We had the good fortune of connecting with Elayne DeLeo and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Elayne, what principle do you value most?
The principles that matter to me most are inclusiveness and equality. Through my work as Director of the Atlanta Design Festival, our programs and events aim to bring awareness and education on how design is critical to positive change whether that be the design of our city, the places we live, products, communication, or partnerships. Design is absolutely critical to Atlanta’s sustainable economy and future prosperity. Good design puts people first. It uses creativity to solve problems, challenges thinking and make lives better. Designers operate across the whole economy and design has a direct and indirect positive effect on it.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Creating and producing a design festival in the Southeast has its challenges, but Atlanta has a thriving and robust community of design practitioners, creatives, policymakers, and consumers that support our initiatives and programs. We also work with organizations and city leaders to bring awareness of the importance of design to our city’s economy. Design generates $32B in GDP for Atlanta which represents 10% of total GDP. Over 5000 businesses in the metro area employ designers for the creation of technology, products, materials, crafts, and services. More designers work in Atlanta than in NYC! The festival continues to evolve into one of the most exciting design events in the United States, with ambitions to connect the global design community through the festival’s unique programming and content. We are proud to be listed in 2019 Dezeen’s Top 50 design events in the world.

ADF directs its energy into our idea-driven programming and relevant activities, promoting a vast range of design-led interests from established and emerging local and international designers and brands, manufacturers, decision-makers, policymakers, and academic institutions, breathing new life into what thoughtful design is all about. Additionally, we have commissioned internationally sourced social design installations for MARTA and Jamestown, created events for MINI/BMW, provided consulting to young design talent and businesses, and produced informative talks and content that focus on how good design is transformative and critical to improving our communities and our world.

I am extremely proud of the festival’s achievements and international recognition —making Atlanta a prized design destination while addressing the challenges and needs of the city.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Atlanta has so many great spots, venues, museums, and restaurants, it’s hard to pick just a few! A good itinerary would start with a bike ride or walk on the Atlanta Beltline. Next would be brunch at Full Commission in Grant Park for their coffee and avocado toast. I am fascinated by the Noguchi Playscape in Piedmont Park (his only playground in the US), so a visit and ride on possibly the tallest swing set in Atlanta would be on the schedule. We would then make our way to the High Museum for the latest exhibition and installment on the Renzo Piano-designed piazza, and a walkthrough of their permanent decorative arts and folk art collections. An afternoon cocktail is a must at the recently renovated Beaux-Arts style Candler Hotel which was Atlanta’s first skyscraper back in 1906! Dinner would be briny and cold oysters and the decadent lobster roll at the Smith Hanes-designed The Optimist on the Westside. A great ending to the evening would be live Jazz or Blues at Apache Cafe or Blind Willies. Other venues and experiences I recommend are MODA (Musem of Design Atlanta) for their thoughtful and educational exhibitions, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center on the Westside, Scotts Antique Market for vintage finds, Chrome Yellow in Edgewood for coffee, Shoya Izakaya in Doraville for the best Japanese food, and a day visit to Decatur for shopping and lunch at Leon’s Full Service.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My parents deserve a great deal of credit for always supporting me in my decisions – good and sometimes not so good! They encouraged my curiosity about the world and allowed me to make mistakes without judgment. They were always there for advice and support. Both made sure to expose me and my sister to the arts and cultural events whether that be heading to New Haven, CT to tour an art exhibit at Yale, or, hopping on the train to NYC for a visit to the Guggenheim or a Broadway show. These experiences influenced my interest in architecture and design which have lead me to co-found and produce the Atlanta Design Festival that includes programming for all ages of attendee. Now that I am a parent, I try to follow their example with my own daughter by giving her the space to explore who she is while gently guiding her as she discovers her own aspirations.

Website: www.atlantadesignfestival.net

Instagram: @designishuman

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/67352003/admin/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/designishuman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/designishuman

Image Credits
Photo Credit: Bernard McCoy

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutAtlanta is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.