On Wednesday 16 May, Geelong’s designation as a UNESCO City of Design was officially launched at an event featuring international guest speaker Ellie Schneider, Design Core Detroit – UCCN City of Design.
The launch was opened by Corrina Eccles, Waddawarrung Woman and Norm Stanley, Didgeridoo Player who led the celebration with beautiful sounds and the story of the Wathaurong people. The opening ceremony performed by Aboriginal elders, was both moving and a powerful reminder of the region’s original design history.
Following Corrina and Norm’s performance we heard from Christine Couzens, Member for Geelong who spoke of State of Victoria holding the honour of two designations, Melbourne as the City of Literature and Geelong as City of Design. Cr Bruce Harwood spoke of Geelong’s past, from strength in our history as designers, to the capability of the region to forge ahead as thinkers and makers.
However, the keynote speaker, Ellie Schneider, was the presenter all attendees were keen to hear from. Coming from a former industrial past, with the automotive industry leaving Detroit, has left the city unsure of its future and the need for transformation. The UNESCO designation has enabled the city to re-emerge and provide opportunities for a range of people from varying socioeconomic backgrounds and situations.
Ellie spoke of the ways Detroit gathered its leaders and design thinkers across the city to ensure design is inclusive and has participation by all. Design Core Detroit achieved this by:
- Identifying and building a design ecosystem
- Engaging with design leaders and thinkers
- Developing a vision and strategy for design growth.
The strength of Detroit as a design city is to recognise and promote all the tiny steps that are taken to improve society and to build a sustainable culture. In this way, Detroit has enabled design to permeate across all cultures and economies in the City. The focus is on inclusive design, and Geelong can embrace the key learnings from Detroit as a City of Design.
To celebrate the launch, the City, in partnership with a number of local organisations, hosted a series of design showcases highlighting the achievements Geelong has already attained in this field.
Included in the design showcases, was a rare opportunity to visit Manufutures – an advanced manufacturing accelerator organisation, Carbon Nexus – the only combined research and commercial-scale carbon fibre production plant in the southern hemisphere, and the Centre for Advanced Engineering Training at Deakin University. Visitors went behind the scenes in these organisations that are at the forefront of engineering, manufacturing and technology design.
Other showcases included a tour of The Gordon TAFE Design Hub, with examples from the world of fashion design, patternmaking, graphic design, visual arts, interior design, makeup and floristry; a tour of Deakin University’s School of Architecture and Built Environment; a presentation on the design and function of the Geelong Library and Heritage Centre, and a special screening of Oddlands – a short feature film from Geelong’s critically acclaimed Back to Back Theatre.
The showcase series ran from Tuesday 15 May to Thursday 17 May 2018.