The International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) announced that the City of Cape Town has been designated the World Design Capital (WDC) 2014. The designated city was revealed on the closing day of the International Design Alliance Congress in Taipei. Cape Town is the fourth city to hold this biennial appointment and marks the first for the African continent.
Awarded to cities based on their commitment to use design as an effective tool for social, cultural and economic development, the WDC has become more than just a project or a programme. Today, it is a global movement and serves to acknowledge that design can, and does, impact the quality of human life. "It is encouraging to see how Cape Town plans to use design as a tool to solve urban challenges," stated Dr. Mark Breitenberg, Icsid President and Member of the Selection Committee. "I am confident that this new member of the WDC family will demonstrate to the world how design is expanding in application and influence."
For Cape Town, the WDC appointment comes exactly two decades after reaching democracy. "2014, then, is the moment when the past and the future will come together for Cape Town, in contemplation and in action," commented Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Ms. Patricia de Lille. "It is a reflection of how the city has socially and physically reinvented itself." Cape Town's vision of design is based on socially responsible design, sustainability and innovation. As part of their bid, the theme "Live Design. Transform Life" was introduced in support of Cape Town's objective to focus on enhancing the city's infrastructure to make it a more liveable African City.
Shortlisted candidate cities, Bilbao (Spain) and Dublin (Ireland) also mounted compelling bids. "The decision for the Selection Committee was not easy given the high calibre of the bids that were considered amongst the final candidates," added Dr. Breitenberg. "The promise of Cape Town's approach to broaden the scope of the World Design Capital and shape the future of this initiative, were the deciding factors that ultimately led to the city's appointment for 2014. Cape Town has the strongest claim on a new chapter for Icsid as the World Design Capital. 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."
Cape Town is a growing and vibrant city, where design has for decades been a significant factor in its desire to build an open city. The marriage of need and innovative design has resulted in unique solutions to address the issues of a developing city. Design in Cape Town is also reaching beyond city limits by aspiring to become the design hub for South Africa and for the African continent.