Melinda Anderson, the creative director behind the Detroit Design Festival, combines her background in architecture with her love for travel and collaboration, to help bring Detroit a unique design experience each year.

After she finished her architecture degree at the University of Michigan, Anderson lived in Berlin for a year before returning to Detroit. Since then, Anderson found her way to the Detroit Creative Corridor Center and has spent the past five years helping to dream up and manage what has become the very successful and highly anticipated Detroit Design Festival.

“We’re always looking for fresh new ideas,” Anderson said of the Detroit Design Festival.

With that said, getting ready for the festival is no small feat. With the planning season set from May through October, Anderson finds herself running between the office, working with her team of staff members, freelancers and contractors, and traveling to other design hubs like Berlin, Miami and New York for inspiration.

And after five years with Detroit Creative Corridor Center, her work has helped earn Detroit the prestigious title as a UNESCO City of Design, which makes it the first U.S. city to earn the title.

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network functions as a program that brings cities together that collectively agree to put cultural industries, like film, literature, folk arts, music, media and gastronomy, as a priority in their city plans. UNESCO Creative Cities Network launched in 2004 and since has grown to 116 cities.

Click here to watch Detroit’s UNESCO Design Video!

“It’s a really great honor,” Anderson said.

Anderson said traveling is good for inspiration of all kinds because it shows a different way of life and a way to connect with people through art and design.

She’s seen the festival grow over the years from a more unstructured set up, to a full fledge moving machine.

“Detroiters don’t really understand how cool Detroit is,” Anderson said.

Her favorite part of her job is to watch a vision take shape alongside her freelancers, contractors and staff as they aim for a top notch festival with programming and artists from across the world.

“You’re taking a blank canvas and creating a structure,” she said.

Keep an eye on the festival year round by following them on social media at Detroit Design Festival.

Erica N. Rakowicz/After 5


Due to COVID-19, most events and venues have been cancelled and closed.

We will continue to keep you updated on events as they resume their normal scheduling.

In the meantime, we highly suggest you confirm the dates and details
for each event with the venue itself prior to attending.