2019 Commerce Design: Detroit Awards

Commerce Design: Detroit is an award program that is part of the UNESCO City of Design Action Plan. Launched in 2018, the program is based on a model introduced in 1995 in Montreal---one of Detroit's sister cities in the UNESCO network---and is now licensed in more than a dozen cities around the world. Design Core Detroit has partnered with AIA Detroit, a Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, to manage the program, with support from Bank of America.
Commerce Design: Detroit is aimed at raising awareness of, and access to, professional design services for neighborhood small businesses, and celebrating the impact of commercial design projects on the communities in which these businesses reside. The award program will recognize projects, submitted jointly by the business owner and design team, that have been completed within the City of Detroit (including Highland Park and Hamtramck) within the last 5 years.


This award program is open to any commercial project that utilized professional design services currently operating in Detroit, Hamtramck, or Highland Park that is open to the public. Projects that are temporary, still under construction at the time submissions are due, or part of a national chain are not eligible for this program. Past winners are not eligible to resubmit, however past applicants may re-apply.


Sandra Olave, Chair
Interior Design Chair, College for Creative Studies

Penelope de la Madrid
Interior designer, ABAKA Interiors, Puebla UNESCO Design City

Rochelle Riley
Journalist and columnist for the Detroit Free Press

Pierre Roberson
Architect and Michigan Design Practice Lead, AECOM

Eric Thomas
Partner, brand specialist and senior partner at Saga Marketing

Program Submission Requirements:

Business Information:

  • Business Name and Generic Business Type (i.e. "Cafe", "Book Store", "Financial Planner", etc.)
  • Neighborhood + Mailing Address, Website and Email Address, Business Contact Information
  • Buildout statistics (i.e. Project Area / Square Footage, Year of Completion, Total Project Cost)
  • Business Owner Questionnaire

Design Team Information:

  • Design Firm Name and Practice Type (i.e. Architect, Interior Designer, Graphic or Branding Designer)
  • Design Firm Contact Information
  • Additional Contributing Consultants

Submission Materials:

  • Project Floorplan(s) or Layout Diagram(s) (Compiled to a single .pdf)
  • Completed Project Images (Up to six (6) 'after' images)
  • Competition Exhibit Board (Optional; One compiled image or graphic to be exhibited at the AIAD Celebration of Architecture, Thursday September 20th)
  • "Before" Images (Optional; Up to two (2) images)
  • Brand / Visual Identity Graphics (Optional; up to four (4) images or graphics, including logos, signage, printed materials, packaging, etc.)
  • Design Team Image (Optional; one (1) photograph of the Design Team; may be as formal or casual as desired)

Submission Text:

  • 500-Word Project Summary
  • 1-3 Sentence Quote or Testimonial from Business Owner, Employees, or Customers on the impact of the Design process)
  • List of Design Team's additional projects completed or underway in Detroit
  • Disclosure and Waiver


Commerce Design Detroit Partners:

  • Design Core Detroit
  • UNESCO Detroit City of Design
  • AIA Detroit
  • Bank of America