Randy Rubin, co-founder of Michigan-based textile firm Crypton, toured the Heidelberg Project with the editor-in-chief of Interior Design magazine, Cindy Allen. While two different Lutheran Synod tour groups (in matching jewel tone t-shirts) walked the grounds of the east side folk art environment created nearly 30 years ago by artist Tyree Guyton, Rubin and Allen arrived via luxury motor coach with a full camera and video crew. Heidelberg, still recovering from a series of arsons that began in 2012 and that seems to have stopped after the nonprofit installed a series of solar cameras, is home to art created of found objects, including many discarded pieces of furniture and other home goods. Today's visit centered on an ordinary dining room chair at the site whose long-enduring Crypton upholstery is prominently featured in a full page ad in Interior Design's 2015 spring market tabloid.
Rubin and her husband launched Crypton in 1993, hoping to create an environmentally responsible textile brand. The company's trademarked and patented Crypton fabric sells primarily to institutional clients like hospitals and government agencies—key markets when the material in question is marketed as resistant to stains, moisture and odors. A chair donated to Heidelberg Project more than five years ago coincidentally had Crypton fabric upholstery. While the chair weathered countless rain storms, Michigan snowfalls, and even the semi-permanent attention of a now-deceased (but still beloved) feral cat Heidelberg Project staffers nicknamed "Heidi," it's upholstery has endured. The fabric is the only viable part of the chair, in fact—the frame is bent and broken, and all the chair's wood structures, permeated by rainwater and snowmelt, have warped beyond repair. The Crypton ad's tagline is that their upholstery "outlasted the chair frame."
Allen, in town for a tour of the city sponsored by Crypton, joined her host, Rubin, and Heidelberg's founder, Tyree Guyton on the street in front of Heidelberg's central dot house to discuss Detroit's fortunes, and Guyton's artwork. Guyton, who Rubin described to Allen as "the owner" of Heidelberg Project, told these visitors he's preparing for a gallery show at the University of Michigan and a second show and tour in China set for this November. Allen asked Guyton if local people bring him the discarded objects—shoes, clothing, stuffed animals, even an old taxicab chassis—he's transformed into the sculptures and other artwork installed at Heidelberg.
"People bring me things from all over the world," he told her. Allen asked about Guyton about his ideas for saving Detroit. "How do you resurrect a human soul? You've got to do something to touch it," he told her. Then Guyton quoted JFK's famous "ask not what your country can do for you" line and gestured to his work. "I decided to stay here," he said. Interior Design's July edition is on stands now.
·The Heidelberg Project [Heidelberg Project]
·Homepage [Interior Design]
·Charred Heidelberg Project Still has Plenty of Impact [Curbed Detroit]
·Crypton fabric [Crypton]
·Art and Arson on Detroit's East Side [Airship Daily]