Labor Party to open in Old Town for collaborative creative office space

WICHITA — A lot of independent creative professionals, such as writers, graphic artists and web designers, either work from home or in area coffee shops.

The Labor Party is looking to change that.

“We’re trying to provide kind of another alternative to that,” says Todd Ramsey, a brand strategist.

Ramsey is part of a group that has leased almost 5,000 square feet in a two-story building at 216 N. Mosley, which is north of the Hotel at Old Town’s banquet space, and will sublease space to creative individuals who’d like to share working space.

“The real benefit to people is more than just a desk or office,” Ramsey says.

“It’s more of a collaborative environment that can be created.”

Ramsey will work out of the space along with graphic designer Chris Parks, Jarrett Green of Blink Interactive and Kenton Hansen of Go Banana, who also is Blink’s collective director.

There are five offices left to lease that are $450 a month, which includes Internet and utilities.

For $150 a month, there also are an unlimited number of subleases for a large, open area that includes Wi-Fi and access to desks and other seating.

“It’s kind of like a coffee shop almost,” Ramsey says.

Hansen says the space will allow a lot of sharing of ideas and work.

“This is going to give us the opportunity to be the hub, to facilitate the community,” he says. “That’s really what we’re interested in.”

Ramsey says the definition of creative types will be fairly loose. For instance, he’s talking with an interior designer about subleasing space.

There’s no website yet, but if you’re interested in finding out more, you can reach Ramsey on Twitter (@toddramsey). The space should be ready in January.

Wichita design community resoundingly rejects new Century II logo

centuryWICHITA — They’re calling it Wichita’s own version of the Gap debacle.

Along with unveiling almost $1 million in renovations at Century II late last week, the city debuted the center’s new logo.

The Wichita design community is not impressed.

“It made the rounds pretty immediately,” says Jarrett Green of Blink Interactive. “There was just a collective sort of, what is this?”

Among the comments is that it looks like: something a child drew, a part of the female anatomy, the top of a wok, the top of a grill and a briefcase in motion.

“I like it,” says John D’Angelo, the city’s arts and cultural services manager. “I think it’s nice. You know, it helps update the image.”

He says the logo will brand Century II as a performing arts center.

D’Angelo says he doesn’t mind the critical comments.

“We’ll take both criticism and compliments and review them. Absolutely. We’re always interested.”

The city paid $1,150 to Catherine Lewis of Exchange Design, who does a lot of work for the city’s division of arts and cultural services, to create the logo under its direction.

Not everyone with the city agreed with the direction, though.

“From a pragmatic point of view, I struggle a little bit — being in the business — with a logo design of that nature,” says City Council member Jeff Longwell, who has been in the graphics business for 30 years.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder here,” Longwell says. “Some people may just absolutely fall in love with the design. There’s elements of the design I kind of like.”

There are other parts he finds less appealing, and Longwell is concerned about reproduction issues.

He says the brush stroke that has a paint brush effect is hard to reproduce on, say, a shirt. He says there would be other screen printing reproduction issues as well.

Longwell plans to share his concerns with others at City Hall this week.

Several design experts have very specific concerns about the logo.

“For a premier center . . . the logo doesn’t work well in terms of clarity nor will it reproduce very well in other applications,” says Ann Willoughby of Willoughby Design in Kansas City.

“There are a lot of practical reasons it doesn’t work. For example, I don’t think it would work well as a sign, number one. I don’t think it’s going to reverse out.”

She means it won’t look good for times when it needs to be presented with a dark background.

Also, she says, the graphic isn’t in the right proportion to the letters.

“It will not function well as a logo for all the applications that you’ll need it for.”

There are broader issues as well, designers say.

“Century II is an iconic structure, and it really deserves something bold and elegant, and we just did not achieve that,” says Sonia Greteman of Greteman Group.

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