Detroit’s 11th annual Month of Design kicks off on September 1st, and what a month it will be. The 2021 schedule is filled with exhibitions, design experiences, workshops, installations, open studios, talks, tours, and more, all brought to life through Design Core and the community. Detroit’s Month of Design has done nothing but grow over the past years, doubling in its events since 2019.
This year, especially, is an exciting one for artists and designers as we enter a time which many are calling our “new normal.” It seems there are many things that beg for change, and Month of Design is a helping hand, a supportive platform, in connecting designers and artists with the tools they need to showcase change, and maybe even bring it forth.
Olga Stella, Design Core’s Executive Director speaks to her hoped impact, as well as the impact of past years, of Month of Design, “The applications [for participation in Month of Design] were up over last year, and 40% of the applications were from first-time applicants who had never participated [in] Month of Design before.
“That kind of outpouring of interest from, you know, both the design community and the larger community… I think, for us, really spoke to the importance of the festival as a platform, for not just celebrating and showcasing ideas, but really digging into some of the issues that are affecting Detroit, that people want to talk about and have others experience with them.”
Some festivals… rely on maybe more permanent… installations or… their city might be more developed in some ways. And I think Detroit is a city that’s always developing and changing, and it’s really driven by kind of the grassroots nature of what’s happening, and the festival is really proving itself as this platform for people to show those ideas, share those ideas, [and] have others connect to those ideas.
This year’s events take part in some of 2020’s Month of Design COVID-19 precautions, in an effort to keep all participants safe. For Stella, this is an exciting aspect of this year’s festival, meaning many of the exhibits will be self-led and can be independently enjoyed. Along with the festival’s safety guidelines set in place, the increased number of exhibits, from last year’s 13 to this year’s 20, is compelling as well.
Most of this year’s exhibits brought together through Design Core, are produced by the community, which results in more vast and immerse experiences throughout the month of September. To Stella all of the events are enticing, but she speaks to her excitement for one of the events done in partnership with the Detroit Historical Society titled “Invoking the Spirit.”
“It started out as a project we were calling History by Design,” she says. “So the idea behind History by Design is to use design to help, you know, tell the hidden history, help uplift the hidden histories of Detroit neighborhoods.” For Stella this is a fascinating project as the Detroit Historical Society has so much material, but very few ways to showcase or share it with the community.
“The pilot [project] is in Black Bottom, so it’s about Black Bottom and Lafayette Park, there’ll be several like interactive, kind of markers so using… technology to help then pull the stories out,” Stella says. This project, which will kick off on September 15th, is something that is hoped to bring a greater connection between the Historical Society, as well as other cultural institutions, and their communities.
There are so many events to look forward to during 2021’s Month of Design, and the care that went into planning the festival is really one to be noted, “I can’t say enough about the team [that put 2021’s Month of Design together] and their… thoughtfulness that they put into this, to every detail of this.” says Stella.
Don’t miss out on any of the planned events! Here is 2021’s Month of Design schedule.
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