"Look around you. This is not bungalow furniture," says Joe Posch, surveying the goods in his store, Mezzanine
And he means that in the nicest way. (And if you live in a bungalow, as, ahem, this writer does, you could truly find a way to make the stuff work, but that's more of a story for Dwell magazine.)
Posch's point is that his store caters to a lifestyle and an aesthetic that something like a Restoration Hardware chain store does not. Mezzanine, located on the second floor of the Merchant's Apparel building at the corner of Grand River and Broadway, near the Detroit Opera House and the Boll Family YMCA, is not furniture for the masses.
The space, which Posch has renovated, is filled with fine modern furnishings from design houses like Allesi, Moooi, Knoll, Jonathan Adler and Artifort. He sells sofas and seats, tables and accessories, some of which look like they were ripped from a '60s futuristic sci-fi movie set, others from a minimal Scandinavian retreat belonging to someone named Jan or Lars. And they are all gorgeous.
And let's stress the word design. This is high design. And despite old rusty notions of the Motor City, Posch says, it all belongs smack dab in the middle of downtown Detroit.
The store is new to downtown, but it isn't exactly new. Posch moved Mezzanine to Detroit from Ann Arbor a couple years ago, operating at first online only and then this summer out of his newly renovated digs. He still does nice online business at www.mezzanine-online.com
While a suburban Oakland County place like fashionable Ferndale or big bucks Birmingham might seem a more fitting or easier move for a retailer — with lots of established retail and space that's already a big white box waiting to be inhabited by a store — Posch says something like Mezzanine only makes sense in a city.
Being a city guy himself, Posch adds that being in Detroit "weeds out
the assholes. My customers are educated, cosmopolitan, and they're not
afraid to come to the city."
And, frankly, Detroit is a design city. The score may be familiar, but to tally it up again: We have a renowned art school (College for Creative Studies)
, a history of making beautiful objects (cool cars), and amazing architecture (need we say more). There's an appreciation for lovely things, and cool objects, here that shouldn't be overlooked.
That said, if the names of über-hip Swedish and German designers don't drip from your tongue as easily as the names of the '84 Tigers starting lineup, Posch wouldn't slam the door in your face. Just the opposite, really.
Posch is more of a curator than a purveyor. Mezzanine, is, with great care and attention, stocked with objets d'art, beautiful modern décor and furniture from world-renowned designers. Posch is in the process of expanding the store with a room
that he's stocking with literature on design and architecture. That room's soft opening is this week, and he plans to have it fully stocked by Thanksgiving.
While the merchandise is very exclusive, the store is hardly pretentious, and that's thanks in no small part to Posch's personality and generous spirit.
He is more than happy to regale questioning customers with the history behind the goods, or just ring the cash register, whatever suits you. Although, it does give him a thrill when customers come in and know their stuff. And loads of them do.
Posch recalls fondly how one customer walked in and looked around at the layout and interior design of the store and recognized his influences — the stark walls and brightly colored fluorescent light details lining the windows were inspired by famed New York artist Donald Judd's live/work space, his permanent installation at 101 Spring Street
. No foolin', the customer got the reference.
After all, Detroit is a design city. So it's no surprise Posch isn't alone in his obsession with good design. Feel free to join him.
Joe Posch and Mezzanine Photographs Copyright Dave Krieger
Mezzanine is at 206 E.Grand River Ave. on the second floor. Hours are 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Contact: 313.887.0900 or firstname.lastname@example.org