Cape Town celebrated the arrival of 1 January with a New Year’s Eve of Design party, welcoming 2014 and with it, the city’s official status as World Design Capital. Nearly 100,000 people gathered in the Grande Parade to view a spectacular light show and 3D mapping on the façade of City Hall celebrating this designation.

Cape Town Design NPC, the organisation managing the WDC title locally shares what you need to know about the programme and what not to miss when you visit Cape Town this year.


Q: Who can participate in the 465 projects listed? Are the majority of the events free, or should people register in advance?  

The general public and visitors to Cape Town can participate in the 120+ individual events included in the programme. Events range from open and free for the public events to workshops, conferences and talks that require the purchase of tickets or registration. Each project that has been selected as part of the programme on a whole has their own system. Keep your eyes on our website for more information.


Q: So what’s in the programme and what can you expect when you arrive in Cape Town?

It is about conferences, conventions, collaborations, challenges and competitions.  It’s about exhibitions, workshops, dialogues (formal and informal), films, publications and photography.  Incubators and hubs will provide very practical training, office space, Internet access and mentorship – but also an environment where there can be sharing and transference of skill and knowledge.

All these platforms, but what’s the content? Recycling solutions, upcycled products, hard waste, software, memory projects, public infrastructure, social cohesion projects, low cost housing, large scale developments, human dignity, public art, services redesigned, spaces – big and small redefined and redesigned, heritage tours, urban tours, open streets, open studios. There are examples of health facilities creating new spaces, new systems and new ways of serving their audiences. Long-term regeneration projects.  There are design projects around educational spaces and educational methodologies aimed at early learning, high school and tertiary students; low-cost feature phones and low energy computers; translation apps, literacy apps, transport apps.

And it is also about beautiful things – those things we typically associate with the word ‘design’, like art, objects, food and wine. Those things whose purpose may solely be to lift the human spirit.

So it is a programme that brings together the people and the processes; the problems and the solutions; the gritty and the pretty.


Q: What’s the sentiment in Cape Town? Are people excited? Is there a lot of promotion from the city, banners, signage about World Design Capital?

Cape Town has welcomed WDC 2014 with streetpole flags and already wide publicity in all the popular newspapers & magazines. At the Victoria & Albert Waterfront which is a very popular tourist and local destination for all Cape Townians, the Clock Tower (a heritage site) has been painted yellow and will function as a information hub for WDC 2014 showcasing interesting projects and demonstrating transformative design through our messages.  Everyone in Cape Town is very excited to embark on our transformative design journey.


Q: Is there a design district in Cape Town? What are some of the must-see spaces for tourists specifically from a design background?

The Fringe is largely considered as the innovation/design district of the city. We have the Maboneng Townships Arts Experience, Future Tyger and eKhaya LeLanga as recognised projects that are looking to create ‘new’ hubs and take design outside of the central business district but they aren’t formally considered the design district.


Q: What is a must-see destination in Cape Town outside of design?

There are a many worthwhile stops if you’re in Cape Town: Table Mountain, the winelands, Robben Island, Chapmans Peak Drive, Khayelitsha township tour.

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About World Design Capital® (WDC)
While there are many awards that recognise individual accomplishments in design, the World Design Capital designation is unique as it aims to focus on the broader essence of design’s impact on urban spaces, economies and citizens. The designation provides a distinctive opportunity for cities to feature their accomplishments in attracting and promoting innovative design, as well as highlight their successes in urban revitalisation strategies. The World Design Capital is an initiative established and managed by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design. In 2014, World Design Capital is Cape Town (South Africa), past cities to hold the title include Torino (Italy) in 2008, Seoul (South Korea) in 2010 and Helsinki (Finland) in 2012 whilst preparations for  Taipei (Taiwan, Chinese Taipei) in 2016 are underway.