In the heart of Detroit’s creative and cultural midtown lies Nora Modern, a treasure trove of modern housewares, gifts, and accessories. The store was created by four friends looking for a way to change the tone of retail in Detroit. Together, owners Liz Boone, Toby Barlow and Joe Posch, and manager Michele Unverzagt offer Detroiters a unique source of thoughtful design — everything from stone and glassware, to timepieces, bags, and artwork. The Nora team has a saying: “We honestly don’t know what you want, but we have a store filled with things that we love, and maybe you will, too.” Sounds good to us. And speaking of sounding good, check out Nora Modern’s musical soundtrack in this week’s Playlist.
What do you listen to while you work?
Any music that helps make Nora a nice space to spend time. New stuff, old stuff, we really like to mix it up. Sometimes it depends on the weather or the time of day, but it’s never just mellow and it’s never just upbeat.
How do you listen?
On a portable speaker system that we can tuck out of eye shot in the store.
Do you have any favorite music websites/providers?
Honestly, it’s impossible to pick out just one or two!
Does music influence your work?
Music plays a role early in our creative process because we play music while we think about what we want to the store to be, and later on because we use music to help create the Nora environment. It’s kind of a chicken-and-egg thing — did this song inspire ideas that go into Nora? Or did what Nora is inspire us to pick this song? We haven’t really figured it out yet.
Where do you find music recommendations? Who influences your musical taste?
Boy, all over the place. We are lucky enough to get Canadian radio here so CBC Radio 2 is always great, as are the music shows on our own public radio station WDET (which broadcasts just across the street!). Michele, our store manager, gets a lot of music ideas through her husband Christian, and he’s a fan of eMusic. A lot of our music is recommended by friends.
Do you have Herman Miller pieces in your studio, home or office?
All four of us on the Nora team have Herman Miller pieces we love in our homes. We really have a deep appreciation for Michigan’s modern design heritage and Herman Miller is a huge part of that. We love that Herman Miller continues to operate here in Michigan honoring the classics and innovating with new products.
Ideal place to sit and listen to your playlist is the Eames Soft Pad Lounge Chair with tilt swivel in Divina Melange #220, a warm light grey. With ottoman, of course. It seems a little sacrilegious to do something other than leather but that Divina Melange fabric is, well, divine. It’s perfect for our mix because it’s so comfortable, and it lets you dream during the mellow parts and dance in your seat when it’s upbeat.
Nora Modern’s Playlist:
1. Sooner or Later, Slumber Party
2. La Belle et le Bad Boy, MC Solaar
3. Beat Control, Tilly & the Wall
4. Losing You, Solange
5. The Late Great Cassiopia, The Essex Green
6. Song for Zula, Phosphorescent
7. Like a Motorway, St. Etienne
8. Autobahn, KraftWerk
9. The Black Keys Work, Erlend Oye,
10. Tombé Pour la France, Étienne Daho
11. Redemption Song, Moodswings with Tanita Tikarim
Photos: Michele Unverzagt