Detroit’s still working on a full recovery from bankruptcy, but forward progress in Motor City this year includes a growing biking movement and, as of last week, a “City of Design” designation.
The distinction brings Detroit into UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network, with 115 other places that have been honored by the international human rights advocacy nonprofit for their history of creating cultural and creative industries. The categories for selection are crafts and folk art, design, film, gastronomy, literature, media arts, and music.
Detroit is the first U.S. city ever picked in the design field. In a major expansion of the network, UNESCO chose 47 cities to join this year. Austin was selected for media arts, and Tucson received a nod for gastronomy. Other “design cities” include Bandung, Indonesia, Budapest, Hungary, and Puebla, Mexico.
According to UNESCO, the Creative Cities Network “aims to foster international cooperation with and between cities committed to investing in creativity as a driver for sustainable urban development, social inclusion and cultural vibrancy.” In a press release about the announcement, the organization notes that the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals outline, released in September, “highlights culture and creativity as key levers for sustainable urban development.”
According to Architectural Digest, DC3, the Detroit Creative Corridor Center, applied for the UNESCO acknowledgement, and the application included this video highlighting Detroit’s connection to design.
“Detroit: City of Design” Detroit Creative Corridor presents a film by Stephen McGee from Detroit Design Festival on Vimeo.
“Design continues to play a significant role in our economy, and it was important that our application reflect our city’s contributions to the golden design community, both historically and today,” Ellie Schneider, DC3’s interim executive director, told Architectural Digest.
Marielle Mondon is an editor and freelance journalist in Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Philadelphia City Paper, Wild Magazine, and PolicyMic. She previously reported on communities in Northern Manhattan while earning an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University.