Detroit Designers Visit Designmonat Graz

From the Opening Ceremony in the city center to AD MENSAM at ScholoB Hollenegg for Design, a centuries old castle in the country, Designmonat Graz demonstrated how multi-cultural design and innovation enhance historical settings and artifacts and contribute to the ongoing story of human development.  AD MENSAM featured 20 designers from around the world exploring the table as a gathering place where people of all cultures come together, not only to eat, but to form relationships, work, share, solve problems and more.

This double library bench for example, while still blending seamlessly into this castle room, shows how current technology can be employed to create more inclusive and versatile furniture, allowing everyone a seat at the table.  Each side can raise independently or both sides can rise up equally to create a table that accommodates wheelchairs.

The World Wide Things exhibition is also set against the backdrop of a 15thcentury building, while showcasing modern products from nearly all the UNESCO Cities of Design, including Detroit.  Detroit designers selected by Creative Industries Styria to be featured were Bilge Nur Saltik of Form and Seek and Ayako Aratani and Evan Fay from Aratani Fay, who also traveled to Graz for the opening festivities.

Design in the City, which pairs 37 product designers with a variety of shops throughout Graz, is another Designmonat Graz example of unlikely collisions.  A lighting designer installed fixtures in a shoe store.  A playful jungle was created in the rafters and shelves of a gift shop.  Each designer / shopkeeper pair is required to host at least one public event so visitors can learn about the products or process and tours are offered to shoppers throughout the month, encouraging more people to view and appreciate Graz design.

These unlikely pairings and partnerships were contextually and visually exciting and incredibly inspiring. We’re already considering how collisions among varying disciplines of design here at home can raise awareness of the value of design, solve challenges for individuals and communities, and ultimately make the region a better, more inclusive place for all.

Many thanks to Creative Industries Styria, our gracious and generous host, and to the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Kresge Foundation whose financial support made this delegation possible.  Design Core is committed to applying these lessons learned to grow the impact of Detroit’s own Month of Design.