Modern Atlanta’s Annual Festival Will Focus Less on Modern Architecture, More On Design


    Starting on June 2, Modern Atlanta’s Atlanta Design Festival (formerly known as Design is Human Atlanta) returns for the tenth year. This year, the festival will feature three separate tours of the very best modern homes in Asheville, NC, Athens, GA, and Atlanta, GA, as well as a number of lectures, panels, and discussions geared towards industry professionals and homebuyers alike.
    Founded in 2007 by Bernard McCoy and Elayne DeLeo, the festival grew out of a desire to see more modern and contemporary architecture implemented in Atlanta. Since then it has grown from a small tour into a two-week celebration of modern architecture, design, and technology.

    According to McCoy, the roots of the festival were planted by a social group of young architects who felt their creativity was being stifled. In an interview with Atlanta Magazine, McCoy said, “These architects were employed, but they weren’t doing what they loved, which was contemporary architecture. “
    And so, the first Design is Human Atlanta tour came about to showcase the power and beauty of modern design. To everyone’s surprise, the festival was a smash hit, attracting more than 500 people.
    “With this turnout, we felt something was brewing. We wanted to serve this audience in a stronger way,” McCoy said.
    So McCoy and Deleo founded Modern Atlanta (or MA!), a business dedicated to fostering modern and contemporary architecture. And they seem to be successful. Since the inception of this festival, there has been an explosion of modern and contemporary homes in and around Atlanta.

    “We can’t take all the credit, but we feel we’ve influenced a much more robust growth in contemporary residential architecture,” Delao said in the same interview to Atlanta Magazine. “We see a lot more modern homes going up.”
    But that success is part of what has driven the team to undertake the rebranding of the festival. In doing so, they are shifting some of the focus from modern architecture to design.
    As McCoy explained, “Many U.S. cities have ignored how design can drive the economy. Furniture isn’t just about design. Someone has to be paid to make it, to transport it, to receive it at the dock. Cities like London and Milan understand this, and we see the same potential for design to drive the economy in Atlanta.”
    The reasoning makes sense. Globally, luxury furniture markets are set to see a 4% compound annual growth rate from 2015-2019. In general, people are often willing to spend more on furniture, likely because 95.1% of people expect furniture to last a long time, according to a recent survey of 2,000 consumers. And with a stable economy, more and more homeowners are experimenting with modern architecture, furniture, and home decor.

    To cater to this trend, the festival’s founders have shifted the focus of the annual design exposition from highlighting foreign and national designs — although they will still be represented — to conversations about how to best foster the local Atlanta design industry.

    “We want to help shape the city’s growth,” McCoy said.
    The rebranded Atlanta Design Festival runs from June 2-11, 2017. To learn more, visit