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Discard Detroit

Hart Plaza, Detroit, MI

September 2021

The re-release of MCM classics well past their prime. Fanfare and celebration of expired objects through their transformational rebirth as fine art.

The collection is established by a multidisciplinary team in Detroit (artist, architect, photographer) working with objects connected to the region. These furniture pieces are pervasive in the region because of Herman Miller, Knoll, and Cranbrook Academy of Art which could be argued as the birthplace of Mid-Century Modern. 


These iconic examples of MCM design hold court inside museums like the MOMA, but many of these objects have been used, loved, and worn over the decades inside homes as beloved furniture. When the leather is stretched, the seams burst, and the metal is tarnished, the team reimagines value for objects past their prime.


Through a new perspective these expired objects are an active palimpsest - new art on weathered furniture. The uniqueness of their vintage qualities and original art elevate the value beyond the price of newly manufactured pieces as their value isn’t determined by initial quality, but by the irreplicable story of circular art & design.

The Collection

Wassily Chair

Harry Bertoia developed wire frame techniques at Cranbrook which would become known and loved all over the world. He graduated from Cass Tech in Detroit before studying at Cranbrook, and his iconic chair is produced by Knoll, Inc. This particular chair has been very well loved by Synecdoche Design’s founder, Lisa Sauve’s mentor. Lisa was given three original chairs and leather pads and she saved the worn pads to have replicas made using them as a template. Lisa has provided one of these chairs for the Discard Detroit collection. 

The Wassily Chair is designed by Marcel Breuer and is manufactured by Knoll Inc. Knoll was founded by Florence Knoll, who was an influential designer from Michigan and attended Cranbrook. This original Wassily was found on Craigslist and purchased for $20 from a couple who inherited the piece unaware of its origins and value. It sat in a storage room collecting dust and disappeared from view as other items piled on top such as clothes to be donated and golf clubs. 

Bertoia Chair
Noguchi Table

Isamu Noguchi, a master sculptor and architect, is well known for his Noguchi Table which is manufactured by Herman Miller, a Michigan company. Noguchi is lesser known for his largest project, Hart Plaza, in Detroit. This was the site where the collection was first photographed. This Noguchi Table entered the collection as the original owner moved to a new home and it did not fit within their interior design scheme. This table, no longer having a place inside the home, was given to Lisa who has been a steward of unwanted MCM furniture. 

Barcelona Chair

The Barcelona Chair was designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. He also designed Lafayette Park in Detroit, which represents his largest collection of buildings in the world. This chair comes from the basement of a Mies van der Rohe townhome in Lafayette Park, stored away after reimagining the space it once inhabited. Upon painting the chair, it was discovered that one of the pads is original, but the other is a replacement. It is inferred that the second original pad was replaced due to damage while being used.


Artist Bios

Mike Han is a Korean-Detroit artist, designer, and modern vandal. Mike is a Cheongju Han, a Korean royal clan known as House of Han, whose history dates back over 1,000 years. Mike is the first born in America on his mother's side, who immigrated into Detroit’s Cass Corridor in the early 70’s. Mike work is inspired by Korean calligraphy, graffiti, and modern design. His artistic practice is burdened and bolstered by the understanding that in order to create, you must destroy. With this ethos, Han categorizes his work as Modern Vandalism, a mindful act of destruction in an effort to create value.



Ryan Southen has traveled the world pursuing his passion: capturing people and environments. In particular, Ryan draws viewers into moments of easy intimacy in his portraits, and introduces his audience to lesser-known artistic feats in Detroit, MI and far beyond. Ryan cares deeply about forming lasting relationships with his clients, which translates into creative shoots, painstaking editing, and striking finished products. Ryan has delivered high-quality commercial images for large businesses, foundations, and architecture firms throughout the Midwest. Despite becoming an award-winning photographer, Ryan wants you to know that he's a true Midwesterner (read: friendly and approachable).



Synecdoche Design Studio is an award winning design-make architecture practice with studios in Ann Arbor and Detroit, MI. With projects ranging from architecture, interiors, furniture, installations and objects; the woman-owned design studio, led by founder Lisa Sauve, merges the built environment with craft and fabrication. The office focuses on making badass spaces that work for business and is dedicated to their motto of Do Good Work by supporting community projects and creative partnerships.


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