Cape Town named World Design Capital 2014

Cape Town has trumped Spain’s Bilbao and Dublin in Ireland to be named Design Capital 2014 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design.

The announcement was made on the closing day of the International Design Alliance Congress in Taipei. Cape Town is the fourth city and first African city to be awarded the title.
The title is given biennially to cities based on their commitment to use design as an effective tool for social, cultural and economic development.

The current holder of the title is Seoul, South Korea with Helsinki, Finland already named as the 2012 World Design Capital.

Accepting the title on the city’s behalf, executive mayor of Cape Town Patricia de Lille said that it was significant that the city would carry the title in the 20th year of democracy in South Africa. “The year 2014, then, is the moment when the past and the future will come together for Cape Town, in contemplation and in action. It is a reflection of how the city has socially and physically reinvented itself.

“We are grateful for the World Design Capital bid process and title. It has helped to bring different initiatives together and has made us realise that design in all its forms, when added together, creates human and city development. We look forward to learning from other cities that are using design as a tool for transformation, including designated cities Torino, Seoul and Helsinki and our fellow shortlisted cities, Dublin and Bilbao. We are honoured to have been considered with them.”

A liveable African city
As World Design Capital 2014, Cape Town will be host to a number of prestigious design-related events and conferences organised by the design council and a local committee. These include the Design Gala, which will showcase design innovation from Cape Town, and the WDC International Design Conference. There is no monetary award, and Cape Town will be required to pay a licencing fee of €150 000 to the design council over three years.

Cape Town’s bid for the title was a joint effort between the City of Cape Town, the Central City Improvement District, and the Cape Town Partnership. It focused on enhancing the city’s infrastructure to make it a more liveable African city.

It stated: “Ours is a proudly African bid, with the ultimate goal of achieving a sustainable, inclusive and more liveable African city, rooted in the strengths of our people and communities — to ‘Live Design. Transform Life’.”

On awarding the title, the design council’s president and selection committee member Mark Breitenberg said: “It is encouraging to see how Cape Town plans to use design as a tool to solve urban challenges. I am confident that this new member of the WDC family will demonstrate to the world how design is expanding in application and influence.

“The story of transformation is about sustainability, urban development and embracing a global community in light of its drive to improve its social and economic environment. We expect tangible benefits will be reaped to help reposition Cape Town on an international scale.”


For more details about the Cape Town bid see the official website.

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