Posts by Nick Tobier
Collaborating with students from Detroit Community Schools
Last fall, I taught the first of what I hope is a regular class and partnership between the School of Art & Design, the Center for Entrepreneurship, and a community school in the Brightmoor neighborhood in Detroit. The class uses the principles of human centered design to develop art and design projects that will impact the community in a positive way.
Let me try to give a concrete example to illustrate the meaning of human centered design and why it is essential for a collaboration like this.
Think of an object you use habitually—a chair, shoes, a wallet. Each of these has a recognizable and designated function. I don’t know about you, but my wallet doesn’t always work for me, and so I stuff receipts, bits of paper, business cards and other ephemera in my more capacious pockets. The chairs, they’re OK, but I find myself, like right now, sitting on the floor....
Politicians Get Creative
Michigan Senator Hansen Clarke was on the radio yesterday, talking about his childhood on Detroit's Lower East Side first, and then about his education as a painter at Cornell University. Clarke offered an interesting take on his governing style as influenced by his fine arts background. Using both concrete examples and useful prompts a good drawing teacher would suggest, Clarke talked about seeing a big picture to understand how it is organized as a whole--conceptually and as a composition, an interest in thinking abstractly, and a willingness to engage in giving form to new ideas.
As we think about artists and creative visions for Detroit, I thought Clarke's words were well placed and reflected on two artistically inclined politicians who have used their creative backgrounds to shape their policy and their cities.
One is former 2-term mayor of Bogota, Colombia, the...
Following the shifting names of Detroit's Creative Spaces
Yesterday I had the opportunity to spend time with Juan Martinez, principal of Ceaser Chavez Academy on Waterman Street in southwest Detroit. Juan had grown up in the neighborhood, and we got to talking about his favorite spots from childhood, and how many of them are still around--Duly's Coney Island on West Vernor and the Holy Redeemer Church on Junction-- and what makes a great neighborhood. He noted this past Sunday's feature Detroit Free Press article by John Gallagher, Southwest Detroit, Midtown thriving, which I'd highly recommend (along with John Gallagher's book, ReImagining Detroit )
Ice Cream vendor, Hubbard Street, Southwest Detroit
Among the topics that come up in these discussions are themes of new use--urban agriculture, artists' work space--and along with those questions about displacement of existing communities and the interplay between...