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Detroit first and only American city to be named City of Design


Detroit has been named to the UNESCO Creative Cities Network as a City of Design. Of the 47 cities invited to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in 2015, just six, including Budapest and Singapore, were admitted under the City of Design designation. Detroit is the first and only American city to be designated as a City of Design.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network was formed in 2004 in order to promote and connect cities that identify a creative field as an opportunity for sustainable urban development. In addition to the field of design, the other fields are crafts and folk art, film, gastronomy, literature, media arts, and music. Member cities collaborate with each other, promote each other, and share best practices with each other.

Not only a major validation of what Detroit's design industry has accomplished, the creative cities designation provides the city a unique platform for networking with other world-class design cities. Ellie Schneider, interim executive director at Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3) in the Argonaut building, says the city recently hosted a group of designers from Graz, Austria, and that the fellow City of Design will soon return the favor. That exchange of knowledge and experience can drive development.

Homegrown initiatives, like DC3's Drinks x Design and the Detroit Design Festival, further helped to improve the city's design profile both at home and abroad.

"Our work is so experimental and innovative that we have to look toward cities other than ones in the United States," says Schneider. "We have to look all over the world for benchmarks and inspiration."

Though the designation honors Detroit's design legacy and potential for growth throughout the city and region, it is the DC3 that is largely responsible for securing the City of Design title. The creative industries advocacy organization had the goal of obtaining the designation from UNESCO as part of a five-year strategy. DC3 was launched in collaboration between Business Leaders for Michigan and College for Creative Studies in 2010.

DC3 is planning a year-long celebration of the designation and will announce its plans once Olga Stella joins Detroit Creative Corridor Center as its next full-time executive director in January 2016.

Writer: MJ Galbraith

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MJ Galbraith is Model D's development news editor. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.
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