Bounce Innovation Hub - First Floor Grand Opening

(sneak preview…)

(sneak preview…)

Wow, it’s hard to believe, but it’s here – the Grand Opening and Open House of the first floor at Bounce Innovation Hub! We have incorporated the work of dozens of local artists and makers into our largest design plan yet and can’t wait for everyone to see it. There are a lot of events planned for May 22 and we’d love if you could come and be a part of it. The schedule below is just a sample of the events planned that day:


4:30 p.m. Welcome remarks in The Signal Tree Event Space.

5-8 p.m. Explore the entire building with a variety of different activities:

·         Tours: Take a quick tour of the newly renovated space.

·         eSports Lab: Join The University of Akron eSports team for free play! Learn about eSports, meet the team, and get a chance to play some of the more popular games on our new state-of-the-art computers.

·         The Creative Co-op at Bounce: Check out Bounce’s new makerspace and creative workshop with hands-on demos with our 3D printers and other equipment.

·         Building Open House: Travel upstairs to floors 2-9 to learn more about our startups in residence and what they’re working on here at Bounce.

·         Scavenger Hunt: Local art is everywhere on our first floor! See if you can unravel our clues and take a deeper look at the art we incorporated into the space. Participants also win an extra prize for playing!

·         Demo Day: From 6-7 p.m., see what we “really” do here at Bounce with Demo Day, where five software companies in our accelerator programs pitch to a live audience for investment.

Be sure to reserve your spot here

Call for Photography

Totally non-professional snapshot of the Overlook Area at Cascade Valley Metro Park by Sophie. ;)

Totally non-professional snapshot of the Overlook Area at Cascade Valley Metro Park by Sophie. ;)

Hazel Tree Design Studio is seeking site-specific scenic work by Akron/Northeast Ohio photographers. We are looking for photography of the following areas: 

  1. The Signal Tree 

  1. The Cuyahoga River 

  1. The Mingo Trail in Sand Run Metro Park 

  1. Cascade Valley Metro Park 

  1. Imagery or scenery that symbolizes or signifies the trail that connected the Tuscarawas and Cuyahoga rivers, also known as the Portage, which Indigenous Peoples used to transport their canoes overland from one river to the other.  

These works will be incorporated into the interior design plan for ‘The Generator’, Bounce Innovation Hub’s 27,000 square-foot first-floor co-working space, opening in Spring 2019. The Generator will include open co-working areas, rentable desks and offices, event space, conference rooms, a café and a makerspace. 

Read more about our local focus and The Generator project here.  



This opportunity is limited to Akron, Ohio and Northeast Ohio artists. 


How to Apply 

Please email interest for the opportunity to Steve Brightman at Hazel Tree, via email:, with the subject line: “Bounce Scenic Photography.” Please include an image of the photograph(s) you have for purchase, along with the selling price. 

Deadline for submission is March 5, 2019. 


Call for Artists and Your Art!

Hazel Tree Design Studio is looking to purchase artworks of various media, created by Akron/Northeast Ohio artists. These works will be incorporated into the interior design plan for ‘The Generator’, Bounce Innovation Hub’s 27,000 square-foot first-floor co-working space, opening in Spring 2019. The Generator will include open co-working areas, rentable desks and offices, event space, conference rooms, a café and a makerspace.

Our interior design focus has always been dedicated to locally-made furnishings and art. The Generator project is our biggest opportunity to date to showcase work that is of, by and for Akron. We want to shine a light upon local artists and makers throughout the space, while also incorporating artifacts from our city’s industrial roots and recognizing current day innovation, where appropriate. Read more about our local focus and The Generator project here.


This opportunity is limited to Akron, Ohio and Northeast Ohio artists.

How to Apply

Please email interest for the opportunity to Steve Brightman at Hazel Tree, via email:, with the subject line: “Bounce Artists.” Please include links to any artwork you have for sale online, as well as the date/time/location of any upcoming art shows your work will be featured in. If your studio space is the best place to view your art, please let us know when we can visit. We will be shopping for art from studios and galleries in March and April.

If you do not have artwork for sale online or on display, you can send us photos of work you currently have for sale, along with a description of media and the selling price.

Deadline for submission is March 1.

