Color has the Ability to Inspire


I am currently working with Ford in a studio of mine this semester. I had posted about the overview of the class in January, and in that post, I mentioned I would update with progress reports if something interesting occurred. Well, I’m here today, sharing a snippet of my process and some good news!

My goal for the semester is to create a color palette to inspire Ford for the renovations that will occur over the next few years at their new Corktown, Detroit campus. One of the ideas that has permeated the conversations over the last few months, has been Ford’s desire to fully integrate within the existing community. More often than not, when a large company is creating a new campus, the plans are structured around a self-sufficient and free-standing area that is almost completely separate from its surroundings – whether that be residential or industrial.

Ford’s extensive and progressive goals are to create a campus – one of those buildings being the famous Michigan Central Station – that fit homogeneously within the Corktown landscape. One of the most inspiring things I’ve personally observed throughout this landscape, is the unique color palette. It is so unique, lively, and the colors permeate almost every inch of the community. My personal project and goal is to create a comprehensive Color Catalog throughout Corktown by compiling photographs from the area. All photos will be taken by myself – within the train station, and the neighboring streets. I’ve inserted a few from today’s shoot above and below. As you can see, the rusty oranges and warm tans, complemented by the minty greens and hazy blues, are already starting to pattern themselves out.

A color palette proposal will be created by color sampling from this catalog I’m compiling. My goal is to help give inspiration to Ford for upcoming projects so that the renovations directly assimilate colors from the community into the campus. Here is a piece of inspiration I found from a fellow student of mine. He directly sought out green in the Detroit area and created swatches that could then be used for the project’s final:


My goal is slightly different – I want to see what comes out of the cataloged photos. Instead of directly seeking out a specific hue, my mission is to shoot as many photos of color in the area as possible, and see what trends form by themselves. Especially in the light of these new renovations, the last thing I want to do is force my own voice, perspective, or motive onto the catalog. The colors will speak for themselves.

As Ford tries to integrate their campus within Corktown, incorporating the existing neighborhood colors into new buildings will help establish a more seamless and culture-appropriate approach. I received great feedback for my proposal during our pitch meetings today, and I hope my project fulfills a gap I think is currently missing in this new age of the Corktown landscape. Color is such a driving force within cities and communities and I am extremely excited about the prospects. Will update as more surfaces!

Corktown, Detroit

all photos taken are my own 1/22/2019

I was recently chosen to participate in a studio class with Ford Motor Company. The brief for our course was to document, discuss, facilitate, and develop the relationship between the Corktown neighborhood and Ford over the next 3-4 year span as the automotive mogul renovates and redesigns the Michigan Central Train Station. It has been a daunting task, being assigned the responsibility of preserving the history of such an iconic piece of Michigan history. Our class is only 2 weeks into the program, and quite honestly, we’ve just been throwing ourselves at the learning aspect of it all.

Today, the students were given a tour of the ground level of the building. I’ve seen photos before. I’ve had the urge to sneak into the station while it was in it’s abandoned stages. There is this certain energy around the whole thing. But until you are actually standing in there, your whole perspective is blown out of the water. I only captured a few photos today, because 1) I was freezing my butt off and 2) I was overwhelmed.

I can’t exactly share my wealth of knowledge (because I don’t have it yet) about the Corktown train station. I’m staying optimistic about Ford’s intentions and plans for the community. I believe everyone is optimistic about this prospect. I am not a native Detroiter (I’ve been in the city for about 4 years now so I have some first-person perspective) so I cannot claim that I’m an expert. What I will claim, is that I am more than excited — and nervous — to talk to the people who have been here for their whole lives; the transition this area will see in the next few years will be unbelievable. I will do my best to update you on our progress as a class. As for now, enjoy the few photos. And tune back for more!