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Detroit Institute of Arts, Public Programs


The DIA is among the top six museums in the United States, with a collection numbering more than 65,000 works of art. Centered on its mission to become a town square for the community, the DIA is committed to creating experiences that help each visitor find personal meaning in art, individually and with each other.

Detroit’s Design DNA: The1949 For Modern Living Exhibition — Legacy and Lessons

How can the legacy of Detroit’s past – its “design DNA” – inspire Detroit artists, institutions and civic/corporate 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 classically-styled Great Hall (totally transformed with nine fully-furnished modern-style rooms), For Modern Living marshalled 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 mutli-disciplinary design team, civic/corporate partnerships, and innovative exhibition displays — provides a model for Detroit’s design community today.

The lecture will include commentary by Detroit designers, including Detroit icon Ruth Adler Schnee (96 and still designing for Knoll Inc.), who is the only surviving For Modern Living exhibitor.

Photo Caption: Charles Eames exhibition room, showing the studded wall, display unit, Eames plywood chairs, and Eames La Chaise, For Modern Living exhibition, Detroit Institute of Arts, Detroit, MI, 1949. Photographer: Elmer Astelford. Courtesy Detroit Institute of Arts.

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#deborahluberakawsky, #detroitsdesigndna, #alexandergirardarchitect, #alexandergirard



Sunday, Sep. 15th


1:00 pm – 3:00 pm


Detroit Institute of Arts, Lecture Hall

5200 Woodward Ave., Detroit, MI 48202

Category: Talk