New Times on Kelly Breez
Words by Hannah Sentenac
Miami and Detroit may not appear to have much in common superficially. Dig a little deeper, though, and the two disparate cities share more than a few characteristics — unique cultures, impressive comebacks, and Shinola.
The brand, famous for its American-made watches, bicycles, journals, and other goods, is headquartered in Detroit but opened a Wynwood outpost in 2015. Now the building is adorned with new art: Faces of the Factory, a mural showcasing nine workers from the Michigan site, created by a Miami artist.
Primary Projects multidisciplinary creative Kelly Breez was commissioned to dream up the design, which honors the brand’s handcrafted tradition and the people who make it possible.
“When Primary Projects floated the idea past me of doing a mural for Shinola, my original thought was, How perfect! I love to draw faces, and I thought a mural for them would look great — simple and based around their ad campaign about people who work in the factory,” she says.
The company flew Breez to Detroit to tour the factory and meet the workers who would be the mural’s subjects. She took photos and spoke to the individuals who create Shinola’s specialty: its watches.
“That was the most thrilling part of this whole trip that I’ve gone on with Shinola,” Breez says of her experience at the factory. “Every single part of the watch is so personal because there’s a different face and personality behind every station, and that was so cool. Every step of the process and the factory — they were all more than happy to show me everything and let me ask questions.”
Breez likens Shinola’s maker-style process to her own work, all done by hand. “I do a lot of wood cutouts with jigsaw and cover it in resin — it’s all very much about a multistep process, and Shinola is doing that, but on a much larger and in-depth scale.”
In the end, Breez thinks the mural adds greatly to Wynwood’s creative array. “I like how it seems to have this contrast with a lot of other stuff in Wynwood. By design, it’s simpler and monochromatic… A lot of stuff around the mural is saturated and colorful, and mine isn’t. Shinola also has this great minimal aesthetic with pops of color, so I put a little bit of that in the mural.”