rchitectural designer and
contractor Deby Lebow
never imagined her career
would impact her family
the way it did. After designing vari-
ous retail stores, restaurants and
health care facilities, Lebow was
asked to be the on-site designer and
general contractor for the Holocaust
Center in West Bloomfield.
"My parents are Holocaust sur-
vivors," says Lebow, "so I had a very
personal interest." Once her home-
town museum was completed, she
got calls requesting her design
expertise for Holocaust museums in
Florida, New York and Chicago.
"The work just snowballed," she
says. Lebow had very specific ideas
for the museums' exhibits. "I didn't
want to hit people over the head
with the most gory details," she says.
"I wanted people to relate; I wanted
to touch them."
In New York, she focused on peo-
ple's daily work. "My mother talked
about her experiences and I actually
used her things in an exhibit," says
Lebow. "For me, the daily involve-
ment was hard and stressful. Just
sifting through all the photos was
Lebow sees her work as a blend
of science and art. She is well aware
of the physical and psychological
effects of an environment. "Design
is a solution to a problem," she says.
Her most recent commercial proj-
ect was the design of Lepanto, the
Italian restaurant in Royal Oak.
Lebow's sophisticated design
includes extensive metal work by
Steven Frank in Detroit, warm light-
ing, a sweeping, curved dropped
ceiling, a limestone wall behind the
bar and lots of mahogany woodwork.
"It was the old Dunn's Camera, with
cinderblock walls," says Lebow "We
gutted it and started over, with par-
ticular attention to space planning.
Function is always the first priority,
Today, Lebow teaches interior
architecture at Lawrence Tech and
spends as much time as possible
with her 9-year-old son, Davi. She
tries to take jobs that are smaller in
scale than the museums. "I've start-
ed to enjoy residential projects," she
says, "after completing the interior
design of my own home. After all, a
home really evokes who you are."
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