Detroit has long been known as an automotive industry city, but it will soon be known for a different distinction: as a design city. The Motor City has been named a UNESCO City of Design—and it's the first U.S. city to earn the title.
The UNESCO Creative Cities Network is a program designed to bring together cities that collectively agree to put creative and cultural industries, like film, literature, folk arts, music, media, and gastronomy, at the forefront of their city planning. Since its launch in 2004, the network has grown to 116 cities. Though several other U.S. cities are in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in other disciplines, previously, the only North American UNESCO City of Design was Montreal.
A few things may have earned the city a place in the program. Detroit has recently been trying to revitalize its Avenue of Fashion, an uptown district that was home to high-end merchants during the mid-20th century. This year was also the fifth year of the Detroit Design Festival, a five-day annual celebration of independent designers from around North America. As a City of Design, Detroit will be part of the next meeting of the Creative Cities Network in Sweden in September 2016.