Pure Michigan Sets its Sights on Design

IDSA Board of Directors’ Member Helps Launch New, State-Wide Council

The state with the largest number of industrial designers and related design professionals is launching the Michigan Design Council (MDC) as a key part of Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s 2015 strategic plan to attract talent and increase economic activity.

The announcement comes a year after the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) asked the Detroit-area, product design and innovation consultancy Sundberg-Ferar to deploy its research and innovation methodologies and lead the way in defining an actionable framework to grow design in Pure Michigan—a dynamic brand representing business, talent and tourism initiatives across the state.

“Michigan’s numbers are impressive and hold immense potential,” says Jeevak Badve, IDSA Central District vice president; Sunberg-Ferar vice president, strategic growth; and a founding MDC board member. “The MDC will leverage these statistics to increase awareness and draw talent and commerce to the state.”

The announcement was made at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit by MEDC’s Senior Vice President of Automotive Kevin Kerrigan and Michigan Lt. Gov. Brian Calley. “While we are proud of the fact that we make things in Michigan, our depth goes far beyond that. We design and make things—cars, furniture, appliances, clothes—items that affect everyone's life each and every day,” says Calley. “The Michigan Design Council will focus on finding ways to attract and retain design talent—a vital component of our overall economic development strategy.”

The MDC is a standing advisory board, comprised of an inclusive member panel representing broad industry, academic and advocacy interests and focused on idea vetting, planning and implementation. The coalition of private, local and state partners aims to:

  • establish Michigan as the destination for individuals in the industrial design and related design professions;
  • encourage businesses to locate to Michigan;
  • help Michigan-based businesses prosper; and
  • attract and retain design professionals.

MDC will focus on branding and messaging, supporting entrepreneurs, building careers, celebrating and strengthening the design community.

Council members will come from design industry leaders such as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Newell Rubbermaid, Whirlpool, University of Michigan and Continental Automotive Systems. They will meet quarterly around the state.

MDC will implement a state-wide, “design prize” awarded annually for improving the human condition through great product design. The first Design Michigan Week is expected to be held in 2016. The council also will establish a “design mecca” where multi-disciplinary design creatives will come together to work, collaborate and grow businesses in Detroit, where IDSA plans to hold its International Conference in 2016.

Sooshin Choi, IDSA, is chair of the 2016 conference and serving on the MDC. He's the provost, vice president for academic affairs and design professor at the College for Creative Studies.

For more information on MDC, contact Badve at jeevak@sundbergferar.com.