Thinkbox Creative brings modern sensibility to historic spot as latest Widdicomb Building tenant

Grand Rapids design and branding agency Thinkbox Creative is the most recent addition to the roster of tech-driven companies making the renovated historic John Widdicomb building at 601 Fifth St. its new home. 

"We were looking for a space close to downtown and also nice and accessible for our clients and the Widdicomb building presented an opportunity to do a 100 percent build out with Copper Rock Construction, so we could really think about how our team works and how we work best with our clients and design a space around how our business flows and how we work," says Travis Fahlen, partner of Thinkbox Creative.

The 15-person team moved into Widdicomb's 3,700-square-foot Suite 301 during the first week of November, designing the space to serve two main purposes – a private team meeting space for phone calls and strategizing, and a second more open, collaborative space to meet with clients and brainstorm. 

"It's a client-centric move," Fahlen says. "For our clients, we wanted to build a place where our team can be creative and successful and focus on building great work. When we have multiple clients here at the same time, we have private space to hold meetings and conference calls and then we also have a space where our team can communicate and continue to do their jobs."

A decade ago, former owner and furniture retailer Bob Israels invested around $11 million to convert the 65,000-square-foot building into a high-end showroom, but later defaulted to Fifth Third Bank. Energetix Properties invested $1.5 million in converting the showroom to commercial office space after purchased the mid-19th century building for $1.7 million last year. 

Fahlen says Thinkbox loved the design options presented by the Widdicomb Building, which, with elements of its historic designs still intact, allowed the design team to marry their modern sensibility with the more ornate aesthetic of the old building.

"The Widdicomb Building on the West Side, it has a lot of history it has a lot of character, so we wanted to take those elements and use them," he says. "We're a design agency, so we could design our colors, our floor plan and our layout using the historic, cool elements already in the building and add our modern feel right around them."

He says Thinkbox is excited to be a member of the West Side business community, who, from their perspective, share a blue-collar mentality that creates an atmosphere of a no-nonsense, hard work ethic the creative design firm can rally behind.  

"The vibe on the West Side is a key piece," Fahlen says. "There are a lot of creators here, there's a lot of technology. There are a lot of people here who want to work hard and get the job done and sort of this blue-collar mentality, which is also our mentality as a company. As we researched the other things around here, we thought we fit in really well with the other companies and the mentality of the West Side, as well."

Written by Anya Zentmeyer, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Thinkbox Creative

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