Detroit Design Month Festival Celebrates New and Seasoned Detroit Artists

Modified: September 09, 2019 | Story by Arthur Bridgeforth Jr. | Photos by Julie Friedman

Tiffany Brown is on a mission to find young people who look like her to get involved in the numerous career opportunities found in design and creative-related fields that will be featured during the Detroit’s Design Month festival in September.

In a word, she’s looking for the next Tiffany Brown, who is currently an elementary or high school student with a passion for creativity but lacking the direction to a career path. A position Brown found herself in as a teenager and student at Detroit Northwestern High School until she was exposed to her future alma mater – Lawrence Technological University.

“I was always interested in art and drawing, it has always been a part of me,” said Brown, who is now a architectural designer. “It kind of led me to it (architecture).”

Guardian Building interior

Guardian Building by Wirt C. Rowland, photo by Bill Bowen.

Thanks to Design Core Detroit, what was a mere local festival with a few events is now an entire month of global celebration. A celebration showcasing Detroit’s role contributing design innovation and creativity to the world and hopefully attracting future designers. The global element is credited largely to Detroit’s distinction as the first U.S. city to be a UNESCO City of Design.

“We’re the only U.S. city to receive the designation,” said Olga Stella, executive director of Design Core Detroit. “The whole purpose of the designation is to use design to drive sustainable and equitable development in the city.”

So with that designation comes the responsibility of adhering to a mission of inclusion when it comes to design and creativity. Stella added, it’s important to be inclusive to everyone as well as the different elements of design.

Brown agrees with the importance of inclusion.

“As a born and bred Detroiter, I see inclusive design as being a bridge to solve problems of many social issues in urban cities,” Brown said. “Inclusive design and social design can work together as major identifiers to improve things like test scores, lower crime rates and an overall better quality of life for a space’s inhabitants.”

UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. The 31 designated design cities Detroit is connected too include: Beijing; Berlin, Budapest, Buenos Aires, Helsinki, Montreal, Shanghai and Singapore.

Detroit skyline

Photo by Vito Palmisano.

Design Core Detroit positions the city to be one of the globally inclusive design cities that incorporates all 10 design disciplines. Those include: Architecture; Information Architecture, Graphic Design, Motion Design, Visual Design, Web Design, Human Computer Interaction, Interaction Design, Industrial Design and Urban Design.

The disciplines are showcased during design month and run the gamut from educated to self-taught designers that come from diverse racial, gender identity and social economic backgrounds. That’s the point of Design Core’s mission of making Detroit a design inclusive city.

“Detroit is a global city of design and we have some 40 events to fill out the month,” Stella said. There are four key events that visitors are especially encouraged to partake in.

The events are:

  • Drinks X Design Crawl Thursday, Sept. 14th 5:30-8 p.m. at the Fisher Building in Midtown
  • Youth Day Saturday, Sept. 15th 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Michigan Science Center in Midtown
  • Eastern Market After Dark Thursday, Sept. 20th 7-11 p.m. at Eastern Market near downtown
  • Light Up Livernois Saturday, Sept. 29th 8-10 p.m. on the Avenue of Fashion in Northwest Detroit 

The full line-up of events throughout the month is available at

Meanwhile, Brown and her organization 400 Forward will be directly involved in a competition during Detroit Design Month. She will lead a team of high school and elementary girls from Detroit Public Schools in the Designer Putt-Putt competition.

Each competing team’s Putt-Putt project will be displayed at the Eastern Market After Dark event and during the Light Up Livernois event. The five winning teams will be awarded $1,000 by the Center for Creative Studies for materials.

“I’m excited about it,” said Brown about Detroit Design Month. “I’m looking forward to it.”

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Mentioned Attractions And Venues

  1. 1
    Michigan Science Center
    5020 John R St., Detroit, MI 48202
  2. 2
    Eastern Market
    Russell Street between Mack Avenue and Gratiot Avenue, 2934 Russell St., Detroit, MI 48207
  3. 3
    The Historic Avenue of Fashion
    6336 W. 7 Mile Road, Livernois between 8 Mile and McNichols roads, Detroit, MI 48221