Being the maker aficionados we are here at The Makers Nation, we can never turn down the chance to explore a city full of amazing makerspaces. When the opportunity presented itself for us to venture to America’s urban decay and regeneration capital, we didn’t hesitate to say yes. Detroit is a sparsely populated city showcasing a rare juxtaposition between extreme poverty and economic decline with some of the most beautiful classic architecture and painted wall ads in the country. No matter where we went, there was an overwhelming sense of being on the edge of a city crumbling from earth. However, the residents of this seemingly downtrodden city are nothing but warm and welcoming. We discovered the adage ‘Detroit Hustles Harder’ and saw firsthand how that mantra has been ingrained in the minds of people in the D and is especially true of the creative’s of Detroit.

We decided we had to visit the revamped Ponyride building, a warehouse experiment that explores how the foreclosure crises can impact positively on Detroit’s communities.  At a staggering $0.20-$0.25 (ult. inc.) per square-foot, Ponyride offers space where artists and entrepreneurs can share resources and ideas.  We went to check out Smith Shop, an artisan metal shop and jewelry studio founded in 2012. We were amazed by the restored industrial era looking machines that make up most of their equipment. We also decided that Smith Shop must have just about the biggest collection of hammers on earth.  Co-owner Gabriel Craig gave us an awesome and detailed tour of each segment of the space, which included blacksmithing, welding, workbench and metal forming areas. They make anything from jewelry to architectural blacksmithing and are currently working on a commissioned project restoring an intricate iron railing for a local 1890’s Brownstone.

SmithShop

Inside Smith Shop: each anvil is named after a staff members’ grandmother

Next, we headed to the charming Eastern Market to check out resident hackerspace Omnicorp Detroit. Started in 2009, Omnicorp sports 20 members hailing from different skillsets and more work areas than you can shake a stick at. There are facilities for lasercutting, 3D printing, music production, letterpress printing, sewing, and various workbenches; a spray booth, pottery studio and 3D sound room. Our guide and Omnicorp member Radu Marginean works for Paxahau, a really awesome Detroit music events company that puts on Movement festival, and has a very passionate fish blog. Radu told us that most of the equipment, save for maybe the laser cutter, was donated. More continues to be donated as the space collaborates with different companies and institutions, such as MIT and Redbull.

Inside Signal - Return Press's shop. And a look at an immersive art installation used for Omnicorp Detroit events

Inside Signal – Return Press’s shop. And a look at an immersive art installation used for Omnicorp Detroit events

If you’re in the city, Eastern Market is a must. We discovered the market itself with many local artisans and farmers, the Division Street Boutique and Signal-Return a studio and shop entirely dedicated to letterpress printing.  We also developed an affinity for Corktown through the Brooklyn Street Local, a restaurant founded by two Torontonians. Everything they serve is local and organic, and most of it is sourced from urban farms like Brother Nature Produce.  We feel as though the maker movement is so naturally suited to  Detroit and we only touched part of the scene. We look forward to our next venture where we will check out Mt Elliot Makerspace, Wallace Detroit Guitars and TechShop. Big thanks to our hosts, we’re so excited about your future projects!