Saturday, May 17, 2014

Detroit: the bankrupt city turned corporate luxury brand

Rose Hackman,

It's Friday night in the heart of Detroit at the Red Bull House of Art, a 14,000-square-foot underground art gallery carved out of the basement of a 19th century brewery. Thousands of the young, the chic and the smart have gathered to celebrate a new cycle of local artists’ work. DJ Erika is spinning, champagne is flowing. Outside, a line of people hoping to enter winds around the block.

Christopher Stevens, a good-looking 29-year-old car designer from California, is the host of the hottest after-party, in his loft above the brewery's back stairs. In the middle of the room casually rest two of his motorbikes, with a piano in one corner. Darko, the resident pit bull puppy, darts in between guests from one end of the room to the other.

“I love Detroit,” Stevens says, after declaring how depressing he finds the idea of suburbs. “Detroit is full of heritage and history. I came for its grittiness. It’s full of culture – old Americana culture.”

To Kirk Cheyfitz, CEO of New York-based advertising firm Story Worldwide, and a former Detroit Free Press award-winning reporter, companies coming to the Motor City for branding are “wrapping themselves around a mythology that is outlaw”.

“It is a safe way to be appealing to young people all over the country who embrace those kinds of feelings – of wanting to be outside of the mainstream while actually defining the mainstream,” Cheyfitz says. More here.

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