It was a beautiful dream, it lasted all of the evening. Music crawling all across my ears - play on, play it.- JrJr, Beautiful Dream
There's an unknowable element to what we do. We can prep the ground and sew the seeds, but we never fully know how people will interact with the space we create. Michigan House //Austin 2015 taught that while not knowing can be a scary - that is where the magic lives.
The idea was born on a plane returning to Michigan from SXSW 2014. Jamie Kirby happened to be seated next to Joe Vos of Creative Many Michigan, and they both wondered allowed about the possibility of Michigan based hub at the festival. Twelve months and infinite meetings later, their airplane small talk became a reality and Michigan House was born.
12 Michigan companies and organizations got behind the idea, and we set to create a home away from home for Michiganders at the festival. A 24' Penske Truck was rented, filled with Michigan Made goods, food, and drink, and driven the 1300 miles to Austin, TX. Waiting for us was a three bedroom home that needed to be emptied and reimagined as a cultural embassy to the Great Lakes State. We had less than 24 hours to make the switch.
Somehow it happened and for four days the House staged programming ranging from live music recording to panel discussions to the best darn backyard lawn party you’ve ever seen. Decked out in the finest in Michigan Made furniture, art, and design, it hosted 500 guests, 17 bands, 13 programming sessions, 8 meals, 2 concerts and 2 very friendly visits from the Austin Police Department. In total 59 sponsors got to tell their unique Michigan story both to those present and in the 24 media features and 14,000 social media interactions.
Looking back, though, I always return to a moment on Day 1 while the Detroit band JrJr played their only SXSW set in the houses backyard. A threatening thunderstorm had held off, the yard was full of interesting people from around the world, and the band sounded incredible despite three delayed flights and a "hotel" fiasco. The reality of everything that had needed to come together to get us to this point hit us all at the same time. We each exchanged glances from our different posts around the yard and simply shrugged with smiles. This was beyond us. This was a dream. This needed to happen again.
(All Photos by Shutter Sam Photography)