Collection of Saarinen Tulip Side Tables at TOM GIBBS STUDIO.

Collection of Saarinen Tulip Side Tables at TOM GIBBS STUDIO.

Did you know American Modernism was born in Michigan? To celebrate this iconic design legacy of our region, TOM GIBBS STUDIO partners with NEXT:SPACE for a year-long program focusing on the past, present and future of furniture and object design in Michigan.

Michigan Design Icons is a celebration of our design history, but also a platform for shaping the future of furniture and object design in Michigan.

Michigan Design Icons is a celebration and a dialogue for everyone – to foster awareness, pride and support for the important furniture design born in our region.


Register for the MDI Mailing List for updates, invites and more...


As part of Detroit's Month of Design, NEXT:SPACE +TOM GIBBS STUDIO introduced SHAPE: Defining Furniture in Michigan's Design Legacy, an exhibition and design talk series exploring the past, present and future of furniture design in Michigan and Detroit.

Curated around five distinct practices of good design, the series features original, mid century masterpieces from icons such as Charles & Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen and Florence Knoll alongside contemporary design from Detroit-area designers represented by NEXT:SPACE.

Join us October 2018-February 2019 for design talks and presentations of the SHAPE Collections curated around each design practice.

SHAPE is part of the Michigan Design Icons series.

See our schedule below.

OCT 25 | Material Experimentation

Join us with NEXT:SPACE and contemporary furniture designers Elizabeth Leah Born and Mario Francois Isenmann of zuckerhosen in a discussion of material experimentation and the role it plays in the evolution of furniture design - past, present and future. 6:30-8:30p @ TGS

NOV 15 | Meat + Potatoes

What do meat and potatoes have to do with furniture? Come found out in our discussion of staple and heirloom furniture and the changing notion of what constitutes a furniture ‘staple’. Join us with NEXT:SPACE, Kyle Huntoon of Hunt & Noyer and other guest speakers. 6:30-8:30p @ TGS

DEC 13 | Finding New Forms

 6:30-8:30p @ TGS

JAN 24 | Intelligent Minimalism

 6:30-8:30p @ TGS

FEB 21 | Technologic

6:30-8:30p @ TGS

SHAPE: Mid-Century Design Catalogue


JAN.09 | Naked Icons: Beneath The Surface of the Womb Chair

Learn about the history and fabrication of the iconic Womb Chair. Designed by Eero Saarinen and released by Knoll in 1948, the organic lounge chair is an enduring symbol of Michigan’s history of innovative furniture design. 5-9p @ TGS


FEB.06 | The Anatomy of ‘Eames’

Discover the complete catalogue of infamous husband and wife design duo Charles and Ray Eames from a leg splint to the iconic 670 Lounge Chair. 5:30-8p @ TGS           


MAR.06 | Foreign Exchange: International Influence and Michigan

The legacy of Michigan design goes beyond, well, Michigan. Throughout the 20th century international design influence has gone in and out of Michigan, from the influence of the German Bauhaus and Mies van der Rohe on Michigan Modernism to to the influence of Michigan designers on the rest of the world. 5:30-8p @ TGS


APR.10 | A Story of Gilbert and George: The Legacy of Herman Miller

Herman Miller, the Zeeland, MI – based manufacturer of office furniture and home furnishings produced some of the most innovative designs of the 20th century and made icons out of architects, engineers and designers. Learn about two Herman Miller directors that helped change the face of furniture design and manufacturing in the mid 20th century, Gilbert Rodhe and George Nelson. 5:30-8p @ TGS


MAY.15 | Florence Knoll: A Woman of Her Own Design

In honor of Florence Knoll’s 101st birthday, we will discuss the life and achievements of the first lady of mid century modern innovation and design – who just so happens to be from Saginaw, MI.  6:30-9p @ TGS


JUN-AUG | Topics in Contemporary Design

Beginning in June 2018, MDI Design Talks will shift emphasis to examine contemporary design, especially focusing on designers working in and around Detroit, MI. Dates for the summer program will be announced in late-February.


The culmination of Michigan Design Icons will be a juried exhibition of mid century and contemporary design. The exhibition, Shape: An Ongoing Legacy of Michigan Design, will feature a curated selection of original mid century masterpieces and furniture from contemporary Michigan designers. Shape will open in September 2018 as part of the Detroit Design Festival and examine design innovation throughout time, paying special attention to form, materials and concept. Design talks will continue through 2018 with an emphasis on the content of Shape.

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