has the backing of a collection of Michigan organizations including Detroit billionaire Dan Gilbert’s Opportunity Detroit and Grand Rapids social entrepreneur Rick DeVos’ ArtPrize and StartGarden.
“A world-renowned confluence of talented people, innovative companies and emerging ideas, the SXSW is a really effective cross-media platform to reach the entire creative community, and the Michigan House at SXSW is a great vehicle to achieve that end,” said Christian Gaines, executive director of ArtPrize.
The collection of Michigan-Made furniture, art and design is being curated by Middle West, made up of co-creator Ted Velie, designer Peter Jacob and event planner Jamie Kirby. The trio opened a two-day Grand Rapids pop-up store in September that drew 2,000 people and sold $10,000 of Michigan-made products, much of created by artists or small businesses.
“The creative electricity that we see everyday needs to be on display on a stage like SXSW,” said Globe Vise and Truck owner Velie. “We’ve put on pop-up events around the state in hopes of letting people know the great things being made all around them. It’s time to take that message national.”
CWD Real Estate Investment, one of Grand Rapids’ largest commercial developers, signed on as sponsor even though there may not be any direct benefit for the company.
Managing Partner Sam Cummings, who has never been to SXSW, said he immediately agreed to contribute the $5,000 sponsorship fee because ArtPrize’s Gaines was asking.
Gaines made it clear the project is something of an experiment, but that is fine with Cummings.
“When it comes to things about promoting the city and the state, it’s something we get excited about around here,” Cummings said.