written by:
July 8, 2014
At the Detroit shop Nora, find a mix of Japanese- and Scandinavian-inspired wares.
nora modern design shop in detroit, michigan

At Detroit's Nora, find a curated selection of modern housewares and accessories from local and international designers including pieces by Ferm Living, Kaico, Soma, and Artek.

1 / 4
nora modern design shop in detroit, michigan

The shop has an especially strong selection of tableware: glasses and utensils from Iittala, Hasami porcelain, and a bar board from Michigan designer Jose Regueiro are standouts.

2 / 4

Hugh Acton's Suspended 50-inch bench is an especially meaningful furniture piece for Nora's co-owners.

3 / 4

These linens are by Brooklyn-based designer Caroline Z. Hurley.

4 / 4
nora modern design shop in detroit, michigan

At Detroit's Nora, find a curated selection of modern housewares and accessories from local and international designers including pieces by Ferm Living, Kaico, Soma, and Artek.

In 2012, Toby Barlow, Joe Posch, and Liz Boone opened Nora in midtown Detroit (located to next door to another Shop We Love, Hugh).

nora modern design shop in detroit, michigan

The shop has an especially strong selection of tableware: glasses and utensils from Iittala, Hasami porcelain, and a bar board from Michigan designer Jose Regueiro are standouts.

Barlow sought to channel Detroit's design legacy, "It's a city with real history— industrial history, American history, racial history, music history, art history—but what was of particular interest to us was its design history," he says. "So many great designers have passed through this city. They designed automobiles, ottomans, arches, and playing cards. Then the designers were gone, well most of them anyway, off to glamorous places like Santa Fe, Los Angeles, and Grand Rapids. Some, including the automobile designers, remained, but the conversation about design in Detroit had certainly quieted down. It became little more than a fluttering page in a magazine, an afternoon 'like' on a Pinterest page, a set of plates unpacked from a Christmas box. So we thought we would blow on the spark of what remained and then put a log on that fire and then make an inferno that we could dance about like ecstatic Shakers on a hot midsummer’s eve, so that people would say 'Yes! Design! That City! Oh brother! You Gotta See This.'"

Michele Unverzagt, the store's manager who kindly answered our questions about the space, says, "As a team, we're all dedicated to the city. We believe in Detroit and have found a wonderful community that we enjoy being part of."

Nora

Address: 4240 Cass Avenue, Detroit, Michigan

Phone: 313-831-4845

Follow On: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest

What It's About: "Our inspiration comes from Scandinavian and Japanese culture. We're attracted to beautiful objects that can be used everyday and with each use, you appreciate them more and more," Nora's manager, Michele Unverzagt, says.

Philosophy: "We’re very much about having unique, interesting pieces, things that are well crafted, that have lasting value," Unverzagt says. "We've curated a space that engages our guests with delight and will provide a collection of beautiful products that you won't see elsewhere in Detroit."

Hugh Acton's Suspended 50-inch bench is an especially meaningful furniture piece for Nora's co-owners.

What piece currently for sale is especially meaningful? "The Hugh Acton Suspended Beam Bench is a special piece to Nora," Unverzagt says. "We were connected by a mutual friend and instantly fell for his designs. Hugh Acton is a modern renaissance man, nationally recognized as a furniture designer, artist, inventor, athlete, and philosopher. He's known for his metal and wood furniture benches and seating in the 1950s. The Hugh Acton Bench of 1954 had a large commercial success; the slat-wood and brass Scandinavian-style bench/coffee table was very popular and iconic for the era. After studies at Cranbrook, Acton worked in GM’s Technical Center. He then launched his own companies to produce his furniture, which included storage units and coat/hat racks, as well as tabletop goods. He sold both firms to Brunswick Corp. in the mid-1960s, but retained ownership of his more craft-intensive designs including the Acton Bench. We're very fortunate to have his beautiful pieces at Nora. I really enjoy sharing his work with our guests, their amazed at the craftsmanship and the fact that Hugh's continued to make his benches and jewelry."

Weirdest Question From a Customer: "Did you make all this product?" Unverzagt says. "I always find that funny because we carry a lot of product! I wish I had the talent to create such beautiful objects."

What was the first piece you sold? "A music box that played Moon River," Unverzagt says. "The music boxes are a guaranteed way to put a smile on everyone's face."

nora detroit tablecloths

These linens are by Brooklyn-based designer Caroline Z. Hurley.

How do you source products for your shop? "We find inspiration through our travels, our customers, design blogs, Pinterest, and Instagram," Unverzagt says. "We try to build good relationships with our guests and I've had many good recommendations from them."

Local recommendations? "Parker Street Market is a wonderful organic market located in West Village," Unverzagt says. "They have great customer service and always welcome you with a smile. Signal Return, a community letterpress print shop in Detroit's Eastern Market, sells well-printed and -designed original edition prints, focusing largely on the work of Detroit-based artists, along with Michigan artists. It also offers a selection of trade books by Detroit writers and poets, along with books inspired by Detroit. You can take workshops and attend many interesting events at the space. Supino Pizzeria, which is also located in the Eastern Market. Hands down, best thin crust pizza around! Charming small space with a wonderful staff. I highly recommend the Supino: roasted garlic, black olives, chili oil, ricotta, and mozzarella with red sauce."

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016