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The man behind the guide: Meet Maxwell Tielman - INTERVIEW

blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

Buffalo’s social media scene was buzzing Tuesday over something a little bizarre: a Buffalo city guide created by a Master’s student from New York City for a blog called Design*Sponge.

While the thorough guide was clearly the work of someone passionate about Buffalo with a well-refined appreciation for art, we scrolled back to the top of the page to find the author’s name. As the Facebook likes—now at 859—and comments—now at 76—continued to billow in number, we kept wondering: who the heck is Maxwell Tielman?

After speaking with Tielman Wednesday night, the gregarious Parsons design student clarified why he crafted a detailed city guide. Raised on the West Side near downtown Buffalo—on Ketchum Place and Vermont Street near Kleinhans Music Hall—Tielman was brought up by parents active in the community through the Buffalo Preservation Coalition and the Campaign for Greater Buffalo.

Steeped in Buffalo’s arts culture—it doesn’t hurt when you’re a few blocks from Allentown—Tielman found his passions in photography, design and architecture while at City Honors and rolled to New York City for college at Pratt Institute. Over the past six years in New York City, Tielman’s love for Buffalo never lost its luster, as he travels home for holidays and often for stretches in the summer.


Through Design*Sponge’s pursuit of city guides under the “places” section of its website, Tielman embarked on an all-encompassing tribute to his home city, captured through photo and text. While most of the places in the guide are Tielman’s “own favorites,” he looked to other local connections in his Buffalo network for assistance, including fashionista Erin Habes.

“I’ve always loved the city [of Buffalo],” Tielman explained, “but it’s really exploded over the last three years. The rent is cheap and the art scene is awesome—it’s the ideal place.”

Seeking to unveil the causes of this explosion, the blog’s author broke down Buffalo into “sites to see, things to do, places to shop, where to eat, where to drink, where to stay and annual events.”

“[The guide] took me about two-and-a-half-weeks to complete,” Tielman admitted. “I thought the photography was going to take the longest, but I finished that in one weekend. Writing the blurbs and finding the contact info for each location was the most time-consuming.”

When asked what he was presently most excited about in Buffalo, Tielman made a surprising choice.

“I think one of the best things is the Midnight Bike Ride that starts on Allen Street,” he said. “Whenever I have guests in town, I make sure they do that. You get to see the city, realize how green it’s become and find out how tight-knit of a community Buffalo is. I haven’t found anything like it in New York City.”

This is a recurring theme we’ve found—talented individuals who grow up in Buffalo, leave for school or a job, but never lose their passion for the Queen City. The Rust Belt charm is awfully magnetic.

Follow Tielman on Twitter @maxigumee.

TAGGED: allentown, city guide, maxwell tielman, parsons design

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  1. Grace Bonney September 13, 2012 @ 5:48pm

    so happy and lucky to have such a great and talented buffalo native on our team at design*sponge :)

    Grace Bonney's avatar