Sep 14. 2011

Art is a Piece of Cake in Detroit

by Hélène

They’re young’n'beautiful. And no, they are not back from the beach! They prefer paper, ceramics, even or sepia ink to the scent of warm send. Two months ago, ten students from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit created a spontaneous workshop called the Chocolate Cake Design Collective. It’s in an old toys factory, right in front of a huge cemetery. The livings are rare encounters in this area of Eastside Detroit, which isn’t exactly a doll’s dream. The thing is,

if you want to create in the D you better do it in cold blood.

Most of those young artists are about to graduate, and some even already have a job (often in the design domain); they want to keep creating independently. In Detroit, it’s possible. 11,000sq ft, $500/month. From Paris to Brooklyn, which artist on earth wouldn’t dream about this? Each member of the collective pays $50/month for rent, plus $50 for utilities and another $50 for the shared expenses due to the workshop’s expansion. Together, they went to the auctions in Detroit and went over Craigslist listings with a fine-toothed comb to find oldschool tools for their workshop: a press, a little 1920s printer, a lithography machine. Once in a while, they also visit the abandoned schools of Detroit to grab additional pieces of furniture. Esther went to school in the “U.P.” (Upper Peninsula) at Michigan Technological University. She grew up in Northern Michigan, around Traverse City area. Like most of her friends, her roots are in Detroit. Her grandparents worked in Highland Park. This young engineer is now putting together the “photography corner” for the “Chocolate Cake Design,” the name of the collective. “Everybody loves chocolate cake, that’s why we named it this way!” Esther is part of the new generation who’s rediscovering “the D.” For her,

“Detroit is our common interest. We’re not all living here, but still, Detroit is the main theme that brings us together. This city has a really good vibe.”

Update: on 11/11/11, CCDC received the first Detroit Foundation creative grant. To view more photos of the Chocolate Cake Design Factory, visit the Flick’r gallery, here.


  • Gallery