• Inner Top Sky


Southwest Michigan is a design destination. Indeed, its innovative history makes the region a natural draw for designers.

Sharpie Pens. Graco Strollers. Coleman Outdoor Gear. Whirlpool Appliances, Bell’s Beer, Calphalon Cookware. Stryker Beds. Landscape Forms Site Furniture. Fabri-Kal Greenware. Eaton Superchargers. Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet Kitchens. These are just a few of the amazing and innovative products that are all designed by companies located in Southwest Michigan.

So, how did all these design companies get here? It’s no surprise really. It all started with historical innovations in an expansive variety of industries. Southwest Michigan is a community famous for Checker cabs, parchment paper, the friable pill from the Upjohn Company, Shakespeare rods and reels, Gibson guitars. Dr. Homer Stryker’s turning bed frame, Whirlpool washing machines, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, and the list goes on.

Today you have to look no further than the more than 200 Southwest Michigan companies that incorporate design into their product delivery process, students at Western Michigan University’s Richmond School for Design and Innovation, and MIX events attended by 1,200 area design professionals to see that design in Southwest Michigan not only exists—but thrives!

Did you know?

  • Michigan ranks in the top-10 states for U.S. design patents granted per capita.
  • Michigan has the highest concentration of industrial designers in the nation, surpassing Ohio, Illinois, Texas, New York and California.
  • Over the last eight years, nine Michigan cities have ranked on the list of top-10 metropolitan areas in the U.S. with the highest concentrations of industrial designers, and five of those cities are in Southwest and West Michigan.
  • Southwest Michigan has its own creative community called MIX that brings together 1,200 innovators annually.
  • Kalamazoo ranks in the top-3 places in the U.S. with the lowest cost of living.
  • Students at Western Michigan University’s Richmond Institute for Design + Innovation complete more than 125 credit hours over four years of hand-on industrial design education in 28,000 square feet of dynamic, open and collaborative workspace.
  • LinkedIn’s Economic Graph Research Team named Kalamazoo #2 on its list of top-12 cities with thriving job markets.
  • Kalamazoo’s 19 percent income growth over the last 11 years is tops in the state and the city ranks among Michigan’s top-3 fastest growing places.
  • The Ascent, the personal finance website, ranked Kalamazoo #1 on its list of 10 best cities for high salaries and low cost of living.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor (2017).

Global Brands That You Know


Regional Brands That You Should Get to Know


Types of Design Jobs Available



And, Then There’s These Connections You Can Mix It up With!

MIX events, seminars and workshops harness Southwest Michigan’s power of creativity and invite participants to express and share their individual specialties. MIX brings together local creators and innovators to inspire, education and expose area creatives to the great ideas, people and companies that call Southwest Michigan home. Check out MIX’s current calendar.

Southwest Michigan First

map-icon2700 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49008