Coir’s passion for local history was fueled by the family outings he enjoyed as a child in Detroit in the late ’50s. “I especially looked forward to visits to the Vernor’s bottling plant and the Wonder Bread bakery in Detroit and the cereal plants in Battle Creek because of the child-sized samples that would be handed out at the end of each tour,” Coir says. “I had to wait, however, until I was older to experience the adult benefits of a Stroh’s tour.” Perhaps it was the need to satisfy just such thirsts that compelled Coir to champion metro Detroit’s past, most notably at Cranbrook, where he led the heritage programs for nearly three decades. He’s collaborating with Susan Saarinen on a book about her family’s history. He writes about auto-baron mansions on page 74.
The inspiration for creating eclectic table settings (page 39) came while visiting several metro Detroit antiques shops. “I found that the fanciful 100-year-old china and glass pieces had similar lines to many contemporary patterns,” says Moore, who styled the brunch feature. “So why not mix and match? I asked myself. I wanted to show that hosts and hostesses can mix family heirloom pieces with their own contemporary place settings, so long as they work within a color palette.” Moore employed contrast for visual interest, combining metallic borders with handpainted florals to create a crisp tone for morning meals. She offers this tip: “Vintage plates are easy to stack atop new china, because antique plates are usually smaller.”
As a former auto engineer and part-time race driver, Witzenburg counts among his favorite pastimes testing cars to their limits on the track. Another is interviewing auto designers. “With virtually all new vehicles solid and reliable these days, interior and exterior designs are hugely important differentiators,” he says. “And these talented artists are passionate and articulate about their work.” Witzenburg has been writing about auto people, design, technology, the industry, and its products for national magazines and Web sites for 21 years and has written eight automotive books. “Any day on a race track or in a design studio is a very good day,” he says. “And any discussion with an auto designer is enlightening.” He did the latter for his story on page 62.
It’s often been noted that Detroit’s two most famous contributions to American culture are automobiles and Motown records, and longtime contributor Bak has them both covered in this month’s issue. One is a roundup of cars that once proudly carried the Detroit name (page 34). The other is a feature (page 44) on several overlooked artists of the 1950s and ’60s who helped turn Berry Gordy’s fledgling record company into the country’s most successful black-owned business, as well as the largest independent label in the world. “I found myself humming ‘Needle in a Haystack’ and ‘When I’m Gone’ for a solid week,” says Bak, who as a kid growing up on Detroit’s west side in the ’60s experienced Motown’s history in real time. His favorite all-time Motown songs? “It’s hard to choose,” he says. “Just about every one of them was great and still hold up today. But if I had to choose a couple, I’d say the Miracles’ ‘What’s So Good About Good-Bye’ and the Temptations’ ‘Since I Lost My Baby.’ ”