Constance Cooper | Ledger-News
Bill Grant, president and creative director of the Grant Design Collaborative, thumbs through one-of-a-kind note cards offered at The Store at Grant Collaborative. Grant is holding a note card series that features circus photographs taken in Germany in the early 1900s. He calls these cards “the antithesis of Hallmark …. Everything is made by hand and printed and folded by hand.”
What do they do up there, anyway?
Almost everybody in Canton knows of the Grant Design Collaborative, the company that occupies the second and third floors of the Galt Building on Marietta Street.
And nearly anyone active in civic life could tell you that Grant Design has done some impressive things for some big clients – things that make city officials feel lucky to have the company’s partners, Bill Grant and Jim Wilson, sitting on Canton’s Planning and Zoning Commission and Main Street Association.
However, few Cantonians, if pressed, could explain exactly what the firm does.
The Store at Grant Design Collaborative aims to change that.
“This is a way for us to be more approachable to the average Joe,” said Grant, the company’s president and creative director, who also acts as president of Canton’s Main Street Association. “This will be a casual way for us to introduce ourselves and show people what we’re doing.
Billed as a “retail stream of consciousness for cockeyed optimists” The Store at Grant Design Collaborative, located on the ground-floor level of the company’s headquarters, opened its doors on June 25 and is as diverse as the company that spawned it.
The Store is part testing facility – a place for the company to get retail feedback on its designs – part recycling center, a means for the designers to re-purpose leftover paper goods used in their projects – and part welcome wagon, a way to introduce local businesses the company and the services it offers.
“This store personifies a lot of that spirit that I have about design and being local and acting local in everything you do,” Grant said. “The market has been national and international so long. We see it going back local.”
Wilson, the company’s vice president of operations, said that he and Grant had been struggling to rent out the space The Store now occupies.
But it wasn’t long before these creative minds realized that the empty space presented an opportunity to make the company’s work tangible and bring it down to street level.
The variety of items in The Store reflect Grant Design Collaborative’s eclectic work – from the hand-pulled rugs the company has designed for the Indian rug company, Jaipur, to quirky, durable wall coverings that use the Grant Design Collaborative’s own patent-pending color system, to pottery crafted by Senior Designer Elizabeth Peterson to journals, notecards and other paper items made from materials leftover from design projects.
“We’ve always been vigilant about recycling,” Grant said. “But we wanted to take that one step further through the store.”
“So many materials come through our studio,” agreed Senior Designer Kurt Seidle. “As imaginative people, we like being able to come up with new uses (for those materials.)”
The antithesis of mass-market, all items in the store are handmade pieces that were designed by the Grant Design Collaborative. “Everything has the human touch,” Grant said.
All of The Store’s paper products and pottery are one-of-a-kind pieces.
And many of its rugs are one-offs – prototypes created for Jaipur that did not, ultimately, make it in into the company’s catalog.
As The Store grows, the Grant Design Collaborative, has plans to expand its offerings to include home goods, dishware and apparel.
Grant said the company will see what sells in The Store, and tailor its offerings accordingly.
But Grant Design plans to use sales data for more than just stocking the shop.
Grant describes The Store as “part shop, part design lab,” and will use customer feedback to help inform the Grant Design Collaborative’s corporate clients.
“We think of Canton as Main Street U.S.A.,” he said. “And we’re seeing what’s viable on Main Street U.S.A.”
Grant Design also is expanding the scope of its work through The Store.
The company had designed a number of interiors and furniture pieces for showrooms, trade shows and Grant and Wilson’s own home. The Store gives Grant Collaborative the opportunity to offer its catalog of furniture designs to the general public and to flex its formidable interior design muscles in Cherokee County homes.
“Everything we do for our clients now, we’ll be offering to the public,” Grant said.