Native Grand Rapids designers put local businesses ‘on the grid’

Posted at 10:59 PM, Jan 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-25 00:13:52-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A website called On The Grid is a project that gives you a virtual, but local taste of places to visit while in various cities. Since November, Grand Rapids has been added to that list.

“It’s big and large scale, and it’s growing. It’s a huge project, and they have different cities from all over the world now on this site,” said Megan Sundquist, an ambassador for the Grand Rapids neighborhoods on the website.

On The Grid was started by a New-York based company this past year called Hyperakt, and its curated by designers around the world featuring more than 50 cities from Dubai to Detroit.

The website is unlike Yelp or Urban Spoon where people look for places to eat and visit, On the Grid is made by local designers and broken up into neighborhoods.  It's most useful for people who want to explore different neighborhoods and the “hidden gems” they have to offer. The point of the website is to give you a recommendation from a local who frequents the area of Grand Rapids with, local businesses that you won't necessarily find anywhere else.

Grand Rapids is divided into neighborhoods on the website: East Hills, West Side, Eastown, and Heartside.  Whether you are a local looking for new places to explore, a repeat visitor, or a first timer, the website gives you a list of at least 20 honest recommendations from people who live and explore in these areas.

“What’s nice is none of what we do is paid for by a business, it’s all labor of love. It’s all designer and firms’ expression and what they think is great to go to in that neighborhood. So I feel like we are giving a more unique perspective,” said Sundquist.

Each curator of the neighborhoods is a designer (graphic designer or otherwise), and usually work for a firm. For example, Heartside is curated by Carnevale and Natalie Nicole Photo, and Eastside is curated by Square one Design. Sundquist, who works for Carnevale, said the best part is this will never point you towards a chain whether you are looking to eat, for drinks, coffee, shopping, or a good bookstore.

Sundquist said the website is still new, so they sometimes have trouble adding businesses to their list.

“Some businesses aren’t on board with letting us come in and take pictures and adding them to the website just yet.”

Sundquist said that with time she hopes they’ll sign on, because it’s really about pushing local businesses forward. All people who curate for the website are volunteer.

“Most people do it as a side project. It’s really a labor of love. We take our own pictures too, no business is paying to advertise.”

There will be three more neighborhoods added to the Grand Rapids section: downtown, heritage hill, and midtown. If you’re interested in becoming a curator for a neighborhood or ambassador for a city, you can do that here.