Byrne’s mobile charging stations unite form and function at ArtPrize

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Because it’s totally mobile, visitors can move Vesta to where it’s needed, including tableside while grabbing a bite to eat. Courtesy Byrne Electrical

A Rockford-based maker of power and data solutions is lending a hand to ArtPrize visitors who need to charge their devices with a mobile unit that is designed to be both useful and elegant.

Byrne Electrical’s Vesta mobile charging stations are scattered throughout 27 outdoor spaces in downtown Grand Rapids for the 2021 ArtPrize competition that runs through Oct. 3.

The question of how art intersects with technology has always been an interesting one to Byrne, the company said. ArtPrize organizers approached its leadership looking for an artful way to keep attendees plugged in during their visit. This year, ArtPrize visitors will rely on their phones more than ever before, so keeping those devices charged is not only critical to making this year’s visitor experience easier and more enjoyable, but to the success of ArtPrize itself, the company said.

ArtPrize organizers created a new system that puts less emphasis on voting during the festival, making it more about supporting artists online. A new ArtPrize game invites visitors to engage with an interactive web app through which event goers will award prizes to artists by scanning unique QR codes throughout downtown Grand Rapids. Each prize awarded to an artist directly impacts their chance of winning the grand prize. Phones also will help visitors navigate the far-reaching event, helping them locate transportation, parking, restaurants, charging stations and venues.

So when it came to delivering a mobile charge solution, Byrne said its Vesta product was the obvious answer.

“Battery powered and completely portable with weatherproof, waterproof USBs — including USB-C charging — Vesta is the ideal choice for a wide range of sharable settings, delivering enough convenient, table-height power to charge up to 25 phones in an eight-hour period,” Byrne said.

The special-edition Vesta found at ArtPrize will feature retractable, built-in charging cables, so there’s no need to bring them. Because it’s totally mobile, visitors can move Vesta to where it’s needed, including tableside while grabbing a bite to eat. IoT enabled technology will allow Byrne to track the location of each Vesta throughout the day.

On the form side, Vesta offers “sleek, modern lines and an on-trend color palette,” but for an event like ArtPrize, Byrne wanted to take it to the next level. Artist Nina Lu was chosen to help with that. For years, Byrne has enlisted local artists to create a graphic inspiration piece that serves as the company’s “finish of the year,” applied to products and materials. For 2021, Byrne’s artist is Lu, a muralist and illustrator.

A Chinese-born, Grand Rapids-raised visual artist, she is a student at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. As a Michigander, she has always had a passion for the environment and how modern society interacts with natural spaces, she said. Her curiosity about how humans, nature and technology connect is part of what first caught Byrne’s attention, the company said.

Nina Lu. Courtesy Byrne Electrical

“Nina is a young artist but wise beyond her years,” said Dave Kantor, senior marketing manager at Byrne. “She is creative, driven and connected to the wonder of the world around her. We’re so proud to be a sponsor of her incredible work and proud to be a partner of ArtPrize this year.”

At this year’s ArtPrize, Byrne’s Vesta charging stations will be scattered throughout downtown, with each unit covered in a custom design from Lu, illustrating what the “power of connection” means to her. The customizations also will give Byrne an opportunity to communicate to potential clients the power of customization for conveying a specific message to the world.

More information on Byrne’s Vesta is at byrne.com.

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