Call for Artists - Muralists: for work in Bounce Innovation Hub

Bounce Innovation Hub

Bounce Innovation Hub

This blog post is the first of a series of calls for artists that we will be placing over the next few weeks/months. We are seeking several Akron/Northeast Ohio artists to create murals to be included as a part of the Bounce Innovation Hub interior design project, The Generator. The Generator, opening in Spring 2019, will be Bounce’s new 27,000 square foot first floor co-working space and will include open co-working areas, rentable desks and offices, event space, conference rooms, a café and a makerspace.

Our interior design focus has always been one of dedication to locally-made furnishings and art. For The Generator, we will incorporate artifacts from our industrial city’s roots, plus nod to our current day innovation, as well as shine a light upon local artists and makers throughout, providing an opportunity for this very exciting project for our community to be, “Of, By, and For Akron.”

Read more about our local focus and The Generator project here:

The Project

Multiple muralists will be installing their work on seven different, 2’ wide x 16’ high concrete pillars throughout The Generator, as artwork within the Bounce Innovation Hub.

We are seeking murals of various mediums and artists who would be interested in possibly designing with a color or subject theme in mind.

Murals for singular pillars must be able to be completed within one week’s time in early April, 2019. Artists creating two-pillar mural compositions will have two weeks’ time to complete their installation.

The budget will allow for proper equipment rentals to complete the installations, and Hazel Tree will coordinate and cover the costs for this aspect for the artists.

The artist(s) will need to purchase new materials for this project within the budget allotted (no old paint or glue, for instance), and if the mural is created with a medium that needs sealed, artist will seal their work properly.

The following are included in this call for artists to create murals on:

(1) individual pillar mural, 4-sided - $1800.00

(1) individual pillar mural, 3-sided - $1600.00

(1) individual pillar mural, 2-sided, $1400.00

(2) sets of two 4-sided pillar murals, $3000.00/set

The Award

Each muralist will be awarded the dollar amount set above, to design and install their pillar mural(s) and will need to include all applied materials needed within this budget.

Artists will be selected based on past work and design narrative, but will then need to meet with the Hazel Tree design team to learn about the project in order to create and submit their site-specific mural design. Designs will need to be presented to Hazel Tree and Bounce during the first week of March, 2019, and artists will need to be open to revisions if requested by the clients. Revisions will then need to be made within a subsequent two-week period, for finalizing the design before the installation week(s) starts on April 1, 2019.


This opportunity is limited to Akron, Ohio and Northeast Ohio artists.

How to Apply

Please email interest for the opportunity by submitting a cover letter, design narrative, CV, and five (5) examples of your past artwork to Hazel Tree Interiors, via email:, with the subject line: “Bounce Murals”.

Deadline for submission is midnight January 20, 2019 and notification of acceptance will be by February 1, 2019. Period of design through installation will be February 2 – April 13, 2019

Guy Friday On The Scene...


by Steve Brightman

For those who may not yet know, I am the latest addition to the Hazel Tree family. During my interview, it was explained that the position was one which would entail many responsibilities and that these would literally be determined from one day to the next and that I would, in essence, need to be their Guy Friday. We all laughed and then it was suggested that this could be my job title.

I am not well-versed in Daniel Defoe’s classic, Robinson Crusoe, but I know enough about it to know that I – like Friday - am fiercely loyal and can be handy in a pinch. I’m also self-aware enough to know that I’ve never ever been one to balk at flouting convention, so I very nearly jumped out of my chair to say “YES.” Fast forward a month or so and here I am writing a blog post about Hazel Tree’s recent visit to Derby Downs and the Soap Box Derby Museum.

One of the most recent responsibilities bestowed upon me is organizing the curated artifacts which are being donated for use in the Generator, which occupies the first floor of Bounce Innovation Hub. These artifacts will be displayed to help remind all who visit and work there that innovation and creativity have always been Akron hallmarks and that even though Akron is rapidly moving forward in the 21st century, there are a handful of cultural and historical pillars which continue to support our city and our collective identity.

