Anecdoted City

ANECDOTED CITY is a crowd-sourced collection of objects of Detroit. It is an exhibit that acts as an archive, which the public lent objects to during the course of the show. The show opened as an empty archive, comprised of the tactile objects of an archive; tables, display space, custom tags and pens, and instructions on how to engage the space. The show was part of the 2012 Detroit Design Festival. 1/X (Sara Dean, Mary O'Malley, Melinda Rouse, and Jono Sturt) produced the space and outreach for the show. The tags and outreach material was produced by our host and collaborator, Salt & Cedar, in their letterpress studio.

Anyone was invited to submit an object 'of / by / from the city' to them. The items ranged from personal attachments, to daily rituals, to anecdotal associations, to favorite spots, to personal memories; they were be objects that you come in contact with in the city lovingly or without notice.

The show aimed to engage the city of Detroit beyond the absences of the city; we aimed instead to represent the things that existed in the city. Some of these were historic, and some were contemporary. Throughout the duration of the show people stopped in, told us stories about the objects, about objects they would add, about the city and their lives. It was a joyful, friendly scene. We were surprised and overwhelmed by the turnout and participation the show received.

This crowd-sourced show was primed by a sense of digital engagement that we have socially, but the show was intentionally tactile. The tags and flyers were letterpress and hand stamped. The tags and cards were filled out by hand. The objects were delivered and processed in person.

location Detroit, MI
date 2012


Designer Sara Dean
Designer Mary O'Malley
Designer Mindy Rouse
Designer Jono Sturt
Printer & Collaborator Megan O'Connell