Ann Arbor’s Lisa Sauve named to Forbes Next 1000 list

Sauve co-founded Synecdoche Design Studio

Lisa Sauve, CEO and Principal of Synecdoche Design Studio in Ann Arbor. (Abby Rose Photo)

ANN ARBOR – One of Tree Town’s very own has been named to the Forbes Next 1000 list.

Lisa Sauve, CEO and Principal of Synecdoche Design Studio, has been recognized on the publication’s list that “showcases the ambitious sole proprietors, self-funded shops and pre-revenue startups in every region of the country -- all with under $10 million in revenue or funding and infinite drive and hustle,” according to Forbes.

The magazine accepts nominations and applications for the recognition, which is determined by some of the country’s top business and entrepreneurial minds.

Sauve applied for the list and had a feeling she was picked when representatives continued to contact her.

She found out she was part of the first class of 250 entrepreneurs in mid-February. For now, she is the only Ann Arborite to make it on the list. Moving forward, the remaining honorees will be announced in groups of 250 through the end of the year.

Credit: Blom Meadworks

“What I like about this list -- especially in Ann Arbor that’s so tech-centric -- it validates the way that small businesses can just make it through alternative methods and use some grit,” she said. “I like being a part of a cohort that looks and acts similar to me. It’s not pretending to do all those fundraising rounds and stuff. It’s: ‘We scraped by.’”

Sauve co-founded the architecture practice with partner Adam Smith while they were studying at University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

With a focus on combining the “built environment with craft and fabrication,” the two have made their mark in town, transforming local businesses with their clean, modern aesthetic.

Former clients include Duo Security, Llamasoft, Blom Meadworks, Spencer, YORK, the list goes on.

Synecdoche also specializes in furniture design, custom objects and spatial features that it makes in-house in its fabrication shop.

Credit: IVEY Salon | Synecdoche Design

Living by the motto “Do Good Work,” Sauve said the practice is expanding its charitable arm.

“It’s always just kind of lived as a motto and we want to formalize it in some way: supporting grants and fellowships, kickstarting creative projects that otherwise might not work for a business model, helping nonprofits,” she said.

A lean operation with five employees, architects Sauve, Smith and Sidney Migoski design projects remotely while design-makers Julia Hunt and Lindsey Sieja work in the shop.

Credit: Synecdoche Design

“Adam’s the only guy right now,” said Sauve. “It’s really nice to have two really strong and smart women in a fabrication shop.”

Named one of Detroit’s Best Retail Architects by General Contractors Magazine, Synecdoche has also begun to design for equity with clients, including the Aveda concept IVEY Salon in Ann Arbor. Most recently, it partnered with Bamboo Detroit when designing its newest location, Bamboo Royal Oak.

In just over a decade, Synecdoche has designed more than 100 projects nationwide and the studio -- and Sauve -- show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.