Find blasts from the past at ModMart Detroit.
By Matthew Totsky
Photography by Brett Mountain
Michigan has always been a hotbed for mid-century modern enthusiasts, people hip enough to appreciate quality furnishings made with natural materials, designed with free-flowing forms and covered in contemporary patterns.
When ModMart Detroit opened in November 2015, you could almost hear the clinking of cocktail glasses from fans of functional comfort and chic style making a collective toast to this sprawling 2,000-square-foot showroom dedicated to mid-
century modern in Clawson.
ModMart Detroit aims to be the area’s premier upscale resale and consignment shop for rare, top-quality home furnishings from the 1950s through the 1980s. The masterminds behind ModMart pride themselves as having the only design center in the area that can meet all of your modern needs, including on-site experienced wood refinishing, fabric sourcing and reupholstering, and custom glass replacement. Additionally, owner Loren Weiner works with clients to customize ethereal light sculpture installations for their homes.
“I’m a self-proclaimed trans-decadist,” Weiner says. “That means I live my life as a person from different decades. I didn’t really know why I fell in love with this design style, but I’ve always been drawn to it. I love the simplicity of Danish Modern furniture and the quality and ingenuity of how these pieces were made.
“I like to surround myself with things that make me happy,” she continues. “I’m not necessarily looking for labels or designers. I like items that speak to me on a personal level. I believe your furniture does not have soul unless it has a life before you. I also like stories, and each piece that we offer has a story to tell. And if it has some wear, it has more character and personality as well.”
Weiner and her team are experts in the identification and procurement of rare and highly collectible pieces. Their mission is to get their pieces into the hands of people who love the mod style as much as they do.
“We work with estates that have mid-century modern furniture and help people get the best value for what they have,” she says. “From there, we try to place pieces with customers who will truly appreciate what we’re offering.”
A native of New Jersey, Weiner has called Michigan home for the past 10 years. Before that, she lived in New York for 14 years working as a jewelry and lighting designer. “I was the one wearing vintage clothes and checking out estates sales,” she says. “I just fell in love with this stuff and knew I had to make it a part of my life outside of my own home.”
Weiner’s partners at ModMart are Dan and Brian Laundroche, who not only bring an expertise of furniture restoration to the enterprise, but a famous bloodline as well.
“Our uncle was Harry Bertoia,” Dan says. “And anyone who knows anything about modern design knows he was an unbelievable artist, furniture designer, sound art sculptor, painter and printmaker. In the 1930s and ’40s, he was a student — and then a teacher — at Cranbrook with some of the biggest names in the design world, people like Ray and Charles Eames, Eliel Saarinen and Florence Knoll.
“Furniture restoration and design is our creative outlet,” Dan continues. “Presently, we are working on our own line of furniture for ModMart that will include wooden pieces like coffee tables, chairs, sculpture, plant stands and various lighting pieces. We hope to have everything available online by late 2016.”
The ModMart team also believes in giving back to the community.
“We have aligned ourselves with Humble Design, a charity that helps women who are coming out of shelters get into homes of their own,” Weiner says. “We help set them up with new furniture, bedding, household items and things for the kitchen, and we’re offering anyone that makes a donation to Humble Design 10 percent off here at ModMart.”
Weiner is excited about the renewed interest in the mid-century modern movement in Michigan and Oakland County.
“I’m psyched because it seems like people are moving here from bigger cities, and they can’t get enough of this style,” she says. “I started taking mid-century modern seriously as a business around the time Mad Men first came on the air. Back then, everyone wanted teak wood furniture and Danish Modern pieces. Then the show got more mod and people started moving toward the ’60s style. Now it seems like people really want ’70s-era furniture. It becomes a progression, and we’re just trying to keep up with it because it’s all so cool.
“There’s no set strategy to collecting furnishings like this,” Weiner says. “But I would advise people not to go in and buy everything for your home all at once. You should take it slow and buy things one or two at a time. But, most importantly, you have to select things that speak to you and work well together in the space where they’re displayed. If you can do that, you’ll achieve pure happiness in your own home.” NS
932 W. 14 Mile Road, Clawson