Tenants of the Chase building in downtown Grand Rapids approached Via Design for a renovation to their commercial lobby space. Wanting a modern revival to the design consistent with the classic building, the client requested new furniture, carpet, and artwork. Interior designer Emily VanderLaan took on the project, finding inspiration from Pinterest images centering around cubism, modern office design, and the color red.
"We needed something unique, sophisticated, and urban," says Emily. Located across the street from Calder Plaza, the Chase building sits in the epicenter of Grand Rapids, where many of the city's seasonal festivals and events are held.
Emily’s research inspired her to collaborate with Matt Maher, product designer and artist, to design a three-dimensional piece of art that would hang on the wall facing Ottawa Street. Matt designed what would become a wall sculpture, and enlisted the help of Via's craftsman, Garett Miles, and David Tuck of Tuck Studio. The two teams often produce one of a kind furniture pieces and custom finishes for many of our projects, but have had yet to construct this type of art.
The process to build was similar to how one would create a surfboard: using layers of foam and fiberglass. After several layers, the team had constructed a light, but durable wall. To create the cubism design, the sculpture was made up of 127 pieces; each piece was sanded, reinforced with fiberglass, and bonded with epoxy before it could be painted. However, choosing which color the sculpture needed to be was challenging.
"It was important to choose the perfect shade, and we didn't want it to be dull and moody. It had to be punchy," says Emily. Given the location of the building, the answer became obvious.
It had to be Calder red.
The process for finding a match to the Calder's unique red-orange matte wasn't simple. David Tuck brought paints and additives to Calder Plaza to compare shades until he found the right formula.
The entire sculpture took the space of both studios, and couldn't be fully constructed until it was at the site. There were a few anxious moments, but the team was confident it would all come together.
“Seeing the risk pay off was rewarding,” says Emily.
The 9ft x 11ft sculpture hangs facing Ottawa Street weighing no more than 80 pounds. New lounge settees and a coffee table have helped to complete the artistic vignette.