Detroit Design Festival
Photo courtesy Alan Kranairz
Part of the festival, the DETROIT MADE exhibition includes 10 Detroit designers, including Alan Kaniarz of Mobël Link Modern Furniture. His ZigZag chair, above, is his take on Gerrit Rietveld's 1934 model.

When one thinks of Detroit, many things come to mind. Design is not usually on the top of the list. But the city is a growing design hub, home to both leading design-driven industries and a vast network of skilled workers with the know-how to make things. And its low cost of living has attracted a growing number of creatives who want to do just that.

The annual Detroit Design Festival kicks off today. The nearly week long event—which includes the participation of over 500 designers—is expected to attract 25,000 people to its parties, lectures, performances, walking tours, exhibitions, and open studios, from downtown Detroit to neighborhoods throughout the city. Design happenings run the gamut, from a graffiti/street art battle to the painting of a billboard-sized mural to develop new advertising for Sierra Mist.

“A core theme this year is the role that the intersection of design and manufacturing play in regenerating America's urban areas, with a focus on the Detroit-based firms that are transforming the way we live, work, and move,” says Matthew Clayson, director of the Detroit Creative Corridor Center, which produces the festival. To that end, DETROIT MADE is a survey of design and manufacturing in Detroit now. The exhibition showcases furniture, apparel, bicycles, mass transit, and more from leading manufacturers like Carhartt (which this year celebrates its 125th anniversary) and Detroit Wallpaper Co., independent studios including Ali Sandifer and Sundberg Ferar, and design darling Shinola.

Detroit Design Festival runs through September 28. AIA Detroit hosts a celebration of architecture Thursday evening. For more information, visit