A startup in Ohio takes innovation to a new level creating a sustainable, upscale looking product that allows renters to personalize their apartments using a DIY solution.
Apartment living does not generally allow for a lot of remodeling opportunities. Some dwellings permit a change in wall color (as long as you paint it back to the original color when you leave) while others go as far as letting you change your carpet to hardwood...with no reimbursement, of course. There hasn’t been a lot of options available for personalizing or adding depth to your walls - that is until we found Artis Wall at Design and Construction Week in Orlando last week.
The number of people living in apartments is growing. The National Multifamily Housing Council reports that apartments account for 50% of all housing in New York City. Other markets such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas and Washington, D.C. also have high percentages. And for the folks that like to change up the look of their living space, apartments can be a challenge.
Will Kimmerle is a Millennial who simply wanted to solve this problem. While renting an apartment in Cleveland, Ohio, he decided to give one of the walls a facelift. He researched available products and read reviews, only to discover his product options were limited to ceramic tile, wall paper, plastic panels and large planks of wood. Many of the product reviews were negative stating that drywall paper was often ripped off by adhesives.
Photos courtesy Artis Wall
The Right Stuff
Replacing drywall or losing his security deposit were not options for Kimmerle, and coming from a family of entrepreneurs he decided to create a product of his own. With about a year of research, he and co-creator Patrick Cartellone designed a simple and non-destructive installation system that utilizes Velcro. In April of 2016 they launched a Kickstarter with a goal of $30,000. Three days later they had met their goal—plus $25,000. They purchased manufacturing equipment and went to work.
“All I really wanted to do is put this in my apartment...now we can barely keep up with orders,” Kimmerle says.
The signature wood product is manufactured from reclaimed siding taken from old barns and other structures around the U.S. The story behind each piece of reclaimed wood is tracked and told using a code stamped on the back. When the code is typed into the Artis Wall website (try code “201631”) it allows you to read a complete history of that particular piece of wood. Your “remodeled” wall essentially becomes art in your home - a conversational piece with an interesting back story that helps personalize your apartment.
Photos: Heather Wallace
In addition to their wood offerings, they have also created a new product that resembles stone but is made from recycled magazines and newspapers. The Velcro and installation technology is the same but the end look is textured stone.
And this stuff is easy to use. The wood can be cut using a utility knife and can easily be snapped apart. For the stone they recommend using a miter saw and box. The Velcro is applied to the wall at 10-inch intervals then the individual pieces of wood can be quickly attached. When you decide to move from your apartment to another location, you simply pack up your Artis Wall and go.
Artis Wall is what Kimmerle calls a “Millennial Contemporary Look,” appropriate for the current culture we’re in. A 2016 survey by apartmentlist.com shows homeownership rates are the lowest they’ve been in 50 years. So while renters may choose to, or are forced to, live in apartments for a longer period, Artis Wall gives them a DIY option of changing the look of their space - and not getting in trouble with their landlord.
Startups, like Artis Wall, as well as cross-industry disruptors (think Nest) have steadily been changing the way innovation is occurring in the building and design industry. We can’t wait to see what other products are developed and improved upon in the next five years in the construction space. Tell us what you are seeing that is innovative in construction!
Photo courtesy Artis Wall
About the Authors:
Colby Swanson is a serial entrepreneur with a 360 degree understanding of the construction industry. His goal is to help the residential industry build smarter, faster and more equitably for everyone. As a co-founder and partner of the construction consulting firm, Momentum Innovation Group, he helps clients accelerate innovation.
Heather Wallace is the owner of Brand H Marketing, a boutique branding and marketing company focused on content creation and social media strategies. As a freelance writer and photographer she has covered topics such as resiliency, disaster mitigation, IoT, IAQ, food scarcity, energy and design.