French & Michigan started as a small, nameless design studio at a house located in the Southtown neighborhood of San Antonio. The house is situated in what is known to the local art community as the Compound. Sitting around a living room table, Director Billy Lambert led a team of students and graduates on design-build projects.
In 2012, the studio moved into a Spanish Mission style building on the corner of French Street and Michigan Avenue in the Beacon Hill neighborhood, which was owned by longtime client Jeffrey Dersh. Dersh had the team work on small renovations to the structure before deciding to rent the space out to the studio, which subsequently became French & Michigan.
In fall 2013, the studio expanded to open French & Michigan Gallery. Led by Curator Céleste Wackenhut, French & Michigan Gallery began representing artists, bringing in an inventory of artwork, presenting exhibitions, and publishing catalogues.
While the gallery continued in Beacon Hill, the studio moved back to Southtown in late 2014 to a 4,000 sq ft building known as Mario’s Automotive. The additional location allowed F&M to expand its operations further and open a workshop to begin fabricating its own designs.
After operating between two locations, French & Michigan moved all disciplines to one location at Mario’s. As of fall 2017, the building is undergoing renovations to house both F&M Workshop and F&M Projects. The original location at the Compound is now an architecture residency for graduate students.
French & Michigan is founded in the research of art and design. As a multidisciplinary space, F&M works to foster collaboration and redefine departmental practices through language and placemaking.
French & Michigan has two branches: F&M Projects, a nonprofit arts organization, and F&M Workshop, a design practice.
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Billy is the Director of French & Michigan. He received his Bachelors and Masters in Architecture from the University of Texas at San Antonio. From 2001-2008, Billy taught in the architecture department of the university. He previously worked at architecture firms throughout San Antonio including Curtis Wunderlich, PE; Sprinkle Robey Architects, Dixie Watkins III + Associates, Poteet Architects, and Candid Rogers Architect. In 2005, he began his own professional work and studio, which eventually became French & Michigan. Billy sits on the boards of Friends of Government Canyon and SAY Sí.
Céleste is the Curator of French & Michigan. She earned a Bachelors in Art History and Italian Studies with a certificate in Arts Management from Sweet Briar College, Virginia, and a Masters in Modern Art from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. She participated in programs and held posts at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Peggy Guggenheim Collection, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. After receiving her Masters, Céleste worked with the McNay Art Museum on research, exhibitions, and publications. In 2013, Céleste began French & Michigan Gallery and now leads the board and programs of F&M Projects. She also sits on the board of Sweet Briar College Friends of Art.
Nate is the Project Manager of French & Michigan. Nate earned a Bachelors in Architecture from The University of Texas at San Antonio. Nate previously worked at architecture firms throughout the region including Burton & Associates, 3D/International, Inc., Barbee Pratt, and Richard Mogas Architecture. Nate manages all building projects of French & Michigan with experience in new and existing residential and commercial including renovations, additions, and interior remodels. Nate sits on the Architectural Review Committee for the Tobin Hill Neighborhood Association.