Detroit Month of Design

WeWork, Detroit, MI

September 2021

Courtesy of Design Core Detroit

I had the honor of participating in a video series created by Design Core Detroit called Amplify.

"Detroit Month of Design is an annual multidisciplinary festival that showcases the latest works and ideas coming out of Detroit every September. This year, approximately 30% of the 150+ designers participating in the festival identified as a person of color, which makes the Month of Design five times more diverse than the national design industry average. However, as unwavering advocates for inclusive design, we know that this is not enough."

Bill and his team at Octane shot this beautiful piece about me and my work after a whirlwind of press we got over the course of Sept from exhibiting Discard Detroit and the Mike Han Artist Edition Collection Ente SoundTiles which would go on to win a freakin award! More on that later.

But be forewarned, it will require mucho scrolling.

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WeWork in Midtown has a gallery that hosted Discard Detroit, a collaboration between Synecdoche Design, Ryan Southen, and me. There, we got to exhibit the collection in all its glory to the public for the first time.

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It included the three original pieces that we photographed in Hart Plaza, and one new addition, a Series 7 chair.

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The photo above probably should have been a picture of the Series 7, but it's not. It was the first chair pictured in the Amplify video, and this post is already a mess. Messy is fun! And confusing. Hmm.. messy isn't really fun, because confusing sucks. Sorry. I'm not changing the photo. 

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It was so awesome to present the furniture with Ryan's stunning photographs to contextualize the project. Detroit has such a rich design history, and many people don't know that it's the only city in America that's designated as a UNESCO City of Design.

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This image Ryan took with a drone is one of my absolute favorites. As soon as I painted the furniture, I knew this is how I wanted to present them. Worn and weathered furniture designed by icons of furniture design, Bertoia, Noguchi, and Bruer, who all have ties to Detroit.

 

Bertoia went to Cass Tech and Cranbrook, Noguchi designed Hart Plaza and the pylon in the center of this photo, and Breuer's Wassily chair was produced by Knoll (Florence Knoll went to Cranbrook and even worked as an unpaid intern under Marcel Breuer before studying under Mies van der Rohe at IIT (Mies van der Rohe designed Lafayette Park in Detroit, which is the largest collection of his work in the world)).

So many layers of Detroit design stuffs. So much so that I put parenthesis inside parenthesis. Is that allowed? Who cares. I can do what I want here :) 

Oh! And Breuer also designed a Library in Grosse Pointe. He's a bit of a stretch in terms of Detroit connection, but the piece was found at a garage sale locally, and was emblematic of the plight of so much of these worn treasures. 

But back to the photo that's so far above the text you can't see it or remember it anymore...

 

We created an intimate space to sit in a place designed to entertain hundreds of thousands of people in the middle of winter when the site was empty. Hart Plaza is worn and weathered, just like the furniture, and these giants of design are often overlooked in Detroit, and many examples of the furniture are unwanted collecting dust and being hawked at garage sales for next to nothing (like the Wassily). 

Discard Detroit is about giving these masterpieces new life by transforming them into works of art. The grit of Detroit isn't always pretty, but it's also what makes this place so special, and the MCM furniture is a great analogy for the city (under-appreciated) as this place was once exalted for it's innovations in the auto industry, music, and furniture. 

Detroit was a place that changed the world, and I believe it is rising again, and we'll see a renaissance here just like the Golden Age of Detroit, with an explosion of great art and innovative businesses that were forged during these hard times.

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Geez. This is getting super preachy. Enjoy some pictures for a bit.

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In the back part of the WeWork gallery is their lounge, and Leon Speakers and I utilized the space to unveiled the Mike Han Artist Edition Collection for Ente SoundTile. Low key flex: The speakers we collab'd on won a 2022 CTA Mark of Excellence Award for their Indoor Speakers & Subwoofers category.

You can buy the speakers and/or prints of the artwork from this series on Leon's website here.

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I'd be remiss if I didn't thank American Liquor and DJ Drew (sorry he's not in this photo), but they made the opening of Discard Detroit extra fun. This is before the shenanigans, I promise humans showed up :)

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I'm so grateful for Maria at WeWork for being the most amazing host for us.

 

Detroit Month of Design was amazing and I'm so grateful to have participated with my extraordinarily talented friends/collaborators.

 

Our projects led to a ton of press, including Cool Hunting, Architecture Digest, CULTURED, The Design Edit, and Stir World. 

If you made it this far, I'll let you in on a little secret. Next year, er... this year, I'm planning on doing a show for the Detroit Month of Design on Yamasaki blueprints and present them in a Modernist building in downtown Detroit that was completed one year after Yamasaki's building at One Woodward Ave (the precursor to the original World Trade Center).