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Custom Experiential Space Fabricator Taps KCAD Alum to Lead Design Collaboration

Posted March 29, 2017 in AlumniGraphic Design

Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) alumna Amy Shepard (’87, BFA Graphic Design) has been hired by Xibitz, a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based fabricator of custom experiential spaces, as director of creative services.

In over 25 years as a design professional, Shepard has balanced successful entrepreneurship with key leadership positions in other companies. Now, she’ll channel the breadth and depth of her experiences into leading Xibitz’ internal design team and facilitating creative collaboration with external partners and clients.

“Amy’s ability to communicate and maintain an active pulse on the creative market allows us to provide our design partners and clients with a heightened experience, enhanced storytelling and more refined spaces,” said Ben Metzger, principal at Xibitz.

KCAD alumna Amy ShepardAmy Shepard (image courtesy of Xibitz) 

Shepard comes to her new position after nearly five years of owning and operating Venn Integration LLC, a full-service brand experience firm. It was her second time going into business for herself, the first being a decade long run with Vision Group, the brand experience firm she started just two years after graduating from KCAD. In between her entrepreneurial endeavors, she spent nearly 12 years as vice president of strategy and brand experience at DesignVox, a Grand Rapids-based firm headed by KCAD alumnus Mike Smith (’83, BFA Graphic Design).

“I’m an entrepreneur at heart but this never precludes me from serving as an intrapreneurial leader for the right company,” says Shepard. “My career has been a sweet rhythm of both.”

With Venn Integration, DesignVox, and Vision Group, Shepard frequently collaborated with Xibitz to fabricate and install branded space solutions for her clients, developing a particular passion for that kind of work along the way. When the company approached her with the opportunity to focus exclusively on developing spatial brand experiences across multiple industries, she knew she couldn’t pass it up. 

“The spaces we inhabit throughout our day inspire our beliefs and influence our actions. Using my visual art and storytelling expertise to develop compelling brand experiences is a favorite aspect of my work,” says Shepard. “Being able to play a small part in making a child’s stay in the hospital more enjoyable or inspiring a team to be more courageously innovative is both heady and humbling.”

Xibitz collaborates with a number of the nation’s leading design firms to develop, fabricate, and implemental strategic and creative solutions for experiential spaces. The firm’s recent client projects include the new Airbus Experience Center in Washington, D.C., the recent gallery renovation and expansion at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, the Rubbermaid Design Center in Kalamazoo, Mich., and the Seattle Children’s Hospital Donor Wall, to name a few.

As she works to enhance client relationships and outcomes for Xibitz, Shepard will leverage the creative problem-solving skills and strategies she first developed at KCAD and has been honing ever since.

“All good and meaningful design creates opportunities from a challenge. People are dynamic and complex, so at KCAD we were taught to solve design problems in a human-centered, design-thinking way,” she says. “The cyclical problem-solving process of design thinking­ – always taking in new information and testing fresh theories while meeting objectives – solves challenges successfully. The structure and realism of our curriculum at KCAD gave us the foundation to be strong design thinkers.”
 

Learn more about KCAD’s Graphic Design program at kcad.edu/graphicdesign.

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