Industrial design: decor with an edge

Maureen Feighan
The Detroit News

Detroit may be the Motor City but Detroit Metal City may be just as apt.

The birthplace of Henry Ford’s assembly line and the automobile, our industrial roots run deep. Factories didn’t just churn out the products that helped define this region, they helped define us.

No wonder why industrial decor resonates with so many. This no-frills style mixes metal, leather, wood and brick into a style that exudes a type of tough sophistication.

But you don’t have to live in an old stove or auto parts factory to appreciate an industrial vibe or incorporate that style in your own home. Often, it’s about appreciating the history of industrial-style furniture.

“I believe it’s very versatile,” said Beth Domanik, the owner of N. Reding and Sons Vintage Industrial Uniques, which sells a range industrial-style furniture and decor in downtown Holly. “It’s functional art. These are conversation pieces. ”

Domanik says their customers come from all ages and backgrounds. And when customers learn the history behind the salvaged components they find, whether it’s from a farm or factory, that increase the excitement.

“This is what people get excited about,” said Domanik.

Still, industrial decor also is about taking that hard style – the old beams, the iron reinforcements, exposed brck and concrete – and playing it up, but also softening those edges.

Take the lamps that artist Joe Mazzola of Eastworks Detroit creates. Mazzola, a former member of the hit 1990s band Sponge, melds salvaged metal and plumbing parts to create one-of-a-kind lamps. Mazzola anchors each piece with an antique lamp base.

“I like the juxtaposition of coupling that (the lamp base) with the industrial,” he says.

And surprisingly, while you’d think his industrial aesthetic would appeal to men, Mazzola says most of his customers are women.

“People are interested in something that is functional,” says Mazzola, who grew up in Detroit and Mount Clemens.

Mazzola says there are a lot of similarities between making furniture and music.

“You can over-write a song, over-sing a song,” says Mazzola. “Sometimes simpler is better.”

A certain style

Dave Hudson also is a designer with an industrial aesthetic. He creates one-of-a-kind furniture, often from salvaged wood and metal. He makes dining room tables, consoles and more.

“I have always had a certain style to everything I build,” said Hudson in an email. “I guess these days its called industrial.”

Hudson, a metalworker for 22 years who also was a 3-D visual effects artist, started his furniture business in 2009. After years at Ferndale’s Rust Belt Market, he recently opened his own small showroom on Hilton Road, also in Ferndale.

““I use reclaimed wood, live edge wood, and fine finished hardwoods,” said Hudson, whose prices range from about $500 for a average size coffee table to $1,200 for a larger piece.

Nearly an hour north of Hudson Industrial is Domanik’s N. Reding and Sons. Started in 2015, the 3,200-square-foot store is named after Domanik’s great-grandfather, an immigrant from Luxembourg who moved to Michigan in the mid-19th century to capitalize on the copper boom. He ran two general stores.

Like Mazzola, Domanik and her husband, Jeremy, who makes much of the furniture and lamps they sell, rely on pickers to find many of the unique salvage items they use and then reinvent.

“We locally source materials from both historical agricultural, automotive and industry from all around Michigan,” says Domanik. “Each piece is handcrafted with an eye towards maintaining the original patina that shows how it stood the test of time.”

But industrial design doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing style. Cali Green, who with her husband, Jesse Green, owns a loft in Detroit that’s a 1920s building that once housed various graphic arts studios, blended in mid-century design because that’s what they like.

“Focus on clean lines in your big pieces (like the sofa, the bed, and the desk) and experiment with textures rather than patterns and a lot of color,” suggests Cali. “...Most industrial spaces tend to be pretty dark for the most part, so sticking with lighter tones will help with that as well.”

(313) 223-4686

Twitter: @mfeighan


Industrial chic: Where to shop

Detroit Artisans: 2141 Hilton Road, Ferndale. (248) 206-7595;

Eastworks Detroit: (313) 461-6642;

Hudson Industrial: 3259 Hilton Road, Ferndale. (312) 493-2197; hudsonindustrial

N. Reding and Sons Vintage Industrial Uniques: 109 S. Saginaw St., Holly. (810) 814-3321.

Restoration Hardware: 2800 West Big Beaver Road, Suite R-236, at Somerset Mall, Troy. (248) 614-6984