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. 3

I grew up in Detroit, spent five years living and working on both coasts and overseas, and chose to return. Everyone has stories about why they move here, stay here, or leave here. Most people who grew up here have talked (usually at length) of leaving some day. Many of our finest do move on, but many of those come back eventually. I'm curious about all of these stories, but the main question I pose for this piece is "why choose Detroit?"

In 2004 Detroit seemed to be in a full-swing revival. When I stepped off the plane that spring, there was more enthusiasm in this city than I had felt from 1972-1998 combined. We had a couple of very exciting years. More recently however, it seems as if the creative class is fleeing in mass and by any means possible. Certainly not everyone though. Some of our very best are in it for the long haul. I spoke with a few of them about why they choose to live and work in Detroit and how the city motivates them.

Jaron Rothkop, an industrial designer and innovation development consultant who has worked closely with the MIT Media Lab on a variety of advanced technologies and concept cars, is a Texas native who moved here to attend CCS. Jaron ran Lear's design studio in Munich for several years, but has pretty much been a Detroiter since the late 1980s - not just a Detroiter, but a very active member of the art scene, the business world and the community as a whole. He likesthe fact that, "At the base level, people in Detroit understand how things are made, that they are designed, fabricated, and put together by other people. The result is a very different culture than in places where the economy is based on moving money around, futurism, or crafting images. Here people understand product in their bones. I can have absolutely anything fabricated in this city. Not only can I find pressed machine bearings at 2AM, I can shop around for the best price. [There are] more resources than visions of how they can be used."

Nicola Kuperus, photographer, co-fonder of the band ADULT. and the record label Ersatz Audio is another CCS graduate who has put down roots here. Taking a brief break from renovating a historic home she owns with husband and creative partner Adam Miller, she says "It's not too big. It's not too small. There's room to breath the polluted air here. It's affordable and most of the people are real - it's not manicured like the suburbs." She dislikes the crime, the trash and the taxes, but enjoys the unique places, such as "Avalon Bakery, Eastern Market, Honey Bee Market, Belle Isle, [their] backyard, MOCAD, walking to the post office, the Fisher Building, Slow's and Northern Lights Lounge."

Kuperus and Miller have lived in the city ever since moving here from more remote parts of Michigan and Indiana respectively, and don't venture into the 'burbs often. When asked about how Detroit might be a better city to live in, Nicola responds, "It would be great to have a few more conveniences, like a Trader Joe's or Whole Foods. I think the city should have an official city exchange program with a country like the Neatherlands. We need alot more forward thinking here - building lofts, casinos and sports arenas just doesn't cut it."

Christian Unverzagt is co-founder of the multi-disciplinary design/ build firm M1/DTW,who have their studio in the Russell Industrial Center. Christian received his architecture degree at the University of Michigan, studied at the California Institute of the Arts and the Bartlett School of Architecture in London, and earned his masters from SCI-Arc in Los Angeles. Among their many print, building and installation projects, M1/DTW is perhaps best known for the design of Salon 6 in Royal Oak and Birmingham. Unverzagt says of Detroit, "The city (and the region) carry with it an amazing legacy. The efforts of many pioneering people literally transformed the world (for better or for worse.) The artifacts from those eras (20s, 50s, 70s, 90s) all co- exist and instill a sense of amazement and potential." When asked about how Detroit inspires his creative output, Christian says, "The underlying potential combined with an "off-the-radar" sense of expectation."