It may be the water; it may be the trees. It may be the convergence of the two that led to outstanding graphic design work in West Michigan, the midst of the Midwest.
Certainly forests with adjacent rivers proved hospitable for both the paper and furniture industries. Beyond that, a little bit of magic may have allowed companies like Upjohn and Herman Miller to emerge as regional and national leaders. Both were willing to cede to the vision of designers—of products and printed matter.
In the succeeding decades, influential Michigan industries invested in forward-thinking graphic design. They were supported by visionary educators at private and public colleges and universities, and by paper companies leading in paper engineering and production. Printers with a bent toward quality produced striking and memorable pieces.
The graphic designers working around 1960, when Commercial Art became Graphic Design, are now in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. The personal archives now at risk were the impetus for the West Michigan Graphic Design Archives, a place to gather, assess, and preserve this important part of the region's legacy.