I had long admired Tad Carpenter & The Carpenter Collective's work on Instagram.... But I didn't really know anything about Kansas City (Hell, I didn't even know it wasn't in Kansas!). The Design Kids sent me to KC (Thank you!) for Made in The Middle and I went in completely blind. Oh, what a surprise was I in for!
Upon my arrival, I was greeted by the warmth (literally and figuratively) of the Midwest at their opening party. Everybody seemed to know each other, but they were so welcoming to this stranger who wandered the three floors of the beautiful Messenger Coffee Co in awe of the amazing work showcased at the bazaar of local creatives. I couldn't help but feel this experience was off to a great start.
Saturday morning, on time. I arrived at the gorgeous Nelson Atkins Museum and its seemingly infinite gardens ready for taking it all in. While digging through the goodie bag at registration, I couldn't help but notice that this was no ordinary conference. Everything here was crafted with the utmost care, from the hand-stitched program to the beautifully packaged collection of art prints made by speakers and collaborators. But it was the impressive opening video what set the tone for the rest of the day. Celebrating textures, tactile experiences and "happy accidents". No shame, I got chills from it.
Amber Goodvin exposed me to what might be my dream job (Lettering Artist for Hallmark Cards) and pushed us to experiment until we find our (design) voices.
Firebelly's Dawn Hancock drove the point home on assembling a team that gives *truly" gives a damn to do the work your community needs.
Legendary Herman Miller designer Steven Frykolm insisted on disrupting the status quo no matter how seemingly boring/small the task at hand is. Find non-glamourous opportunities to make glamorous work!
Mina Markham inspired us to just say "Yes", you never know what it can do for your career! (It opened the doors to create the now famous design system for Hillary Clinton's campaign website)
Andy J Miller (AKA Andy J Pizza) drove us through an emotional roller coaster of gorgeous work that I, unfortunately, had to leave early to catch my flight back to Denver.
Made in The Middle is the ultimate testament of design no longer being relegated to large coastal cities. This conference celebrated exceptional local and national design while introducing me to the tight-knit and proud creative community of hidden gem of the Midwest, Kansas City. It was my first and definitively not my last time in KC (Or at Made In The Middle!)
See you next year?