Commerce Design: Detroit

Commerce Design: Detroit is an award that honors and recognizes commercial projects where business owners have hired professional designers to help them in the design or renovation of their space. We aim to increase investment and growth in Detroit's commercial corridors, promote accessibility and preserve local identity. Licensed from Montreal City of Design, Commerce Design will recognize projects submitted jointly by the business owner and design team, completed within the last five years within the City of Detroit, Highland Park and Hamtramck. Commerce Design: Detroit is presented by Design Core Detroit and AIA Detroit.

Commerce Design: Detroit celebrates the impact of commercial design projects in neighborhoods, while also:

  • Increasing competitiveness of local businesses
  • Growing the market for local design professionals
  • Preserving unique local identity  and culture

From Eastside to West, every neighborhood in Detroit has a commercial thoroughfare that is home to shops, restaurants, grocery stores and other businesses open to the public. These districts are veins in the heart of the city, serving as gathering places for the local community and creating memorable experiences for visitors from near and far. Design has the power to make these spaces welcoming, attractive, and unique – inside and out.

Generously supported by: Bank of America, The PlatformHudson-Webber FoundationNew Economy Initiative of Southeast Michigan

In consideration of the impact of COVID-19 on our community, the 2020 edition of the Commerce Design Awards will be canceled. 




In 2020, Design Core Detroit competitively awarded $50,000 in grant funds to support three small businesses to improve their spaces to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible businesses had previously applied for recognition from Design Core’s 2018 or 2019 Commerce Design Awards. The Commerce Design Refresh Grants were made possible by Bank of America. Folk, Avalon International Breads and SpaceLab share their stories of redesigning to adapt and thrive.


The grant totals $50,000 and will be offered to commercial small business owners who applied for a Commerce Design Award in 2018 or 2019, whether or not that business ultimately won an award. Winners of the grant have the opportunity to hire designers to help their businesses adapt and remain resilient during these challenging times. The winners will work with their chosen design teams to improve the experience, functionality, and safety of their spaces. Special thanks to Bank of America for making this grant possible.

This year’s winners include: Avalon Bakery ($20,000), Folk ($20,000) and SpaceLab Detroit ($20,000).



Pierre Roberson, RA, NCARB

Project Architect, Design Lead, Building + Places AECOM



Pierre is a licensed architect and is currently AECOM’s Michigan Design Practice Lead.  His past experience includes working on a wide variety of project types as an architectural designer for ROSSETTI and S3 Architecture.  He has also worked as adjunct faculty at Lawrence Technological University and has held numerous computational design workshops at the University of Michigan and General Motors.  He graduated from the University of Michigan and Lawrence Technological University with a BS in Architecture and M.Arch respectively. Pierre brings a unique balance of valuable design sensibility joined with exceptional technical expertise. 


Karina Zatarain

Freelance Writer and Editor, Mexico City


Ana Karina Zatarain is a writer and editor based in Mexico City. She received her degree in architecture in 2015 from the Jesuit University of Guadalajara, and went on to work as an Editor at ArchDaily, the world’s most visited architecture website, before becoming a full-time freelance writer. Her work has appeared in publications including Wallpaper*, Metropolis, Hyperallergic, and Common Edge. She is particularly interested in exploring the ways in which art, architecture and design can enact meaningful change in society. 

Sébastien Hylebos

Project Manager, Designregio-Kortrijk (UNESCO City of Design)


Sébastien Hylebos holds a University Degree in Economics. After building up experience as a consultant, he worked as an Account Manager at Deliveroo, one of Europe’s major food delivery companies. As Project Manager at Designregio-Kortrijk, he’s managing the Design in Shops project with now 31 shops actively working together with a designer. 


Myrna Segura

Director of Business District Development, Southwest Detroit Business Association


Myrna Segura has been doing commercial revitalization work in Southwest Detroit for more than 19 years, with 10 years of experience working with the City of Detroit Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Commercial Revitalization(ONCR), using the National Main Street Four-Point Approach to revitalize the Mexicantown and Vernor & Springwells Business Districts by leveraging local assets – from cultural or architectural heritage to local enterprises and community pride.


