Olga Stella Talks Design in Detroit

Detroit is first in U.S. to be named UNESCO City of Design

Jake Neher/WDET

Detroit is the first and only city in the United States to have been named a UNESCO City of Design. 

Olga Stella is executive director of the Detroit Creative Corridor Center. She says that the award is a recognition of the city’s assets and commitment to use them to drive the future.

Detroit has deep roots in design, says Stella, especially its hand in founding industrial design. It also has a concentration of designers and engineers that rivals other parts of the country, she says.

“Design is more than just places and process,” says Stella, “It’s also about people.”

The unique aspect for Detroit is the opportunity for community-based design, says Stella, which she hopes is used to promote neighborhood development. The term “design” covers more than just physical appearance, she says. It can mean mobility and systems design, she says, as well as design for social impact.

“This is not a place where we can do small things. Detroit is a place where we have to do big things,” says Stella. “Detroit is going to capture the imagination of the world.”

The organization is trying to build a platform that different programs and projects can plug into, says Stella. They’ll be discussing the award at the Detroit City of Design launch event on June 28 at MOCAD. 

To hear more of the conversation, click on the audio player above.


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