Arts, Local

The Atlanta Design Festival highlights the economic and social impact of design in our community

There's a sustainable jewelry making workshop by Citizen Supply at the Atlanta Design Festival.
There's a sustainable jewelry making workshop by Citizen Supply at the Atlanta Design Festival.
Credit Courtesy of Citizen Supply

This year at the Atlanta Design Festival, established brands and new designers will come together to discuss ideas on the economic and social impact of design. With a theme of “Reconnecting the Community,” the festival aims to highlight ways that Atlanta’s developers, brands, and creators gained insight into design adaptations, working with the challenges of the pandemic. Elayne DeLeo is a producer of the Atlanta Design Fest and joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes to talk about upcoming events throughout the city.

The 2021 festival combines the advantages of virtual, online presentations, and live in-person opportunities. “Obviously the tours; people want to see those in person,” said DeLeo. “But I think conversations and talks, now virtually, are opening up the festival to people who had never heard of us before. So we like both, and I think we will continue to offer both.”

One talk being given for free is “Creating Equitable Communities and Coming Through COVID-19.” DeLeo described her personal take on Atlanta’s place in America’s changing housing and economic patterns, and how she hopes Atlanta can serve all of its current and future residents. “We really believe that Atlanta can stand out as an international city if we embrace good design,” said DeLeo. “How do we maintain an identity as a city, but also be progressive in how we are doing development, and taking into consideration how we are place-keeping as well as place-making?”

She stressed the importance of “making sure that communities that tend to be marginalized are included in those conversations, while we’re also increasing the number of new projects and new developments that come in.”

A “Women in Design” discussion will feature a director of content from Instacart, the grocery delivery app that is contributing to the festival’s sponsorship. ”[Whitney Homans] is going to talk about how to design in a crisis, and how UX design is affected by things like COVID.” Also featured will be Hannah Meachin, an accomplished production designer in film, TV, and commercials, who’ll address the challenges of working in a male-dominated industry.

Other presenters will introduce topics like product design, sustainability, and circular economies. “We’re also partnered with the Swiss Consulate this year, and they have brought in one of their technology, science, and engineering schools called ATH,” said DeLeo. “Their students are going to be presenting on what are some of the new materials coming out that organization companies are using in creating new products. So, how are we using new materials to create things like prosthetics, and reusing materials that would normally be thrown away?”

“Design is all about solving problems,” said DeLeo. “Anywhere you look, you’ll find people that are leveraging design. So I think the opportunity is there for everybody.”

Atlanta Design Festival takes place Oct. 2nd through Oct. 10, both online and at in-person events all over the city. More information is available at