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CDI is a multi-campus research center of the University of North Carolina system, building on strengths of the UNC School of the Arts and Winston-Salem State University, with Forsyth Technical Community College


In 2003 a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy recommended accelerating the growth of design-intensive businesses in northwest North Carolina. The goal is to transition the economy from reliances on tobacco, textiles and furniture manufacturing toward emphases on knowledge-based services and creative enterprises.

In 2005 the University of North Carolina responded by establishing the Center for Design Innovation. We aim to create new businesses and jobs, and to improve education and health care through design research and practice.

A 2005 study identified focuses for this advanced technology facility. CDI contributors work across disciplines, institutions and economic sectors to push the boundaries of existing knowledge and practice.

Techniques in motion capture and analysis, data visualization and modeling, and rapid prototyping support creative activity to generate designs for animation for films and video games, interaction strategies for screen-based media, and industrial designs for products such as furnishings, machinery, medical devices, and eventually, responsive objects and environments.

In 2007 CDI's staff began operations at an interim site in downtown Winston-Salem, initializing research and design projects with associated courses, workshops, seminars, and public events.

The 2010 land acquisition in the Piedmont Triad Research Park launched a renewed emphasis on architectural design of the CDI building and preparation for operations at the permanent facility. 


To be a catalyst for transformation in North Carolina's Piedmont Triad region, recognized internationally for its preeminence in design and setting an international example of how design can be an engine for economic development


To create an environment in which diverse constituents generate, develop and translate creative thinking in order to foster the growth of education, research and commercial enterprises


To be mindful of the ecologies of social and environmental dynamics, striving for openness, dynamism, flexibility, diversity and collaboration in every relationship


To generate and facilitate design-focused creativity, education, research and entrepreneurial activity in order to act as a design- based business cluster accelerator.


Carol Strohecker, Director