A house near the True North community in Detroit acts as a live-work space for Julia Griffin of Willa Rose Floral, who has turned it into a 12,000-square-foot flower farm. Philip Kafka of Prince Concepts oversaw the project. Courtesy © Chris Miele Philip Kafka, a Detroit real estate developer with Prince Concepts , usually works alongside architects. But to renovate a neglected, two-bedroom house in the town’s Core City neighborhood (It’s a stone’s throw from his previous development, the Quonset hut live-work community True North) , he got to try on the designer’s role for size. With plans to rent the 2,000-square-foot structure and surrounding property to a flower farm, Kafka used the same materials that give the nearby development its industrial-bohemian character. The renovated house doesn’t just share aesthetic details with the new-builds next door, however: It adopts their new program of open-plan, creative living inside the existing residence. Kafka, who is not formally trained as an architect, grew up in Texas, studied philosophy, and became an entrepreneur in New York City. “Design isn’t the most interesting thing in the world to me, and I’m not really interested in materials,” he says. “I’m interested in what you can do with simple things. It’s a philosophy instead of a set of design principles.” Kafka had wanted to use only one material—plywood—inside and out. But he worried it was too big a risk, he says. “I worked my way back from there to get to the most essential elements I could. When you’re trying not to design, you just leave the materials in their authentic state.” Courtesy © Chris Miele Kafka’s professed lack of interest in design, nonetheless, has imbued the Core City renovation with a unique aesthetic—one that reflects his philosophy on simple things. The project celebrates simplicity, reifying […]