Being named a World Design Capital bears a prestigious status. The title is designated biennially by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (CSID) to cities that are dedicated to using design for social, cultural, and economic development.
The announcement is pivotal for Cape Town’s reputation as a destination that has adopted design for transformation and social cohesion. Design as a principle for changing lives began with the end of apartheid and, increasingly, has become a guiding philosophy in the repositioning of Cape Town as a sustainable city, committed to a journey to improve the quality of life of all its citizens.
Cape Town Tourism greeted the news with great enthusiasm. Said CEO, Mariette du Toit-Helmbold: “This is a significant moment for Cape Town. Our shortlisting is an acknowledgement that design is an asset and a massive catalyst to align different sectors across the city with the ultimate goal of making Cape Town a more liveable city. Many people associate Cape Town with our beautiful natural surrounds, but design and innovation is leading the way for us to become a city that people are increasingly choosing to explore and discover from an urban context.
“More than half the world’s population lives in cities, and urban tourism dominates the international tourism landscape; over 70% of international tourism spend occurs in urban areas. Cities are incubators of innovation and ideas, epicenters of modern, living culture. Design is increasingly becoming a fundamental tool to ensure that Cape Town is more competitive, liveable, and efficient.
“Cape Town’s position as innovation hub sets us apart from any other South African and African city. As Cape Town moves into the future, we are convinced that it will become an ever more exciting place to live in, work in, and visit.
“Design is one of the fundamental pillars of the positioning of Cape Town as a place of inspiration. As with the World Cup, the bid process has given us a common platform to elevate Cape Town’s place on the world’s stage. We urge all Capetonians to get behind the bid. Citizen support and ownership will be key to the success of our bid.”
The story at the heart of Cape Town’s bid theme is about the city’s use of design to overturn the negative legacies of its colonial and apartheid past that saw design dividing people, disconnecting the city, and relegating both people of color and the urban poor to its fringes. This both denied these people equitable access to resources and opportunities, not least the opportunity of making their own contributions to a better city. It also made the country a pariah in the eyes of the world, and excluded it from many opportunities to engage in the globalizing economy.
At a handover ceremony of the World Design Capital 2014 Bid Book from City to Provincial hands, Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille commented on the accolade: “We are building an inclusive city, one based around 5 pillars: the opportunity city, the safe city, the caring city, the inclusive city, and the efficient city. Design is a tool for all of these areas of transformation. It is able to inform us as to how we can best provide employment and upliftment to improve the quality of life of our citizens.”
With predecessors such as Seoul, Korea (2010), and Helsinki, Finland (2012), proving that living design can, in fact, transform lives, Cape Town’s status as a top 3 contender shifts the city onto a new world platform and into a new era.
The Cape Town Partnership (who has been mandated to manage the bid), the city of Cape Town, and Cape Town Tourism will now host a delegation of World Design Capital 2014 judges in the city between July 10-24, 2011. An important stage in the process, this is when the content of the Bid Book and the city’s priorities, in terms of design as a tool for social transformation, will tread its proving ground. The World Design Capital 2014 winner will be announced on October 26, 2011.
Extracts from the Cape Town World Design Capital 2014 Bid Book are available on www.capetown2014.co.za and case studies for design in Cape Town can be viewed at www.capetown2014.co.za/gallery/ .