It is not often that a design firm gets an opportunity to combine its passion for design with its love of community. As with most nationally focused firms, Grant Design Collaborative’s work is usually done for corporate clients outside of our hometown. Recently, we were fortunate to be retained for a branded interior project that intersects our love of design and community. I have known Michael Buckner for several years. I am his client, and we have served together on the Canton Main Street board for a couple of years. When Michael asked if we would be interested in designing his new downtown showroom for Audio Intersection, we did not hesitate to accept the project.

Audio Intersection leased an old storefront in downtown to showcase their home theater and technology integration systems. In addition, Michael had a dream of adding a high-end coffee bar to the space. At first, I thought this was a bit disjointed, but as Michael explained his concept, it made perfect sense. He wanted to create a gathering space for his customers and the local community to meet, have coffee and relax. In the process, his products and services also surrounded them. From huge televisions to an Apple Genius Bar, the new showroom and coffee shop coincide in a natural and obvious manner.

When it came to designing the space, Michael had a few ideas, but he totally trusted my process and concepts for a clean, yet comfortable, space that bridges history with the future. We opened the ceiling and exposed some of the old brick walls. We replaced the worn schoolroom carpeting with modern tiles and rug insets from Interface Flor. I selected several seating vignettes from West Elm, and he added bar stools and café tables for the 8:16 coffee bar. We even tested the limits of local taste by painting the old cream brick façade with unique titanium paint. The exterior was one of the first elements completed, and many questioned this bold move. Once the awning and lighting were added, the storefront began to come to life – again.

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After several months of permitting and typical construction delays, the new Audio Intersection was revealed to the public during November’s Main Street Mornings session sponsored by the Main Street program. It was so gratifying to witness the public’s reaction to the space. Most commented they had “never seen anything like this around Canton.” Michael Buckner did a great job of explaining his vision for the space and the community, and the combined energy and pride in the room was amazing. Since the opening, the local community is gathering in the space to have meetings over coffee or working remotely on their laptops.

When it comes to branded interior design, Grant has a long history of creating great spaces that combine form and function. My team often jokes about my need for order and repetition in a space, but I believe these aspects provide a sense of order and comfort to the people gathered inside. While most of our interior projects have been designed to foster successful business-to-business transactions, there is no greater satisfaction than seeing and feeling the community’s appreciation for good design. And a special thank you goes to Michael Buckner for his vision and investment in professional design services and downtown Canton. He has set the bar for greater things to come, and we are about to begin another exciting space design in the same area.

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