The first of these local icons to provide artifacts is the Soap Box Derby. While we were at the museum to pick these up, they gave us a quick tour. We learned about the long and storied history of the event, the evolution of the derby cars, and the most recent winners and record holders. We found out that the 40th anniversary of the first female winner recently passed and got to see the car she rode to victory in 1974.

They also showed us the car that they are donating and, on our way out, generously handed over a veritable treasure trove of material: a giant box of press clippings, wire and publicity photos, and design manuals. We are incredibly honored to have received these and look forward to finding just the right artifacts to showcase the Soap Box Derby’s place in Akron history and to help spur creativity in the Generator workspace.

Oh, Christmas Tree, Oh, Christmas Tree...

Photo of Chihuly-esque ornament components made by Jennifer Davis and her students, courtesy of Akron Children’s Museum

Photo of Chihuly-esque ornament components made by Jennifer Davis and her students, courtesy of Akron Children’s Museum

by Sophie Franchi

There are very few things I love about the holidays as much as I love trimming a tree. I was amazed when I learned that Hazel Tree was responsible for decorating the Lock 3 Christmas Tree last year. So, when I found out that we’d get to do the honors again this year, I was beyond excited. Images of twinkling lights and shiny ornaments sparkled in my mind, and I could smell the fresh pine and hot cocoa as if it were already mid-November.

Never mind the frozen fingers and toes. Those will warm back up eventually, and it’s worth it for 25 feet of pure holiday cheer!

This year, we are teaming up with Akron Children’s Museum (ACM) to create some of the decorations out of recycled materials. We have two projects that we’re working on with them for this design.

First, Jen Davis of SmART Studio led a workshop at ACM for freshman students from Walsh Jesuit High School to create colorful Chihuly-inspired ornaments from recycled water bottles. It takes three water bottles to create one ornament. The students cut the bottles into strips, which they colored with permanent marker and then strung together.

Also, Chris Kovacevich and Karen are working together with kids ages 10 and up at ACM to create woodland creatures out of found/repurposed materials. If you’re interested in participating, learn more here.

We hope these two projects will add a new and exciting element to the tree, while at the same time drawing attention to the museum, which is located right next to Lock 3.

Follow us on Instagram for tree trimming updates, and be sure to join us at Lock 3 for the lighting ceremony on November 23!

Bounce-ing Right into My Role at Hazel Tree


by Sophie Franchi

Note: This post is the first in a series about working on The Generator - Bounce Innovation Hub’s first floor.

When I first started at Hazel Tree, we were mid-project with most of our clients. But that didn’t really matter too much to me, because at that point, my responsibilities were pretty much limited to helping clients who came into the studio, assisting with the occasional “showroom shuffle” (our name for rearranging spaces and purposes of spaces within the studio), making sure everything was neat and tidy, filling vases with fresh flowers, posting to social media and writing blogs.

So, Bounce Innovation Hub’s first floor, which they’re calling “The Generator,” is the first project I’ve worked on since *almost* the beginning. Right around the time we solidified our contract with Bounce, one of our designers, Chelsea announced that she was moving to New York City to pursue a career in textiles (Yay, Chelsea!). That’s when I moved into more of a design assistant role at Hazel Tree.

It’s been a really exciting time for me, and for our whole team. This is Hazel Tree’s biggest project yet – 30,000 square feet of commercial awesomeness.  And the scope of the project has only gotten bigger and better as the months have flown by. I’ve witnessed this project grow from super cool, innovative design and Akron-ization of the space to something much bigger for our community of artists and artisans. Now, instead of merely peppering our design of the space with Akron-made art and artistic furnishings, we’re finding creative ways to salvage and repurpose Akron artifacts and architectural relics to use in our design, and we’re also figuring out how to have a large percentage of the furnishings made right here in Akron.

Certain things – like rolling/nesting tables and task chairs that need warranties and such – we will still order from commercial furniture companies. But for some areas, we get to work with a skilled team of artisans to make furniture that is beautiful AND functional – AND locally made! These are people that Jon and Karen have known and worked with and trusted for the last ten years, so it’s such a fun experience to get to watch them all come together and work on this project!


So now, as Bounce has become one of our primary focuses here at the studio, I’ve been spending my days searching through product binders for just the right chairs and tables, ordering fabric and finish samples, communicating with various representatives of various companies, helping choose tile and carpet and laminate and LVT and furnishings, making spreadsheets, project managing like a champ (Thank you, Trello and Dropbox), and generally geeking out about how cool my new job is.


