Public Design Trust is a collaborative of thinkers, creators, futurists, and civic servants dedicated to Detroit. We’re committed to exploring the future of network-based working models.
Ash Arder is an artist, cultural strategist and community organizer working at the intersection of art, design and the environment to connect people with people and with place. She serves on the review board for South by Southwest Eco, runs Good Lab - a space for creative research and experimentation in Detroit, and co-facilitates the Black Artist Meet Up - a monthly gathering for critique and critical discourse for emerging and established Black artists in Detroit. Ash’s creative practice explores the use of plants to create fiber, while increasing access to and visibility of this ancient process. She is pursuing an MFA in Fiber at the Cranbrook Academy of Art.
Taylor Renee is an arts administrator, curator, arts writer & cultural critic. She received her M.L.A from Harvard University with a concentration in Museum Studies and her B.A from Howard University with a concentration in Art History. Taylor's interests lie at the intersection of arts, culture and equity. In 2015, she co-founded ARTS.BLACK, an online publication for art criticism from black perspectives predicated on the belief that art criticism should be an accessible dialogue. Taylor currently lives in her hometown Detroit, Michigan -- the best city in the world.
Serene Arena is a Detroit-based graphic designer whose work centers on political, non-profit, and regional issues. She received a BFA in Design from the University of Michigan, where she also studied Art History, French, and Psychology. Her practice is informed by how people think, act, react, and then adjust. In exploring the relationship between how communities and individuals engage with design and language, she aims to shift social dialogue and cultural interactions by reconnecting independent spheres back to a larger shared experience in order to open new possibilities for our regional and global future.
Najahyia Chinchilla, licensed architect, is the Studio director of Workplace Design at Gensler Detroit. She began her award winning career in NYC before returning to her hometown, Detroit. She believes in the power of design to create solutions for communities. As an AIA Detroit board member she curates exhibits, organizes international design competitions, plans celebrations, and activates neighborhoods. She helps guide equitable community engagement and neighborhood development as a member of the Land Inc. board. Passionate about accessible, walkable, bikeable, and people-friendly cities, her global perspective and local leadership shapes the future of Detroit’s sustainable urban transformation.
Libby Cole is a partner at The Work Department and a multi-disciplinary designer. Her work prioritizes people, their access to information, and the translation of complex ideas. She is also the founder and owner of I Miss You Already, a handcrafted line of screen-printed goods sold online and in boutiques across the US and Canada. Libby’s work with clients both big and small along with her past experience in teaching, illustration, and traditional media makes for smart, iconic visuals.
Sarah F. Cox is a real estate developer, writer, and all-around around creative catalyst who has co-founded several influential entities including the nonprofit Write A House Detroit residency program and Curbed Detroit. She holds a BS in Architectural Studies from the University of Virginia School of Architecture and MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. Driven by the possibilities of reinventing real estate development and repurposing of discarded land through innovative cooperative strategies, she currently focuses her energy on growing the impact of sustainable residential housing development with Century Partners in Detroit.
Carlie is a seasoned producer informed by her background in art history, museum work, and automotive advertising. A lifetime metro-Detroiter, she graduated from The University of Michigan with a BA in Criminal Psychology and History of Art with an emphasis on modern and contemporary art. She activates her design thinking (and doing) in each of her projects as she studies the goals, examines the context surrounding the creative endeavor, and considers the long term social significance. She maintains an efficient and collaborative process while organizing important information into its clearest and most easily understood form.
Nina Bianchi is a founding partner The Work Department where she focuses on cultivating relationships and building innovative development partnerships both locally and internationally. She currently serves on the Advisory Board for the Detroit Creative Corridor Center (DC3), an economic development organization. She’s also the co-founder of OmniCorpDetroit and Detroit Digital Justice Coalition as well as an alumna of the Great Lakes Leadership Academy Leadership Advancement Program. Drawn to complex systems, she is dedicated to unlocking more resources so that people can shape a more equitable future together.