Dr. Craig L. Wilkins

Lecturer in Architecture, University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning


Recipient of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt 2017 national design award, architect Craig L. Wilkins, phd serves on the faculty of the university of Michigan’s Taubman college of architecture and urban planning. he is also the creative director of the Wilkins project, a social justice, strategic design alliance.


See Last Year's Winners

Wasserman Projects (Eastern Market)
Owner: Gary L. Wasserman Co-Founder: Charles Kashner Architect: Steven C. Flum Contributing Designers: 1. Elliott Earls 2. Jody Roberts 3. Aaron Blendowski & Richard Ganis 4. John Charnota 5. Unsold Studio

Ochre (Woodbridge)
Owner: Jessica Hicks, Daisuke Hughes Designer: Et al Collaborative Contributing Designers: Hamtramck Ceramck, Sam Seurynck, Michael Burdock, Steve Hicks

Meta Physica (Corktown)
Owner: Anahi Hollis, Jenaveve Biernat Designer: Anahi Hollis Design Contributing Designers: Christian Hurttienne Architects, Brian T. Cecil, Anahi Hollis Design

Maru (Downtown – Campus Martius)
Owner: Robert Song Designer: ROSSETTI Contributing Designers: BrenMar, Mod Interiors, SES, Great Lakes Hotel Supply Co.

Kiesling (North End)
Owner: Carlo Liburdi, Ashley Davidson Designer: Citizen Brand & Story Lab Contributing Designers: StudioBD, PLLC Owner: Carlo Liburdi, Ashley Davidson Designer: Citizen Brand & Story Lab Contributing Designers: StudioBD, PLLC

Floyd (Eastern Market)
Owner: Kyle Hoff, Alex O'Dell Designer: M1DTW Contributing Designers: Order, Et al Collaborative

Detroit is the New Black (Downtown)
Owner: Roslyn Karamoko Designer: Gensler Contributing Designers: Rockford Construction, The Donut Shop

Detroit Denim (Rivertown)
Owner: Eric Yelsma, Brenna Lane Designer: Ware Mfg Contributing Designers: Who's That, Logan Merry

Central Kitchen & Bar (Downtown – Campus Martius)
Owner: Dennis W. Archer Jr. Designer: Ron And Roman, Inc.

1701 Bespoke (Midtown)
Owner: Max Schmidt Designer: Patrick Thompson Design


See 2018 Winners

Advance Plumbing and Heating Supply Co. (Midtown)
Submitted by Owners Jeffrey, Justin, and Joshua Moss, and Design Team D-MET Studio

FOLK Detroit (Corktown)
Submitted by Owners Kiki Louya & Rohani Foulkes, and Designer Christopher Stefani of CL Stefani Co.

Detroit Foundation Hotel (Downtown-Financial District)
Submitted by Owners Aparium Hotel Group & 250 Larned LLC, and Design Team McIntosh Poris Associates

House of Pure Vin (Downtown-Merchants Row)
Submitted by Owners Regina Gaines, Andrea Dunbar, and Terry Mullins, and Design Team M1/DTW

Kuzzo's Chicken & Waffles (University District)
Submitted by Owner Ronald Bartell and Designers Joshua Smith of Who’s That? & Jessica Janda of Jessica Janda Design

Lumen Detroit (Downtown-Beacon Park)
Submitted by Owner DTE (managed by Norm LePage), and Design Team Touloukian Touloukian Inc.

New Order Coffee Roasters (Brush Park)
Submitted by Owner Elizabeth Rose, and Design Teams Unsold Studio and Et al Collaborative

Sfumato Fragrances (Midtown)
Submitted by Owners Jane Larson & Kevin Peterson, and Designer Paul Karas of Ware Mfg.

TAKOI (Corktown)
Submitted by Owners Philip Kafka & Chef Brad Greenhill, and Design Team Undecorated

The Commons (Islandview)
Submitted by Owner Ezekiel Harris of MACC Development, and Design Team Laavu Studio


Commerce Design has been globally recognized as an innovative and effective tool for encouraging investment in commercial corridors. A collaborative project between UNESCO Cities of Design Detroit and Montreal, the initiative is built around a competition developed by Montréal in 1995 to promote the benefits of investing in the design and working with design professionals to local merchants and restaurant owners.


2020 applications have closed. Subscribe to our newsletter to learn more about opportunities in 2021.