How to spend a day in Detroit like the city’s ultimate design-loving duo.
Six years ago, Alex O’Dell and Kyle Hoff founded the Detroit-based Floyd—a popular furniture brand you’ve probably seen an ad for on Instagram. Known for their stylish and intuitive design, the pair are pushing forward Motor City’s long-standing tradition of innovation, from the auto industry boom to Motown Records.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that a city with such artistic and industrially rich history has cultivated a modern design-forward culture.
“I love the city for its architecture,” says Hoff. “From a variety of Yamasaki buildings to Mies Van Der Rohe’s largest housing complex to a Saarinan designed campus, Detroit has some gems.”
Detroit, Michigan, along with being a majorly satisfying foodie destination, deserves appreciation as must-visit for any design lover. Just let Hoff and O’Dell be your guides—below, the pair shares their favorite places to indulge the city’s iconic aesthetic, from museums to restaurants to bike tours.
A Design-Lover’s Perfect Day in Detroit, Michigan
9:00 a.m. — Fuel Up
Kyle Hoff: Anthology Coffee is a great coffee shop in Eastern Market right off the Dequindre Cut bike path. Snag a latte there, they use small ceramic cups, which I love. It also happens to be right next to our shop. Astro in Corktown is a great spot for a quick breakfast. They have amazing egg frittata and the vibe is great for a chat or a casual run-in.
11:00 a.m. — Motorless in Motor City
AO: A bike ride up the Dequindre Cut and around Belle Isle—the latter is a charming 6-mile-loop. The island itself was designed in the late 1800’s by Frederick Olmstead, who also designed Central Park.
KH: The Belle Isle Conservatory is also a gem. Located on the island between Detroit and Canada, it has an amazing collection of plants from around the world. It was designed by Alberty Kahn, an architect best known for factory design. The conservatory is a great place to warm up in the winter.
If it’s a weekday in Detroit, I’ll often go for a stroll in Lafayette Park. It’s the neighborhood I live in and a must see for any architecture enthusiast. Built in 1956, it’s Mies Van Der Rohe’s largest housing project––it’s a mix of townhomes and high rises in a beautiful park full of trees. It’s gorgeous in any season.
1:30 p.m. — Refuel (Lunch)
AO: Rose’s Fine Food is the lunch spot. Be sure to top it off with a Wild Raspberry Crybaby.
KH: Ochre in Core City is a great spot to grab lunch and a midday coffee. It is a fantastic place to sit in the summer and they have a couple amazing, seasonal sandwiches.
3:00 p.m. — “Shop Around”
AO: Xavier’s is a great vintage furniture/objects store in Corktown. You just have to make sure to dedicate the time to dig through the collection to find the real gems. Xavier is the owner and incredibly knowledgeable—I feel like I’m getting a history lesson in design every time I stop through.
KH: Eastern Market is active all hours of the day because it’s an industrial food district; however, on Saturdays it’s an endless farmers market. Sometimes we’ll round out the visit with a beer and live jazz at Burt’s.
4:00 p.m. — Driving Culture
AO: Head to The Motown Museum. This is where Berry Gordy ran his studio, Hitsville USA, in the 1960s and ‘70s. Many legendary artists passed through those doors, including Marvin Gaye, who recorded “What’s Going On” there.
KH: The Detroit Institute of Art is a must, definitely worth checking out the Diego Rivera Detroit Industry Murals. You can literally spend hours looking at it and digging into its depiction of the rise of the auto industry. It’s especially moving if you catch live music in the court on Friday evenings. Stop for a coffee in Kresge Court, a relaxing hideaway at the center of the museum.
5:00 p.m. — Pump the Breaks
6:00 p.m. — If You Have More Mileage
AO: The Yamasaki Reflecting Pool. Designed by the famous modernist architect Minoru Yamasaki, this is a beautiful sculpture pool on the Wayne State University campus. A very peaceful spot for an afternoon.
8:30 p.m. — All Roads Lead to Dinner
AO: Maty’s—an incredible Senegalese restaurant. Get the mafee with tilapia!
KH: Selden Standard is my favorite restaurant in Detroit. It has an amazing vibe and an extremely pleasant patio out back. The food is fantastic and the menu is beyond fresh, always changing. In the summer, you can’t go wrong with a local salad, and in the winter, if the lamb ragu is on the menu, it’s a must. End with a homemade daily ice cream and an espresso.
10:00 p.m. — Pedal to the Metal
AO: The Raven Lounge. A Detroit establishment, one of the oldest blues clubs in the cities, opened in the 1960’s. Afterwards, head over to Pizzaplex in Southwest for a late-night bite!
KH: Check out some music in the evening at Motor City Wine. Cliff Bells is also a great spot for late night jazz and a drink. I also love getting a cocktail at Standby—it has a great vibe and good music. Watch out for a line. Lastly, you haven’t visited Detroit if you don’t go to Lafayette Coney Island and get a coney dog. It’s open 24 hours and a special experience.
Where to stay:
AO: Check out the Quonset Huts at Truth North—every so often one will open up on Airbnb!
KH: The Shinola Hotel is definitely the swankiest. It recently opened in a great location downtown––the bathrooms are top notch. Their hotel restaurant, San Morello, is also another great place to grab a bite. That said, if you want to visit more like a local, The Elmore Lodge in Midtown is perched on top of a sustainability focused coop. The neighborhood has great shops and restaurants.
What to know:
KH: Probably not to much surprise, the motor city unfortunately isn’t known for its public transportation. Biking is one of my favorite ways to explore the city. There’s a number of spots around town where you can rent a bike.
What to read:
AO: Your Town Tomorrow by Corinne Vermuelen. A beautiful book of portraits over a 10 year period that was recently published by the Detroit-based photographer.
What to Listen To:
AO: Detroit is a music city! Here’s a playlist of a few great songs by Detroit artists:
- “Paradise Valley” by Jay Daniel
- “Action Line” by Dorothy Ashby
- “Flowers” by Theo Parrish & Andrew Ashong
- “Sueno Latino” by Derrick May
- “Ruffin” by Black Milk
- “Day Dreaming” by Aretha Franklin
- “Love Theme from Spartacus” by Yusef Lateef
- “Runnin’ (Instrumental)” by J Dilla
- “GIOA” by Sterling Toles
- “Wild Life” by Donald Byrd
- “Thank U 4 Letting Me Be Myself “ by Omar S