Michael Elwell

Photo of Michael Elwell
Michael Elwell (Mike)
Associate Professor and Area Coordinator of Product Design
(269) 387-2531
(269) 387-2477
1009 Central Kohrman Hall, Mail Stop 5213
Mailing address: 
Richmond Institute for Design and Innovation
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5213 USA
  • M.F.A., Industrial Design, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • B.F.A., Industrial Design, University of Notre Dame

Michael Elwell is the Director of the Richmond Institute for Design and Innovation and Associate Professor of Product Design at Western Michigan University's Gwen Frostic School of Art.

Michael is a designer, educator, and entrepreneur. Michael has a BFA in Industrial Design from the University of Notre Dame. Along with being the 2005 IDSA Merit Award Winner, Michael also won third place in the International Housewares Association Student Design Competition. His winning concept, a prescription pill container opener and label magnifier, is now licensed to Jokari, Inc. as the “Magnifying Medi-Grip.” The product also was an Honoree in the 2009 Design Defined awards and won Best in Category at the 2010 Housewares Design Awards.

Michael attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign on a Petullo Fellowship, earning a Master of Fine Arts degree in 2011. His graduate thesis, a safer infant crib, creatively utilized materials to reduce the chances of Sudden Unexpected Infant Death from accidental suffocation. He was honored with the 2011 Teaching Excellence Award, as his students won second and third place in the International Housewares Association Student Design Competition, and another was a Finalist for the International Design Excellence Awards.

Michael has wide-ranging professional experience, including corporate (at Radio Flyer and Coachmen), consultant (at the design firm Process 4), freelance, entrepreneurial, and academic. Michael is the founder and co-owner of Benefactory, a company that manufactures high-end gifts for the benefactors of charities, universities, and non- profits. His academic research focuses on emerging technologies and their influence on the barriers to entry for aspiring entrepreneurs.