Cape Town: 2014 World Design Capital

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27 October 2011

Cape Town beat off competition from Dublin and Bilbao to be named as the World Design Capital for 2014 at the International Design Alliance Congress in Taipei, Taiwan on Wednesday.

The Cape Town Partnership started the World Design Capital bidding process over a year ago, on behalf of the City of Cape Town. A bid committee was tasked to frame the theme of the bid and to source content and case studies for the bid book. It included design case studies in the Stellenbosch area.

On 31 March this year, the 465-page bid book was formally submitted to the International Council for Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) in Canada, with the theme, “Live Design. Transform Life”.

“It is an honour for me to be addressing you here today as mayor of the first African city to be named a World Design Capital,” Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille said at the congress on Wednesday. “A city belongs to its people and it must be designed for and with them and their communities.”

De Lille said that people had been using design for many years to transform various aspects of life, but they have often been working without an overarching social goal in mind.

“The World Design Capital bid process and title have helped to bring different initiatives together and have made us realise that design in all its forms, when added together, creates human and city development,” she said.

She said that the World Design Capital designation would give cities like Cape Town additional motivation to actively think of transformative design in development plans.

“We look forward to learning from other cities that are using design as a tool for transformation, including past winners Torino, Seoul and Helsinki and our fellow short-listed cities, Dublin and Bilbao,” she said. “We are honoured to have been considered with them.”

Celebrating 20 years of democracy

Explaining the importance of the year 2014, De Lille said it would be the celebration of 20 years of democracy in South Africa. “That celebration will allow for a time of reflection, to think about how far we have come as a country and a city.

“We will also be positioning ourselves to plan for the future. The next 20 years, and the 20 years after that, demand nothing less if we are to prosper as a city and a society and truly mature into our full potential.”

She explained to delegates that South African cities were designed over decades to divide people, but since the dawn of democracy, there has been a focus on bringing people together and creating sustainable cities that foster real social inclusion.

“In 2014, we will channel that energy into a series of events that celebrate design as a driver of social and economic change in the urban environment,” she said. “We invite the global design community to become a part of our design journey, in our city, in Africa and in the world.”

Public and private sector support

Cape Town’s bid has gained widespread public and private sector support as it provides the opportunity to embed design thinking into urban development planning for social and economic growth.

The accolade will also enhance Cape Town’s reputation globally as being a place that is known for more than just its natural beauty.

Previous World Design Capital title holders have seen increased visitor numbers as a result of the designation. Torino, Italy, World Design Capital for 2008, reported higher visitor numbers in their title year – which coincided with the global economic downturn – than in 2006, when they hosted the Winter Olympics.

“It has been a long and rewarding journey to get to this point,” said Cape Town Partnership MD Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana. “The real key to our success has been the partnerships that have been forged during the bid process, and the unwavering support of the City of Cape Town and the Provincial Government of the Western Cape.”

Repositioning Cape Town

“Being named World Design Capital for 2014 is a unique opportunity for us to reposition Cape Town on the world stage as a city of innovation, creativity and caring – and to continue to foster and promote our design industries at home and abroad,” Makalima-Ngewana said.

The World Design Capital 2014 title results in a year-long programme of design-focused events that will see creative communities across the globe turning to Cape Town for social, economic and cultural solutions. These connections are vital in the long-term links the city will secure with global role-players within creative industries.

This win also highlights how design innovation has led to growth in the Stellenbosch area, taking the bid beyond the city’s borders to acknowledge the design assets of the region.

Said Stellenbosch Mayor Conrad Sidego from Taipei, where the theme of the IDA Congress is “Design at the Edges”: “The edge is where design of the past and design of the future meet – in this moment we have the opportunity to shape a new design legacy for our region.”

SAinfo reporter

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