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Detroit design heads to France for the Saint-Etienne Design Biennale

O.N.E. Mile community meeting, with the Mothership
Photos Courtesy of Akoaki

A couple months ago, we told you about the Detroit presence at the French Design Biennale, which runs March 9-April 9. Building on its UNESCO City of Design designation, Detroit is the guest city of honor at the Biennale.

The theme is the Future of Work and more than 60 Detroiters will attend the event to present, perform, and connect with the global design community. This includes city officials, independent designers, large companies, artists, and urban farmers. Many participants have never traveled outside the US.

One neighborhood that will have a large presence at the Biennale is the North End. Groups traveling to France for the Biennale include Akoaki Architecture and Design, Detroit Afrikan Music Institute, O.N.E. Mile, and Oakland Avenue Urban Farms. The collaborative effort between these groups will culminate in an exhibition called "Out of Site."

“We are excited to be a part of the Saint Etienne Design Biennale representing Detroit, said Anya Sirota, principle at Akoaki. “Our exhibit ‘Out of Site’ is a set of three design installations that show how form and form-making can signify something meaningful in an urban space.”

The Mothership in the O.N.E. Mile garage

The exhibition’s installations include a design sculpture representing once prominent Detroit African American music venues the Phelps, Apex Bar, and Blue Bird; the “Mothership,” a futuristic designed spaceship inspired by George Clinton and his alter ego Dr. Funkenstein of the funk group Parliament Funkadelics; and an institutional arch made of interlocking pieces of Detroit architecture, elements of contemporary arts, famous costumes, and flora.

The three exhibits are being shipped and will be assembled in the courtyard at Saint Etienne. Sirota says, the exhibits will be activated with music and programming around Detroit.

Saint-Etienne has been a UNESCO City of Design since 2010 and it’s known for its relationship between art and industry. The one-month Biennale takes place every two years and attracts more than 230,000 visitors from around the world.