Designcities: Detroit

Detroit, MI — February 20-23, 2014

Designcities: Detroit

“Why do people always expect authors to answer questions? I am an author because I want to ask questions. If I had answers, I’d be a politician.”

Eugène Ionesco

“The world breaks everyone. And afterward, many are strong at the broken places. Those that it does not break, it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave, impartially.”

— Hemingway / A Farewell to Arms

Detroit represents a city in constant flux like no other on the American landscape. The tectonic shift of the city’s economy has created deep chasms in which artists and designers have found success in rare creative ventures. The DesignInquiry/DesignCity Detroit Winter Inquiry is a brief expedition by a small group of designers (in the broadest sense) into the design landscape. We will explore Detroit as a naturally emergent system of creative and cultural activities. Here design is both the system and cultural activity of study, and the method of exploration.

We see Detroit as a case study for learning more about sub-structures that emerge within larger structures that have failed and for observing and analyzing the ways that communities facilitate these new realities in response to change. All systems have balances of success and failure, ebbs and flows, positive and negative feedback loops that create equilibrium within their respective ecologies. Assuming we are all navigating the curve of a success/fail cycle, then what might we observe to be true for Detroit? How can we represent these findings and of what use are they to the ecology of the city itself?