The best part is that I still get to arrange fresh-cut flowers for the studio and blog about this whole experience, all while diving deep into the world of designing spaces.

What a way to begin.

Un-storing the Store: How Hazel Tree Is Getting Back to its Roots

Photo of Hazel Tree on opening day eight years ago, featuring antiques, mid-century modern furnishings, architectural relics, framed wallpaper samples, and local art.

Photo of Hazel Tree on opening day eight years ago, featuring antiques, mid-century modern furnishings, architectural relics, framed wallpaper samples, and local art.

When Karen and Jon were joining their home-based interior design and picture framing businesses back in 2010, they were not intending to open a store. But then, in a most fortunate turn of events, Hazel Tree grew to be one.

When Hazel Tree first transformed the old Norka Futon building over eight years ago, it was more of a picture framing studio and interior design showroom. It was rich with vignettes of different sorts: locally-made furniture, antiques, architectural salvage relics, repurposed pieces, current day wallpapers and vintage fabrics, and a few artworks on the walls.

As the studio opened and grew, Karen and Jon were happy to let the needs of local artists and makers drive the direction of the space. Amid the new and repurposed furnishings, they started taking in more and more locally-made gift-type accessories for the home, and hanging the work of a growing number of local 2D artists as well.

Over time, Hazel Tree had officially become a store.

Fast forward to present day, 2018. The design and framing studio has gotten busier and busier, and every year has been greater than the last! At the same time, the artist economy in Akron is growing and thriving, and new art galleries and artisan-focused stores are popping up all around town. With so many places now for our community and Akron visitors to find the work of local artists and makers, our showroom no longer needs to hold that space as a gallery or a store for our local artists. (Which is AMAZING for the artist community and for our city!)

This all led us to one big decision: it’s time for the Hazel Tree design studio to get back to its roots. It’s time to un-store the store.

So what’s next for our building? Our team will use the studio to focus on what we do most and what we do best: we’ll meet with clients and customers to design interior and exterior spaces, and we’ll frame pictures!

Through all of this, we will never stop connecting our clients to the work of local artists and makers — it’s always been a part of our mission to do so, and it always will be! We’ll just do it with fewer pieces in the studio, and more one-on-one connection, or through digital resources.

As we un-store the store, Hazel Tree will look a little different. It won’t be as constantly programmed with artworks and smaller items for sale like it has been. The walls will have some glorious whitespace from time to time, just waiting for the next “something” we are interested in featuring, or sometimes we’ll be installing something ourselves. We’ll also become a pop-up space for shows and events for interested artists and makers.

Another new thing you’ll see when you come in is a new fabric display for Norwalk Furniture, since we sell so many of their locally-made upholstered furniture pieces to our design clients. If you’ve never heard of them, Norwalk Furniture is a 100+ year-old, nationally-renowned, high-quality furniture company — and it’s only 63 miles from us. Since we found their furniture line about five years ago, we have been so happy to be able to connect our design clients to locally-made sectionals, sofas, dining chairs, recliners, etc.

And lastly, from time to time, we will activate our outdoor space and our indoor space to be able to host events that are important and meaningful to the community at large and the West Hill neighborhood. While we will never be an actual event space, we are very involved in our community and we want to open our doors after hours to host things near and dear to our mission. In that process, we hope to be one of the things that holds our beloved neighborhood of West Hill together.  

For the last eight years, Hazel Tree has serviced our artist community as a store. Now it’s still going to service the artist community — just in slightly different ways. It’s also going to be a totally different thing for a different type of community, as Akron and West Hill continues to grow over the next couple of years.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for your support of us and the incredible Northeast Ohio artisan community that we have grown up with since 2010.

Stop in and see us the next time you’re over our way. We’d love to see you again or say hello for the first time.

P. S. Stay tuned for a trip down memory lane: soon we’ll post a slideshow of photos from past events and previous incarnations of the studio.

