Art Hop 2016
At dPOP we are always searching for inspiration, seeking to connect with our city and ourselves to better define our purpose and our trajectory. So the team set out on our fifth annual Art Hop with the help of Isabelle Weiss, founder of NEXT:SPACE, a contemporary art and design representation firm in Detroit. We pulled back the brick and mortar curtain to find inspiration in every corner of the city.
First Hop **** Corbe Ceramics 611 W. Philadelphia
Corbe, a 2016 Hatch Detroit Top 4 Finalist, is a ceramics studio located in New Center and is owned and operated by Kaitlyn and Ryan Lawless. Founded in 2012 in Orcas Island, Washington, the dynamic duo moved their studio to Detroit, intrigued by the city’s possiblities. Thanks to an incredibly successful Kickstarter Campaign based on their Fifty United States Plates project―a collection of ceramic plates shaped like each state that fit together to create a 7 x4 feet display of the USA―they were able to open their Detroit studio in 2015.
Their porcelain wares are sleek and utilitarian, with an eye to midcentury design, small-scale production, and handcrafted methods. We wandered around their warehouse, watching employees mold ceramics by hand, oohing and ahhing at the rows of succulent planters, dusty black mugs and mint hued wine decanters. Ceramics are a great touch to an office space, and we were especially partial to their small plates, which are begging to organize desk accessories. The space also reminded us that adding plants to a work environment not only cleanses the air but also inspires creativity and reduces noise.
Second Hop**** Detroit ReMade 8737 Second Ave.
“Where most people see a pile of trash or a building needing demolition, we see opportunity.” ―Detroit Remade
We entered a warehouse full of odds and ends, piles of planks, worn-out humidifiers, beat-up coffee makers, rotary telephones; items one might find at the local Goodwill store and would never think to pick up. With a few more steps, we saw how this trash was literally turned to treasure. A useless cash register is now a one-of-a-kind lamp, a water heater from the 1940s has transformed into a self-lit bar, and a vintage safe was reborn as a wine rack. This is what happened to all the “stuff” left over when the buildings that were once occupied were vacated. Detroit Remade believes in the value of things others left behind. The experience was dPOP’s philosophy embodied. Instead of tearing down and starting over, we make use of the beauty that surrounds us.
Detroit Remade trains their community members in light electrical work, carpentry, painting and most importantly creativity. They are also responsible for clearing vacant buildings and cleaning up the debris in New Center.
[Just a bit of history: The historic New Center neighborhood was developed in the 1920s and served as a business hub because of its short distance to both downtown and outlying factories. Until 1996, New Center was a corporate campus and home to General Motors’ world headquarters. The area was intended as Detroit’s next great business center, until the onset of The Great Depression halted development. Last year, nearly a century later, Forbes named New Center “the next great hotspot.”]
After leaving Detroit Remade, the dPOP crew boarded the bus thinking of new ways to view our “junk”.
Third Hop**** Fringe Society the weaving studio of Levon Kafafian 1423 Holden
As the bus yawned right onto West Grand Boulevard, it slowed to a stop in front of a row of buildings once home to little shops that appeared long forgotten. Vacant lots neighbored the little stretch and wildflowers poked through cracked pavement. The silence aboard our 45-foot chariot implied we were all asking ourselves the same question: “Where are we going?” It turned out we’d already arrived, made apparent when Levon Kafafian swung open the door to one of those seemingly long-vacant buildings. We stepped over the threshold into a space exploding with life and color. Weaving looms large and small crowded the expanse of the room like a herd of motionless, cloaked cattle. Projects paused about their shoulders in Technicolor brilliance. Stripes, diamond patterns, hounds tooth and fringe strewn over furniture and hanging from the walls created a beautiful chaos that Levon calls a workplace, and a home.
Levon is an Armenian-American artist creating textiles and sensory work that explores the spaces between people, places and culture. The great thing about artist live/work spaces is that you can get a sense of the artist living their craft. It was easy to imagine what a morning must be like in this space: cup of coffee in hand, the morning light seeps through the yellowed transom, electrifying the otherwise invisible peach fuzz clinging to spools upon spools of woolly thread. Where one creates is an important aspect to what is then created. Surroundings have the power to inspire, which is why dPOP maintains that creative and inventive office spaces are so important. When Levon isn’t weaving, he is teaching. His studio, the Fringe Society, doubles as a community workshop focused on teaching his craft to the public.
Fourth Hop**** Simone Desousa Gallery 444 W. Willis St.
Our next stop took us to Midtown’s Simone Desousa Gallery, which is bisected into EDITION (a boutique toting contemporary and artfully imagined ceramics, jewelry and home goods), and a proper, white-walled gallery. The gallery’s playful open space is anchored by a caution yellow porch glider upon which perched a small pillow emblazoned with the words, “Enjoy the Ride,” the exhibition’s name. At the center, a collection of colorful fabricated potatoes form a sort of jelly bean ball pit. We were tempted to jump in with all the abandonment of an 8-year-old at the county fair.
A playful atmosphere, Desousa’s space allows the observer to imagine new functions for things we see every day. At dPOP, we believe every piece of Detroit has a purpose. With a bit of creativity, we can imagine new uses for all of what our city has to offer and add creative twists to items that ignite the imagination.
Fifth Hop****Studio of Joseph Konert 1406 Gratiot Avenue, 5th floor
-Image from Joseph Kornet
The last stop on our tour led us to Eastern Market, where a stark white studio full of floor-to-ceiling windows awaited us. We climbed floor after floor in a turn-of-the-century freight elevator, whose pocked wood gate door rattled all the way. With a sweeping view of Downtown and Eastern Market, the studio had enough spray paint cans littered the floor to cover one side of the Fisher Building. Joseph Konert is an artist who works on both canvas and facade, renowned for his large-scale work and long murals. He has a love for the metallic medium, and his art takes inspiration from butterflies, striped motifs, and textiles, all of which are studies in delicacy and movement in space. Art can transform a space. Investing in art for an office space instantly shifts the environment, providing color, texture, and depth and can uplift the environment, spark discussions and provoke emotion. Having arrived at the conclusion of our tour, we jumped back on the bus hungry for more exploration and were reminded of the rewards awaiting anyone willing to dig deeper for inspiration. Art Hop keeps our creative fire burning and also provides ideas to offer our clients for challenging the status quo of workplace design. If you are an artist located in Detroit and would like to share your craft with our team, please feel free to reach out!