Detroit, a metropolis of more than 6 million inhabitants, is considered a hub for industrial design and the beating heart of creative industries in the state of Michigan (United States of America). In the light of its industrial past, Detroit has built itself as a cradle of American modernist design and as a global center for prolific designers, including Eames, Knoll, Saarinen and Yamasaki. The industry of design has been a driver for the city’s urban regeneration and represents today a significant lever for employment and an economic engine by employing more than 45,000 people and generating $US 2.5 billion in wages.
In view of its rich legacy in the automotive industry, Detroit hosts the International Auto Show Industry Days, drawing 5,000 automotive and design stakeholders from no less than 60 countries. The Society of Automotive Engineers Conference is a similarly popular event which explores the connections between engineering and industrial design. Detroit is also home to the Detroit Design Festival, the largest festival of design dedicated to freelance professionals in North America, showcasing 70 workshops and exhibitions annually attended by 500 designers worldwide.
To further nurture the vibrant sector of industrial design, the Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3) was opened in 2010 by the municipality. It has served ever since as the city’s advocacy organization by providing leadership, resources, data and analytics necessary to sustain the economic output and social impact of the city’s global creative economy. The main objective of DC3 is to give international recognition to Detroit as a global center of design, innovation and creativity.
As a Creative City of Design, Detroit envisages:
- nurturing the pivotal role of industrial design for the city by reinforcing public policies, notably with the establishment of the Detroit Council of Arts, Cultural Affairs and Creative Industries and the Michigan Design Council;
- creating new enterprises and opportunities for designers, and encouraging the next generation to follow careers in the creative industries;
- launching the DC3 Creative Industries Roundtable to foster synergy between public-private stakeholders in the field of design, in order to conduct collective research and coordinate efforts for more participatory and human-centred approaches to design;
- involving other Creative Cities of Design in the Detroit Design Festival and Industry Days, to share best practices and experiences, notably on the linkages between design, manufacturing, regeneration of past industrial cities and sustainable urban development; and
- opening competitions, including the Dlectricity, the CAMP Detroit and the Public Design Installation of the Detroit Design Festival, to emerging designers from the UCCN.