Cover Story: Young architecture firm designs with the community in mind

By Michelle Corbet  –  Reporter, Memphis Business Journal

The architects of designshop founded their firm to not only create aesthetically pleasing buildings but to use their design to inspire inclusion for everyone from the Grizzlies fans in the FedExForum stands to Memphis’ youngest explorers at the Children’s Museum of Memphis.

After working together at Memphis-based archimania, Scott Guidry and Tim Michael realized they shared a goal of owning their own firm. Founded on a desire to be closer to the work in all phases, Guidry and Michael opened designshop in 2013.

“We cheer for those guys [at Archimania],” Michael said. “We like to think they helped us as much as we helped them. They charted the path for progressive design in Memphis.”

The pair are among a wave of young architects who are making a name for themselves after working for some of Memphis' largest firms.

To see examples of designshop's work, click the slideshow at the top of the page.

Guidry's and Michael's mission of inclusion through design was instilled long ago by Jerry Feinstone, who founded Boscos Restaurant & Brewing Co. with Chuck Skypeck. The restaurateurs were opening their new spot in Midtown long before the days of the Overton Square revival.

“[Feinstone] tasked the design team to create a place where a biker and a businessman would sit together, have a drink and share a conversation,” Guidry said. “I thought he was nuts but, in fact, he nailed it. [Boscos] is still open and thriving today. I attribute that idea to its longevity and, every time we eat at Boscos Squared, we notice the diverse population sitting at the bar. Our goal is to repeat this time and again.”

The architects' backgrounds in millwork and furniture-building inspired the name. Their long-term vision is to bring back the shop approach and build custom furniture pieces that go with their designs.

On day one of each project, designshop wants to know the budget so they can balance the costs to ensure all pieces are accounted for from the beginning.

The firm’s early work consisted mostly of residential projects, and while Guidry and Michael still enjoy designing houses, they feel they can make more of an impact with public projects.

“We have an affection for this city. Any developer who comes to us, we try to think of how that will affect the city as a whole and not just the client. We put our customers’ shoes on, so to speak,” Guidry said. “We want our projects to not only look nice but function well, not only from the owner’s perspective, but [from] customers’ and even the people driving down the street.”

In designing the Memphis Grizzlies’ Training Center, designshop hoped to create a place where the team could have a positive experience. Then-head coach David Fizdale wanted a simple, clean, clutter-free space for the players to call their home away from home.

“The impact and influence the team has on our youth, the nation’s perception of Memphis and the local economy is much larger than most of us realize,” Guidry said. “For those reasons, we jumped at the call to partner with the ownership group on this project as well as other player/coach-related areas. If we can help provide a positive player experience, how could that not translate to the hardwood for a positive fan experience?”

The firm also recently designed the new home for the Memphis Grand Carousel, which opened last year at the Children's Museum.

While some firms have a particular style, designshop does not want to be known for any one look.

“We have a varied portfolio of projects,” Michael said. “We don’t do the same one over and over. We don’t want to specialize in one thing, except design and whatever that entails.” 

Inspired by the reimagining of Crosstown Concourse and the notion of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art moving Downtown, designshop encourages their clients to think bigger: “How does your building look from the street? What is it doing for the greater public?”

Michael, a University of Memphis graduate, came back to the Bluff City after studying under modern and industrial architect Gary Cunningham in Dallas. He thinks Memphis is a great place to be creative because it does not have the same pressure as a large city such as Dallas, Boston or L.A.

It was the University of Memphis that first brought Guidry to Memphis from Louisiana. After meeting his wife, Tanya, and starting a family, he’s been here ever since.

“Memphis has this potential. It has for decades. … I don’t want to miss when it has its renaissance,” Guidry said. “We want to be a part of that.”