From sellers of pottery to unique light fixtures, Berkeley’s small businesses are coming together to celebrate Bay Area Manufacturing Week, opening their workspaces to the public.
Elizabeth Redman Cleveland, chief strategist of sustainable growth in Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development, has pushed for Berkeley to host this event for the past several years. Redman Cleveland said she hopes to reach several audiences: students, residents, policymakers, potential customers and those seeking jobs.
“For local residents, it’s really important for them to recognize the breadth of economic activity that’s happening in their neighborhoods and their community,” Redman Cleveland said.
Lawrence Grown, founder and lead designer of local company Metro Lighting will be participating as a local manufacturer. Along with his team of designers, Grown hand-designs and fabricates light fixtures to order, using colorful glasswork from local artisans.
Metro Lighting’s work embodies what it likes to call “Berkeley Style” — unique, quirky pieces made sustainably to support the community and its heritage, according to its website. Metro Lighting offered a tour of their shop as well as its behind-the-scenes workspace Tuesday, where visitors saw the metal fabrication and construction processes that go into making Metro Lighting’s warm décor.
“The companies we represent are made in California, and kind of small manufacturers,” Grown said. “We have glass that’s made in Berkeley and in Oakland.”
Yet Berkeley Manufacturing Week does more than bring businesses together. Redman Cleveland said the event also provides an opportunity for residents to find jobs in the area.
In West Berkeley, artists from the Berkeley Potters Guild hosted Manufacturing Week tours for the first time. Established in 1971, the guild is an area of 19 studio spaces, each with its own workspace and kiln in the warehouse, according to its website.
“This is a cool, focused event that we’re really excited about,” said Chanda Beck, an artist and guild secretary. “We’ll all be showing the unique things we do.”
Beck, along with fellow potters Kiyomi Koide and Pamela Zimmerman, opened their studios up to the public for a tour Tuesday. Each artist puts a unique spin on their pieces, from Japanese influences to the incorporation of basket-weaving techniques, Beck noted.
Back for the fourth year in a row, Meyer Sound Laboratories will be offering two behind-the-scenes tours of its audio equipment factories and an inside look of the speaker systems powering local institutions such as BAMPFA and UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall.
“We are proud to be a Berkeley-based company and we are excited about the opportunity to share what we do with the community,” said Meyer Sound executive vice president Helen Meyer in an email. “The city has been so supportive of our business and our employees—especially during the pandemic—and we love being able to give back to the city.”