Design festivals are just as much about their host cities as they are a celebration of creative talent. Starting with a kickoff party on Tuesday, September 23, the Detroit Design Festival (through September 28) puts the city’s creative community on display for a nearly week-long program of more than 20 events that capture the energy, style and urban character of Detroit. This year’s festival will explore the juxtaposition between design and art when the six-day festival intersects with DLECTRICITY (September 26 – 27).
Presented by the Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3), and supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the fourth-annual Detroit Design Festival spans all design disciplines and brings together commerce, culture, education and entertainment with a full, varied program of exhibitions, openings, installations, shows, talks, open studios, fashion shows, product previews, performances and workshops.
In its first three years, the Detroit Design Festival has hosted more than 230 design events, attracting 40,000 attendees to dozens of unique Detroit neighborhoods. More than 300 venues throughout the city were activated for fashion shows, lectures, installations, exhibitions, pop-up retail and other activities. An independent study conducted by researchers at London’s Victoria Albert Museum revealed many participating businesses recorded revenue spikes during the 2012 Detroit Design Festival.
“The Detroit Design Festival is thrilled to join forces with DLECTRICITY this September,” said Matthew Clayson, DC3’s director. “A collaboration between the Detroit Creative Corridor Center and Midtown Detroit bringing the Detroit Design Festival and DLECTRICITY together in the same week was a simple decision. We have an exciting week planned, which will only further reinforce Detroit’s reputation as an international center of design.”
This edition of Detroit Design Festival is its most expansive to date with several design events taking place in six core clusters at venues along Detroit’s Creative Corridor, from Downtown Detroit to New Center, in Eastern Market and in neighborhoods throughout Detroit.
Read on for a list of highlights slated for the festival:
Tuesday, September 23: Detroit Design Festival Kickoff Party and Festival Preview, 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. (A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education, College for Creative Studies, floor 11, 485 W. Milwaukee St.)
The festival’s official kickoff party will include an automotive-themed Design Expo that will spotlight Detroit’s role as an international center of design and manufacturing. Featuring local design associations, professionals and business ventures in Detroit Creative Corridor Center’s network, the expo will showcase the significant impact of Detroit’s burgeoning design industry. Guests will enjoy cocktails, appetizers and live entertainment with hundreds of fellow designers and design enthusiasts at this free event, which is open to the public. Tickets are available online.
Wednesday, September 24: Detroit Design Festival Lecture Day, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. (Multiple Locations)
The festival welcomes international design consultant Carmela Spinelli who lectures extensively on design, fashion history and the fashion business, to the Toyota Lecture Series. Spinelli has spoken at the Beijing Institute of Fashion, Fashion Forward Dubai, and the Centro de Arte y Cultura in Honduras. She currently holds the position of fashion historian and coordinator of international special projects at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Spinelli has also served as associate chair of the department of fashion design at Parson’s The New School of Design under renowned chair Tim Gunn. The Toyota Lecture Series in Design was established through a $1 million endowment gift to the College for Creative Studies from Toyota Motor Company. This event is free and open to the public. A complete list of lectures can be found online.
Thursday, September 25: Eastern Market After Dark, 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. (Eastern Market)
This self-guided evening tour provides a once-a-year opportunity for guests to explore more than 30 creative venues. Eastern Market is often recognized as the food hub of Detroit, bustling with Saturday morning shoppers. After dark a different hustle takes over the neighborhood, a creative movement hidden in lofts, studios and galleries in the market. The night tour will open the doors to studios, galleries, artists’ residencies, hacker spaces, shops and letterpress studios. The evening will give guests a chance to explore the market often not experienced. The event is free and open to the public.
American Institute of Architects (AIA) Detroit: Celebration of Architecture, 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. (Shed 3, 2934 Russell St.)
AIA Detroit's annual architecture awards celebrate quality local design. This year's event will feature lighting installations, craft cocktails, artisan Detroit food culture tastings, video projections and architecture-inspired runway fashion shows. This event takes place during Eastern Market After Dark. Tickets are $35 ($15 with student ID) and admission is free after 9:00 p.m. To purchase tickets, click here.
Friday, September 26: Detroit Design Festival Design Crawl, 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Downtown)
With 32 creative enterprises relocating to Detroit in four short years, the City’s design community is ripe with bustling design-forward businesses. Take a ride on the People Mover and enjoy a curated self-tour through Detroit’s hottest design studios, touring events, open houses and installations taking place at stops near the Grand Circus Park, Times Square, Broadway, Cadillac Center and Financial District stations. Seasoned veterans and the new kids on the block, such as Anya Sirota + Akokai, Kraemer Design Group, Gyro Creative, Workbuild HQ, and the Knight Foundation will host a Placemaking Lecture. Skidmore Studio, AIREA, Erick and Israel Nordine, AIGA, Fortress Studio and Gensler will also give attendees behind-the-scenes tours of Detroit architectural gems, award-winning design studios and more. DDF Design Crawl is free and open to the public.
Design Village at DLECTRICITY, 7:00 p.m. to Midnight (Midtown Detroit)
Detroit’s nighttime festival of art + light, DLECTRICITY will feature 35 world-renowned and emerging artists whose cutting-edge works of art will illuminate Midtown Detroit—from the Detroit Institute of Arts to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. At the center of DLECTRICITY’s footprint, the Detroit Design Festival will host a Design Village exhibition featuring the work of dozens of Detroit's independent designers. This event will also take place on Saturday, September 27, and will feature the DLECTRICITY Light Bike Parade where thousands of cyclists are expected to bike a 4-mile route through Midtown Detroit, adding extra light and energy to the streets. Weekend programming also includes performances and artist talks.
Sunday, September 28: Light Up Livernois Encore/Closing Party: 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Livernois Community Storefront, 19410 Livernois)
Entrepreneurs, artists and designers from Detroit are joining forces to present a block party on Detroit’s historic Avenue of Fashion. The afternoon will feature design, art, installations, exhibitions, shopping and entertainment. The event is free and open to the public.