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Designers rock Eastern Market, stitch village of goods

Michael H. Hodges
Detroit News Fine Arts Writer

Detroit’s burgeoning reputation as a 21st-century design hub gets another boost this week with the fifth annual Detroit Design Festival, which runs all over town through Saturday.

Most activities are “for the trade only,” but there are several public events well worth attending — including Eastern Market After Dark tonight and a Detroit Design Village on Saturday.

Eastern Market After Dark runs 7-10 p.m. Thursday, with 40-plus shops, galleries and studios scheduled to stay open late.

“We’ll also be doing a live intractive, design experience in Shed 2,” says Ellie Schneider, interim executive director at DC3, the Detroit Creative Corridor Center that puts on the festival. “We’ll have designers live-decorating six Art Van couches, which will then be sold in Saturday’s design village.”

All proceeds, she adds, will benefit The Alley Project in southwest Detroit.

Hungry? There will also be a food-truck rally by Shed 2.

In need of visual stimulation? The Murals in the Market project will be just winding up, having produced about 40 new murals on walls all over the place, many of them illuminated for the occasion.

Fashion-starved? At 9:30 p.m., a fashion show is scheduled in Shed 3, as part of the the AIA Celebration of Architecture party. It’s free and open to the public.

On Saturday, a pop-up Design Village will materialize in an empty building west of downtown at 1700 W. Fort (at Rosa Parks) in Detroit, incorporating 26 international and local designers offering products for sale.

Among those are great-looking ties and scarves with Detroit themes designed and produced by artist Bethany Shorb of Cyberoptix TieLab — whose second-floor studio at 1440 Gratiot, across from Gratiot Central Market, will also be open during Eastern Market After Dark.

“The Design Festival is fantastic,” Shorb says. “For us, it signifies when fall hits and you need to refresh your tie wardrobe. Summer’s over, you’ve stopped sweating, and you can wear ties and scarves.”

Also at the Design Village on Saturday will be Geneva, Switzerland-based Raphael Henry, an architect behind the high-end design studio BrandStorm.

Henry, who’s done work for Shinola, will be bringing his new X-Pand table, a snappy design table that can expand or contract to suit a business’ needs — “Swiss design produced in Detroit,” as he puts it. (Detroit’s Great Lakes Woodworking does his manufacturing.)

For his part, Henry can’t wait to get back to Detroit,. He’s visited four or five times over the past several years and says he’s a big fan.

“I’m so attracted by Detroit, it’s incredible,” he says by phone from Geneva. “I see a great opportunity there for a company like mine to cross the ocean and come to Detroit and nowhere else.”



Detroit Design Festival

‘Eastern Market After Dark’

7-10 p.m. Thursday

Eastern Market, Detroit

‘Detroit Design Village’

10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday

1700 W. Fort (at Rosa Parks), Detroit