Culture Lab Recap: Rumplestiltskin Runs Amok

The night before the public opening of Nora’s Culture Lab pop-up, the store hosted a wild bash to kick things off. If the Detroit Arterari is a thing, they were in attendance. The store was packed to the teeth with artists, business owners, green enthusiasts and overwhelmed introverts alike. Beyond not being able to see past whomever was directly in front of me, the first thing that struck me when I walked into Nora was the massive wall of golden hay that had been installed for the pop-up designed by New York artist David Stark. This wasn’t Stark’s first rodeo when it comes to pop ups, and he gave Nora a Rumplestiltskin worthy makeover.

Arduously making my way across the store, I was charmed by Stark’s installation which included a wheelbarrow and a brussel sprout stalk fit for Jack to climb his way up to a sleeping giant’s lair. While the installation had many nods to farming culture, it also had a distinct fairly tale quality that livened up the space. On full display were his beautiful pierced flower rests conceived in collaboration with Detroit ceramicist Victoria Ashley Shaheen. The pieces allow you to arrange stalks in whatever fashion suits you—from minimalist centerpieces of Bittersweet or wild bursts of eucalyptus.

Stark himself has said “when Culture Lab Detroit asked me what iconic material I would like to work with locally, of course I thought of clay. In this day of digital, I am ever more interested in the hand­made, and our ceramic flower rests with their pierced array of holes create flexibility for creatively arranged floral displays that can be at once spare and lyrical or lush and full, depending on desire. The rests put the structure that florists have historically hidden out front as an elegant, chic feature.”

In many ways, the Culture Lab Pop Up felt like the clay flower rests—filled with products that ranged from simple elegance (like the Lil Chef cutting boards) to the wild and unique (like the mutoscopes). What made the event possible truly remarkable was beholding the hard work of Detroit artists and makers in one room and knowing that it only scratched the surface of all of the creative work being done here in the city.

While the crowd made moving around the space a bit tricky, it was beautiful to see so many folks congregated and engaged in conversations about their work and the future on a Thursday evening. While the Culture Lab pop-up has officially left the building, Nora is still carrying many of the products designed for the event. Come by the shop and check them out in all their glory. We promise, there’s a lot more elbow room on a normal afternoon.

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