Photos: Lisa Spindler
Resiliency, manufacturing and survival. These things easily describe Detroit. Born from the ashes of the city’s rich industrial history, Jesse Stefani, a third generation metal smith launched his own edgy retail line of fashion accessories and belts, Hex Gear Hex Detroit. The bold designs of Hex Gear embody the city’s raw essence. Crafted around the Hex Nut, one of the most elemental parts of Detroit’s manufacturing, nuts and bolts.
Stefani birthed Hex Gear during the heart of the recession in 2013. Days were grim as his custom sculpture clients were drying up and he risked losing his home.
“I knew I needed to unleash my creative spirit and figure something out. It just so happened that I was rummaging through leftover boxes that had been collecting dust within my family’s studio over the years. And one box in particular filled with hundreds of nuts and bolts. They became my medium to generate new design ideas. I took the box full of hex nuts and used a stainless steel mixing bowl to layout the pieces within, creating my own bowl design by arc welding the metal hardware together in different patterns and shapes.”
But the real connection, he said was his need to wear a belt around the shop. “So I applied the six sided art form in the manner.”
Soon family and friends began to take notice and he started taking orders for his one-off “hex belt.”
Sensing he was on to something, he spent the next weeks tinkering with different design themes that could be re-purposed from the very simplistic piece of hardware. It was here that Hex Detroit and its first line of Hex Gear were born.
An Industrial Design BFA from The College for Creative Studies in Detroit, metal smithing was something Jesse was born to do. He worked at Stefani & Co from 2006, where together with his father Carey they custom crafted anything from fine jewelry to furniture, lighting and award-winning sculptural design until the economy shifted and business dried up.
“Working with metals is in my blood, and design influence has always surrounded me I didn’t have a choice as I became a third generation metal smith and most of my family had built their careers designing and crafting with the strength, beauty and brilliance of metals.”
Stefani illustrates the bold designs of Hex Gear combine the industrial spirit of Detroit with industrial elegance. Crafted for both women and men they are made from 100% authentic materials and finished by skilled artisans.
“Hex Gear is constructed by the finest materials and craftsmanship by the skilled team we have assembled. Hex Detroit hopes to bring positive attention and highlight the city that has forged my design philosophy.”
Hex Gear by Hex Detroit can be found at www.hexdetroit.com.
Michiganders can find them at The Rust Belt Market in Ferndale.
Kickstarter ends tonight! Get pre-orders now https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2030895806/hex-gear-the-ingenuity-of-detroits-industrial-styl?ref=nav_search