|Detroit, UNESCO City of Design|
Yours truly is back from a very mellow Memorial Day and ready to write. Today we revisit the City of Detroit, Michigan.
The City of Detroit continues its comeback after declaring bankruptcy a few years ago. Recently, the "Motor City" was named the first American "City of Design" by the United Nations Economic, Science, and Cultural Organization. Why should it not be named a City of Design? After all, the city has deep roots in design and creativity. Its roots run deep not only the automobile industry but also in architecture, advertising, food and beverage, fashion, and so much more. Detroit's impact extends far beyond its 139 square mile confines. However, "What does it mean for Detroit to be a 'City of Design?'" Olga Stella, the new executive director of Detroit Creative Corridor Center (http://www.detroit3.com), and Ellie Schneider, the outgoing associate director of DC3, report that Mayor Mike Duggan, Detroit Creative Corridor Center and various community members want to answer.
|"Detroit City of Design"|
What does make Detroit a city of design? Ms. Stella and Ms. Schneider write, "Detroit design and industry made the world mobile, fundamentally changing the way we move, work, and live." Look around the developed world and you will not find one city that has not been affected by a product proudly designed in Detroit. Detroit has a rich legacy of design that includes: Rae and Charles Eames, Knoll office furniture, industrial designer Niels Diffrient, Rip Rapson the founder of The Kresge Foundation, and Albert Kahn. Design remains the main driver of both regional and state economies, thus an important of the contemporary cultural fabric. Olga Stella and Elle Schneider outline several factors that contribute to Detroit, City of Design.
|Cranbrook Academy of Art|
Education: The region is home to some of the finest and globally recognized art and design education institutions including: The Cranbrook Academy of Art, the University of Michigan Tubman School of Architecture and Penny Stamps School of Art and Design, University of Detroit Mercy College of Architecture, and the Lawrence Technological University.
|Herman Miller chair (super comfortable)|
Made in Detroit
Business: Design is an integral part of the region's economy. Here are a few examples:
CAN Art Handworks-a historic preservation focused metalworks studio that recycles and repurposes materials.
Cyberoptix Tie Lab-a textile design and printing company in Eastern Michigan
Rossetti-a global architecture firm focused on sports and entertainment.
Nobel Link-a sustainably made furniture, made in the Russel Industrial Center since 1988
Skidmore Studios-a boutique creative firm that connects entertainment brands to millesimals.
Sundberg Ferar-one of the nation's oldest product design firms.
Community: Detroit's design industry is also mentoring future design firms. One example is the venerable Pewabic Pottery working with Grace in Action's Radical Production, a youth-based technology firm that develops websites and app design services and training program. Community-driven design is improving the city's landscape with initiative like the Lincoln Street Art Park. Makerspaces like Talking Dolls Community Makerspace and OmniCorp Detroit bring together residents to make and innovate.
Detroit Design Center
The UNESCO designation represents recognition that Detroit is a place that embraces design and the engine for sustainable development. However, Olga Stella and Ellie Schneider write, "...the designation itself is just one tool to implement a larger strategy." All the stakeholders, not just DC3, must work together to use this tool during the 10-year designation period. As a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, Detroit and the region will be able to participate in a world-wide exchange of ideas focused on using design to meet the challenges of development in industrial cities. To what end?
Olga Stell and Ellie Schneider continue, "The power of this designation is in its ability to unify our community around design as a driver of Detroit's development. It also will serve as a catalyst for conversations about design in and around the city, allowing for the impact of design to reach a greater audience and make Detroit an even more vibrant place."
The vision of DC3, Mayor Mike Duggan, and community members is that "...through meaningful collaborations, discussions, and partnerships, we can build a long-term vision for what this means how to achieve it." Ms. Stella and Ms. Schneider envision a role for every individual, business, and organization in Detroit. The "City of Design" designation should be more than just a nice title, rather, a way of thinking and action. To jumpstart the conversation, Ms. Stella and Ms. Schneider invite the public to reflect on what Detroit City of Design should stand for over the next ten years. You can leave your thoughts at http://www.detroit3.com. The answers will be complied into a world cloud and shared over the coming weeks.