Discovering Deksia’s Creative Space

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Grand Rapids, Michigan is home to many things. Among them, the 105-year-old Grand Rapids Art Museum; 50 breweries that won the title of “Beer City, USA” for the city in 2012 and 2013; and Deksia, a “brand strategy, marketing and advertising agency” founded in 2003.

Deksia’s team of 12 recently moved to a new creative space in the up-and-coming Southside of Grand Rapids. The building, which sat vacant for 80 years before Aaron VanderGalien and Joshua Conran (two of Deksia’s owners) found it in 2009, was an old paint factory for Steelcase furniture manufacturer. The guys immediately decided to buy the dilapidated building with the intention of renovating and moving Deksia there. “The building’s history is a perfect reflection of our strong Midwest work ethic, underdog status and up-and-coming national appeal,” says VanderGalien, who also notes the pride Deksia employees have for their company’s roots.

CreativeSPace_DEKinterior-9781CreativeSpace_DEKinterior-9815rt CreativeSpace_DEKinterior-9834 CreativeSpace_DEKinterior-9696rtPhotographs by: Adam Bird


Although, “underdog” might not be the best descriptor for Deksia, which has worked for national brands like Uber, Twitter, Huffington Post and Cotton, it certainly alludes to their passion for working with small and emerging businesses like Yello Dumpsters, Shine and Sietsemas Orchards. In fact, Deksia’s move was not one made in hopes of getting out of a small town to make it in the big leagues. It was the exact opposite. The team moved from their original building to the new one—right down the street—“because they believed in the neighborhood and really want to make a difference there.” The old building is now the location for a local coffee company. To bring the creative space even closer to the community, Deksia regularly hires neighborhood residents to help out with yard work, painting and cleaning.

2015_international_web_ads_oct2_300x190Deksia has also integrated a communal space and central kitchen for friends and clients to use when in need of a dwelling conducive to creative thinking. The space is sometimes used for interviews and is often visited by current and former Deksia clients, “as it’s often really helpful for them to have a place with [fewer] distractions than their own offices.” It’s not always work, work, work, though. The communal area is also used for “Wino Fridays,” Deksia’s “occasional happy hours” for family, friends and clients to unwind at the end of a long week. Soon enough, the team hopes to have a hidden lounge accessible only by the secret escape tunnel hidden behind a bookcase. (No, the creatives at Deksia are not paranoid, getaway planners. The tunnel is an old fire escape from the building’s days as a factory.)

The team’s dedication to health and mental well-being doesn’t stop there. Built in bike racks and available showers encourage employees to take advantage of their workspace during business hours to avoid late-night gym runs and still remain healthy. “People spend so much time at work these days that their work environment needs to have the same qualities as their home, comfortable, relaxing and design-friendly,” says VanderGalien.

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The beautiful space couldn’t promote comfort (and style) any more than it already does. Wide open desk space, neutral colors, large windows and a fairly open floor plan promote teamwork and offer plenty of space for group brainstorming. The building is also equipped for sustainability. “Smart technologies control nearly every aspect of its inner workings, including the thermostat, lighting, speakers and computer network.”

Despite the incredible updates, Deksia stayed true to the building’s origins by keeping in tact the industrial sliding doors, exposed brick walls and original chimney. The building’s exterior also remains the same, save for the graffiti wall created by a local artist and friend of the company.

Deksia’s midwestern charm is present in both their incredible design work and beautiful creative space. Don’t let the quiet neighborhood fool you—big things are happening in Grand Rapids’ Southside, and Deksia is ready to be there through it all.

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DEKinterior-9832 DEKinterior-9822 DEKinterior-9766 DEKinterior-9789rtPhotographs by: Adam Bird

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