Becoming a World Design Capital

Every two years, WDO launches a call inviting cities from around the globe to bid for World Design Capital and showcase how their region is effectively leveraging design as a tool for economic, social, cultural, and environmental progress. 

Working in concert with diverse stakeholders, the bid process enables WDC applicant cities to foster closer ties within their local design community and better understand what is needed for future urban development. 

Previously designated cities have utilized the WDC platform to attract investment and tourism, to promote their status as leaders in design-driven innovation, to support creative industries and to increase public awareness of the role of design in improving everyday life. 

Our Becoming a WDC guide provides more information on how to start building your bid, what it means to be shortlisted and the resources required if designated.

Interested in mobilizing your community to submit a bid? Download the WDC Mobilization Guide to get started!

Submission

Bids submitted are checked for completeness, prior to initial review. If the bid is incomplete, cities are contacted and provided one week to submit the missing material. WDO requires all applicant cities to submit a video as part of their bid to highlight key spaces in the city’s design heritage, information relating to the theme of the bid and what the city hopes to achieve.

Evaluation & shortlist

All completed bids are sent to the WDC Selection Committee, who convene to assess the merits of each bid and ultimately determine up to three shortlisted cities.

City visits

Following the announcement of the shortlist, members of the WDC Organizing Committee conduct city visits to meet with bidding city representatives and verify the information provided in the applications. Two full days are usually spent in each city.

Final selection

The final WDC selection meeting takes place approximately six months after the close of the bidding period. A report on the city visits is presented during which time the WDC Selection Committee further evaluates the quality of the shortlisted cities’ projected programmes before selecting the next World Design Capital.

Announcement of designated city

Results are kept confidential until the official announcement.

Planning & programming

Following the announcement, the newly designated city has a two-year period to prepare for the implementation of its programme of design-related events. An organizing entity is created to manage various projects and develop the identity of their event in collaboration with WDO.

Implementation

During the WDC year, WDO and the designated city collaborate to ensure the programme is effectively promoted and executed. Each city programme is unique, however, Signature Events are incorporated into each WDC year.

Bidding for World Design Capital 2028 will open in September 2024.

In their bids, cities must clearly define what they hope to achieve if selected. They must also provide a detailed account of the city’s contribution to design from an economic, social, cultural, and environmental point of view. Particular attention should be given to the requirements for government support, prior to submitting the final bid. An applicant city must specify how, during the WDC calendar year, it intends to:

  • Express the specific relevance of design for quality of life in the city
  • Ensure the mobilization and participation of large sections of the population
  • Promote dialogue between the design community and other sectors of society, such as industry, academia and youth

The submission phase is then followed by evaluation, shortlist, city visits, final selection and announcement. Previous applicants are welcome to reapply.

For more information, please contact: Eric Lauwers, WDO Programmes Manager at wdc@wdo.org.

The WDC Selection Committee assess the applications received from cities vying for the WDC designation. The group vets each bid based on a number of criteria, including the opportunities in which citizens benefit from the use of design in city planning; the city’s capacity to organize and finance a year-long programme of design events; the mobilization and participation of the wider local design community, large sectors of the population and visitors; and the city’s capacity to foster of a wider dialogue on urban revitalization strategies.

Click here to see a list of past committees.

Bidding

Can WDO share bids from previous WDC cycles?
WDO is not at liberty to share bids submitted in previous cycles. That said, previous bidding cities are welcome to share whatever they like relating to their application. For example, Taipei has information on the creative aspects of their bid book on their website, as well as a video they produced to support their bid.

Is government support required for a World Design Capital bid?
As World Design Capital is a city designation, support from the relevant level(s) of government is required.

What should be included in a bid video?
WDO requires all applicant cities to submit a video as part of their bid. It should be no more than 2:30 minutes in length and highlight places and spaces important to the city’s design heritage, information relating to the theme of the bid and what the city hopes to achieve as WDC.

Can the WDC logo be used in the application process?
The WDC logo cannot be used by any bidding city in their application or on any other related documentation or promotion. The logo and all of its usage guidelines are provided to the city once the final selection has been made.

Can we include other tourism information and supplementary documents from our partners with our bid document?
To ensure that all applications are evaluated equally, only the material as it relates to the application questions will be submitted to the Selection Committee for review.

Can two cities from the same country apply?
Two cities from the same country may apply for the designation in the same cycle. However, some countries have regulations that prevent two cities from competing with each other for the same designation. Check guidelines for bidding in your own country before submitting an application.

 

The Shortlist

How many cities are shortlisted to move on to the final selection process?
A maximum of three cities can be shortlisted. This decision is made based on the relevance and calibre of the bids received as they relate to the selection criteria. The Selection Committee first identifies the applicant cities that meet the selection criteria and, based on the information submitted, have demonstrated how they plan to mobilize their community and financial support to realistically deliver a successful programme during the designated WDC year.

Who attends the city visits?
Independent from the WDC Selection Committee, 2-3 representatives from the WDC Organizing Committee conduct the visits to the shortlisted cities.

 

Designation and WDC planning

What is the role of the Organizing Lead and its Organizing Liaison? Should he/she already be appointed at the application stage?
The Organizing Lead is the independent management team in the designated city responsible for the WDC year’s planning, implementation and promotion. The Organizing Liaison is the head of the Organizing Lead. We recommend that the Organizing Liaison be designated at least two years prior to the designated WDC year, immediately following the official designation accepted by the city. It is mandatory that an Organizing Liaison be identified within 30 days of being named WDC.

What does WDO do to help the designated city?
A professional team from WDO works closely with the designated city as soon as the city is designated WDC. They share the methodology for all the signature events, introduce the city to past World Design Capitals, and handle contract management, international sponsorships and partnerships, overall WDC programming, promotion and brand management.

Are WDC Signature Events obligatory?
WDC Signature Events are a mandatory requirement. They form the backbone of a designated city’s international programme and offer continuity from one WDC city to another. They are required and planned in collaboration with the WDC team at the WDO Secretariat.

How much money should a bidding city budget?
There is no magic number that a city should budget. Proposed budgets submitted as part of a WDC bid should include operating and programming costs, as well as an overview of the financial support that will be contributed to the project by various levels of government.

Have questions about World Design Capital? Contact us at wdc@wdo.org

Key dates

Launch

10 September 2024

Submission

28 February 2025

Evaluation & shortlisting

April-May 2025

City visits

June 2025

Selection

August 2025

Announcement

September 2025