Last Thursday, I attended a new event series by AIGA Detroit called Design + Business. The topic this night was Non-client based work. The discussion was led by a panel of experts, at this one we had Stephanie Tardy, from Handmade Detroit, Nina Bianchi, and Ryan Molloy. I think there were about 12 or 15 other people in the group, which was nice and cozy. We all gathered round, while each panel expert talked about their own work and design process, which lead into a group discussion about non-client based work.
All of them agreed that the best work comes when you start creating a need in the culture around you. Stephanie Tardy explained that Handmade Detroit started because her and her friends needed somewhere to sell their crafts. Nina talked about A People's Guide to Detroit made by the people, for the people. A collaboration with the Detroit Miscellaneous Society and Design 99., "... a collection of personal narratives and clipped entries based on individual experiences living here in the city of Detroit, bound together for ease of use and enjoyment. This is not a comprehensive guide to the city; instead we present a character study of the city based on personal experience. We offer our impressions of places that hold our interest, places that we'd like to share with you, perhaps where we would take you if you came to visit." (statement from Nina's site). Looking at it quickly, as it was being passed around the room, I learned about a collectable shop that has a large collection of records and porn magazines from the 60s! You would NEVER hear about that place in a typical guide, it made me want to buy it to read about other cool places to visit in Detroit. Ryan Molloy said he got the idea for his publication, Redaction when Emigre stopped featuring experimental design work. He decided to put out a publication that only features experimental design work and gives exposure to some great work. All of these projects were funded directly by the creator, but each project created something that was missing in our everyday life.
Listening to the three of them talk, I slowly realized how motivated they all were. I know what that feeling is like, and I think I lost a little bit of it from keeping the same routine everyday. I got it back that night and started writing tons of lists of projects I want to start AND finish! Nina made it sound easy, to just stay active, do something everyday that helps advance a project. I have a few old projects that need finishing, actually, one is so old that it might turn into a new kind of project haha. Either way, this stuff has to get done. I think sometimes people forget that if they are missing something, or if they wish something existed, they have the power to make it.
And, just like the last lecture I went to, I got to explore the building we were in a little bit and discovered a load of surprises! This D+B was hosted by Gyro Creative Group , in downtown Detroit. After the meeting, our host gave us a little tour of the building. The studio space is AMAZING. Beautiful hardwood floors with exposed brick and tons of artwork up on the walls. I learned that the room upstairs was the home of The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Fluxus Collection, one of the largest Fluxus collections in the country! (wow, I wish I took pictures!). There are still a few permanent pieces hiding in the nooks and crannies of the building. And speaking of nook and crannies, we got to see a classic fluxus wallpaper display. At the top of the stairs, there was a wall that was covered in wall paper. As you made your way up the stairs, you notice that its not wallpaper, its 11x17 sheets of paper, pasted on the wall to create a DIY wallpaper. THEN as you approach the top of the stairs, it becomes clear that the pattern is made of curves of a body...(closer..) Curves of a BUTT! the whole thing is a black and white photocopy of a butt. Not just any butt, but Yoko Ono's butt. Amazing. I wish I knew about this building while going through my Fluxus artist phase in college :)
What a weird discovery to realize the history behind the building I was sitting in for an hour talking about design and creation. I wonder how different the experience would be had I gotten the tour at the beginning of the discussion.