Hazel Tree Workshop, 4th Floor: Hazel Tree Gets a Dreamy New Workshop Space


You may have seen the pictures of our new Hazel Tree Workshop that we've shared on Facebook and Instagram. We are so excited to have this additional space inside Bounce Innovation Hub in downtown Akron!

This space will serve as our mission control for our interior design of the Bounce Generator, which is the first floor co-working space, event space, cafe and maker-space opening in 2019.

Our workshop will also serve as flex space for when we need room to spread out and create for our own art installation projects or creative endeavors, and we hope to also share this beautiful space with our artist friends.

Here's a picture of what the workshop looked like when we first got it:


Here's another photo (in addition to the first photo above) of what it looks like now, with a fresh coat of paint.


Also, check out the interesting geometric shadows cast on the walls by the workshop windows!


We also noticed some really cool reflections on the building next door, but their source is still a mystery...


These reflections likely came from something on the roof, but we'd never noticed them before because it was our first time spending the entire morning in the workshop.  

It's so neat to think about reflective art made from the sun. Seeing this gave us some interesting ideas on how to play with reflection and shadows in our designs. 

This is a great example of how, without even meaning to, arts and sciences can inspire each other in this business incubator building.

We will be blogging about the Bounce Innovation Hub Generator project as we go, so watch for the progress updates! 

Hazel Tree Wonderland: The making of a textile forest in downtown Akron

by Sophie Franchi

Photo by Karen Starr

Photo by Karen Starr

When Karen told me that I’d get to work with her and Chelsea on our very own Curated Storefront exhibit, I had no idea what to expect, but I knew it was going to be awesome.

The Curated Storefront is a 2016 Knight Arts Challenge winning project conceived by Rick Rogers. It’s an ongoing series of art exhibitions created in unused storefronts in downtown Akron. The intention is to activate those spaces in an effort to bring business back into downtown.  

Located at 68 East Mill Street, our storefront is in a fantastic location: right in the middle of downtown, in Greystone Hall, across from the John S. Knight Center and the Akron Summit Convention and Visitors Bureau. We had two windows to work with: a large window, viewable from the front and side, and a smaller window off to the left.

In the large window, we created a fabric wonderland. Chelsea hand-dyed all of the rayon and silk textiles on the far right of the exhibit with dyes that she created from avocado, blackberry and indigo. She dyed the draping fabrics in an ombre fashion, with avocado or blackberry dye on one end fading into indigo dye on the other, and all of the sheer silk fabrics were dyed with indigo. All the indigo fabric was dyed in a low-submersion dye bath, so the natural twist of the fabric setting in the solution created its own unique print. Once they were dry, Chelsea stitched the panels to create some cinching, which created a resemblance to Austrian stage curtains.

Chelsea also heat treated and hand-dyed the wool roving (the long, rope-like wool textiles in the middle of the exhibit) with dyes from onion skin, privet bush berries and indigo. She left some roving untreated for a different effect.

Photo by Sophie Franchi

Photo by Sophie Franchi

Together, the three of us hung the individual pieces of roving and yarn and and played with them to create different textural effects. We then incorporated spanish moss for another organic element. We hung two Akron architectural relics: salvaged light fixtures from the ends of the deli counter at the old Bisson’s Grocery Store that used to be in Wallhaven. Then we hung the fabric panels on the far right, twisting, turning, draping, and re-draping until we got the effects we wanted.

Photo by Chelsea Uhl

Photo by Chelsea Uhl

For the smaller window to the left, Karen found an owl that that she made even more majestic by painting him and adorning him with feathers that she cut individually out of jewel-toned crushed velvet and glued on one by one. We nestled him behind a witchy black lace curtain to balance the lighter mood of the other window. During the day, the owl is more hidden, and the viewer has to look a little harder to see it. But at night, the owl comes to life, as nocturnal creatures do.

Photo by Sophie Franchi

Photo by Sophie Franchi

Photo by Courtney Cable

Photo by Courtney Cable

The Hazel Tree Wonderland exhibit is best viewed in the early evening, at night, or before dawn, as that’s when there is the least amount of light reflecting off the windows to obstruct the view. The exhibit will be on display until January, when the next artist will take over the storefront. Next time you’re grabbing a cookie from Sweet Mary’s Bakery or some tacos at Nuevo, stop by and check it out!