Kalamazoo, MI – January 27, 2016 – Landscape Forms is North America’s premier designer and manufacturer of high-design site furniture and advanced LED lighting. As a design-driven company with deep roots in Western Michigan, it has a stake in the education of creative people prepared to assume meaningful roles in the regional economy. Today the company is pleased to report that through its financial support, expertise and advocacy it has played an important role in the formation of a new Department of Product Design & Innovation at Western Michigan University (WMU). Starting in September 2017 the Kalamazoo-based public research university with an enrollment of 24,000 students will offer a BFA degree in Product Design & Innovation through the new department housed in the College of Fine Arts.
The effort to bring a new WMU design department to reality was joined by a number of major design driven businesses in the area, including Landscape Forms, Stryker, Whirlpool, Eaton, FabriKal, Newell/Rubbermaid and Tekna, who recognized the need for design education to complement the University’s engineering programs. Landscape Forms President, Richard Heriford explains, “Business leaders rallied together and worked with WMU over a period of several years to get the new department off the ground. This is important for Landscape Forms because we are always looking for design thinkers and we believe that if you want to attract designers you need to create a vibrant design community that offers a place where they find others like themselves.”
The WMU Product Design & Innovation curriculum combines the disciplines of art, design, engineering and entrepreneurship. It is structured to provide what WMU calls “a new, cutting-edge industrial design education experience.” In addition to working with the schools of art and engineering, the program will align with the Haworth College of Business and will extend beyond the classroom as WMU educators collaborate with companies in strategic partnerships that offer students on-the-job training and real-world opportunities. Robb Smalldon, Landscape Forms VP of Studio 431, the company’s custom division, represented Landscape Forms among the business advocates for the design program and will continue to serve on the University’s Design Advisory Board. “The new Department of Product Design & Innovation will be a human capital pipeline for the region,” he says. “The business community asked for it, the University responded, and businesses will stay involved to help make sure it succeeds.”
About Landscape Forms
Landscape Forms is the industry leader in integrated collections of high-design site furniture and advanced LED lighting. Since its founding in 1969 Landscape Forms has earned a reputation for excellent design, high quality products and exceptional service. The Landscape Forms U.S. headquarters and manufacturing facility is located in Kalamazoo, Michigan with sales representatives throughout North America, South America, the United Kingdom, Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Asia. Landscape Forms collaborates with renowned industrial designers and consultancies, landscape architects, and architects to design and develop integrated collections of products that address emerging needs and help create a sense of place. Additionally, the company has formed global marketing partnerships with select companies that share its commitment to design. Landscape Forms has an installed base of products around the world. Clients include municipalities, transit centers, corporate, college and health care campuses, sites such as Orange County Great Park; and familiar brand leaders such as Boeing, Cisco Systems, Disney, Sprint, American Airlines, Herman Miller and Nike. The company was recently named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the Top 15 Small Workplaces in the US.