Ferndale resident Kaiser Suidan founded Next Space Ferndale, a local, multiuse art gallery and event venue.
By Ri’An Jackson
Ferndale resident Kaiser Suidan says owning and transforming a block in his city into his home, a gym, and a modern art gallery — all “just happened.”
Upon graduating from the College for Creative Studies in 1993, the ceramicist says he anticipated becoming a professor.
Instead, he moved from studio to studio until 2004 when he found a building — formerly a garage — at 530 Hilton Road that he transformed into his personal studio, Next Step Studio.
“(My first show) was crazy,” he says. “We were overflowing the parking lot. I really had no idea that the word had got out.”
Yet he didn’t know the studio would become his home. Throughout six years, Suidan gradually bought and renovated the neighboring buildings into a cohesive space. He built his home and workspace — both filled with brilliant sculptures — to connect with the gallery.
“It all just kind of makes sense,” he says. “I’m always here.”
But, he wanted more. He wanted to find a use of the new space that would attract more people, and Next Step underwent three renovations to make it happen.
Forming his brand — Next Space Ferndale — Suidan made his studio a swanky hub for the community. He allows the public to rent out the space for events and handpicks local artists to feature in the gallery, officially named Next Step Studio & Gallery.
“It’s a meeting place for people,” says Williamston artist Mark Chatterley, 62. “They can relax and not feel the pressure of buying artwork…and if something stands out then they can purchase it.”
It’s industrial and chic, modern yet cozy — with a full kitchen, Zen patio and contemporary artwork decorating the walls. It has been used for everything from wedding receptions to wine tastings.
“It is his vision 100%,” says Ann Arbor artist Graceann Warn. “He has a really good eye for art as well as design. The look of the gallery is strong and cohesive because he is the sole curator, and he is very sure of his own taste.”
For Suidan, Next Step is also about reaching out to the community and uplifting local and aspiring artists.
“The reason it’s ‘Next Step Studios’ instead of my first and last name is because I take these students and help them develop their careers,” he says. “…I want to help young artists that a lot of galleries won’t look at. I don’t care if I sell anything. It’s just to get some exposure and a head start.”
Next Space Ferndale
530 Hilton Road, Ferndale