Detroit's Design DNA | The 1949 "For Modern Living Exhibition": Legacy and Lessons

How can the legacy of Detroit's past- its "design DNA-" inspire Detroit artists, institutions and civic leaders of today and tomorrow? Join art historian Deborah Lubera Kawsky to explore a watershed moment in Detroit design history: the 1949 For Modern Living exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary this fall. 

Centered on the DIA’s Great Hall, For Modern Living marshaled midcentury masters Alexander Girard, Minoru Yamasaki, Eero Saarinen, and Charles Eames to create a "new concept of beauty" for the modern era-- with a focus on design for the home.

More importantly, the exhibition – which employed a multidisciplinary design team, civic + corporate partnerships, and innovative exhibition displays – provides a model for Detroit’s design community today. The lecture will include recorded commentary by Detroit designers, including icon Ruth Adler Schnee, who is the only surviving For Modern Living exhibitor. A book signing will follow the presentation.

Deborah Lubera Kawsky received her Ph.D. in art history from Princeton University and serves on the board of Docomomo Michigan. Her current projects relate to Detroit art and architecture, and include her 2018 book, Alexander Girard Architect: Creating Midcentury Modern Masterpieces, published by Wayne State University Press. 

This event is an official part of the Detroit Month of Design 2019 program which takes place September 1-30, 2019. Programmed by Design Core, Detroit Month of Design is a citywide celebration of creativity that gathers designers and the greater community to celebrate Detroit’s role as a UNESCO City of Design.


Flat black logos for Detroit Month of Design 2019 and UNESCO Detroit City of Design

In partnership with Design Core Detroit.