Blog: Michael Doyle

Michael Doyle grew up in Royal Oak, studied industrial design at the Center for Creative Studies and is now an exhibit designer. He co-founded the DJ collectives Dorkwave and Dethlab, and joined the experience design agency o2 Creative Solutions. He is also a designer for Ann Arbor/New York based indie electronic label Ghostly International. He promises his blogs for metromode will be provocative!

Post No. 2

 Do it yourself, because:

a) Nobody is going to do it for you.
b) Nobody else will take the risk.
c) Nobody can do it better.
d) All of the above.

If you answered d, you may be from Detroit.

As much as coney islands, Tiger baseball and abandoned factories, the DIY attitude is part of the fabric of the city. Detroit doesn't follow trends and never has. We don't wait to see if New York or Los Angeles approve something first. We export innovation. We take risks that may not be financially viable, and we're not terribly concerned with what mainstream America thinks. We do what we believe in for all of the reasons listed above, and if our endeavors lead to traditional definitions of "success", then great. But the real reasons for doing anything are creative and spiritual satisfaction.

DIY has become a buzz term recently. There's a backlash against increasingly large and faceless global conglomerates. (Look to Philip Morris changing their name to Altira and Clear Channel naming their live music arm Live Nation in an attempt to distance themselves from negative connotations associated with the corporate brands.) Independent businesses and hand-crafted items are the new luxury not because they are expensive (which they're generally not,) but because they are personal. If I have the choice between buying a garment form an independent designer or from Macy's at the same price point, it's a no-brainer. There's passion and a story behind every independently created item you buy, whether it's a shirt, a beer, music, a piece of furniture or an evening at the theater. You're not just buying a product, you're buying into someone's dream.

Detroit has been DIY for a long time out of a survival necessity more than any spiritual or creative motivations. As the most modern city in the world, we were among the first to enjoy the success of the industrial age, the pain of it's decline, and the first deal constructively with the fallout. Those who don't do it for themselves either fail or are lulled into complacency - which is a temporary stop on the road to failure in an environment like this. The Midwest is known for it's work ethic, but hard work isn't enough anymore. We need to work smarter, not harder. We need to adapt quickly, be creative and lead - as we've always done.

The world is watching how Detroit will lead itself out of its current state. Casinos and stadiums certainly won't do it. A handful of motivated artists, record labels, urban farmers and small businesses won't do it, but the culmination of hundreds of thousands of people doing it for themselves will.