Ted Velie

Peopledesign at 20

Ted Velie
Peopledesign at 20
 All photos by  Paige Gabert

All photos by Paige Gabert

Milestones are what we make of them. A birthday, an anniversary, a memorial - they matter because of the reflection we put into them. Because of the path forward they make us see. When Peopledesign, a Grand Rapids based design consultancy, approached us about helping them commemorate their 20th year in business - we knew the challenge would be allowing the event to be the kind of thoughtful reflection their 20 years of accumulated accomplishments deserved. 

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See Peopledesign, in their quiet, thoughtful way, are kind of bad-asses. The last 20 years have seen them work with companies like Apple, Haworth, Herman Miller, Interface, Georgia-Pacific, and Amway, creating work that's been internationally hailed and praised. The years have also seen them shift, grow, and innovate as a company - always staying fresh and one step ahead.

Getting to work with a client like them is something of honor, but it's also a bit daunting. They've set a standard over the last 20 years of work, and there's just no way a 3-hour party at their office on a Wednesday afternoon is going to live up to all that. Realizing that, though, became the key to the entire eventing. That was the moment we realized they wanted something lighter, something more casual. It needed to be a pause for reflection and thanks, while avoiding bogs of nostalgia. 


We concentrated on what the experience should feel like to each guest as they stopped in after work, and we decided to error on "easy" and "welcoming". We built color into the space design, the food design, and our own (slick AF) uniforms to give a touch of airy whimsy to the atmosphere. We turned a conference room with a lobby facing window into a prep kitchen where attendees could see "process" and "detail" in action, and we kept the food coming in waves of innovative change (designed by Tall Chef and did you try the BLT waffles?!?). We created way finding color pathways and a street-level architectural piece to help guests navigate the entryway, and then we welcomed them to party with a rosé spritzer that put your work day behind you.


From there guests moved into the place where the work actually gets done. They saw the art and books that inspire them. They got to stroll down memory lane some while flicking through the  "Artifacts" collection that Peopledesign put together from the last twenty years. Conversation flowed, music played, canned beer/wine were consumed, and the food kept springing from the kitchen..er conference room.


The evening was punctuated by short toast given by Co-Owner of Peopledesign Kevin Budelmann. He took a few moments to look back at where they had been and to thank those that had been there along the way, and then he quickly shifted to the excitement he felt about where they were headed next. It was an apt salute to Peopledesign's 20 years of development and change, and it felt perfect on a night that was much more about celebrating possibility than commemorating the past.  

(Check the 1997-2017 playlist if you're looking for more vibes: https://open.spotify.com/user/tvelie/playlist/5YZie1W7KiAhQtkmTkD9jy)