On 29 June 1957, we were officially created by 12 founding members to represent the interests of industrials designers. Since then we have grown to over 140 member organizations in 40 different countries all around the world. From our first Interdesign in 1971 to our first World Design Capital in 2008 and our first World Design Talks in 2016, we continue to champion the power of design to improve lives.

Learn more about our organization’s rich history below.


International Council of Societies of Industrial Designers
The idea to create an international body representing the interests of industrial designers was first presented by Jacques Vienot at the Institut d’Esthetique Industrielle’s international congress in 1953. A more formal commitment on the part of his colleagues and counterparts at other national design associations was made at a further international meeting in 1955. But it was not until June 29, 1957 at a special meeting in London that Icsid was officially founded, under the name of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Designers. This name, coupled with the fact that the twelve founding members were all national professional design associations, demonstrates the spirit with which Icsid was established – to protect the interests of practicing designers and to ensure global standards of design. The individuals that were elected to the first Executive Board therefore did not act upon personal conviction, but rather they represented the voice of their own society members and national design community.

Soon after this meeting, the organization was officially registered in Paris and the Secretariat was set-up at 17 Quai Voltaire. Icsid’s early aims were to raise the status of industrial designers, to raise the standard of industrial design by setting standards for training and education, and to encourage cooperation between industrial designers.


First Congress, Birth of Icsid Constitution, Definition of Industrial Design
In September of 1959 the first Icsid Congress and General Assembly were held in Stockholm Sweden. The Congress was the first of what would become the largest world event in Icsid’s calendar – one that still continues to this day. The Congress and GA were restricted solely to Icsid members, which had already grown to 23 societies from 17 countries. It was on this occasion that the Icsid Constitution was officially adopted.

The first iteration of the the definition of industrial design was determined

This was the beginning of Icsid’s role in shaping industrial design. The General Assembly also voted to change Icsid’s name from the International Council of Societies of Industrial Designers to the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design. The change would allow the future growth of the organization beyond matters of professional practice.


Icsid was granted special consultative status with UNESCO, with whom Icsid would subsequently work on many developmental projects, using design for the betterment of the human condition.


The 1960s also witnessed a growth within Icsid’s membership to include a number of non-capitalist countries of the time. This changed Icsid’s outlook from being somewhat insular to being an inclusive and truly outward-looking organization that transcended political boundaries. In this sense, Icsid became a bridge between two worlds, where industrial designers from all backgrounds could meet, exchange and learn from one another. Icsid members relished in the spirit of collaboration that was inspired by the inclusive nature of Icsid’s work. By 1968, Icsid organized four seminars to examine the issues at stake with defining academic standards for a new profession and to make recommendations for the future. The work from each of these seminars was instrumental to Icsid’s ability to counsel and advise its members on industrial design education standards.


The idea for a new type of seminar bringing together industrial designers from around the world to study a problem of both regional and international significance resulted in the first Interdesign workshop in Minsk, in the former USSR. This was the first of many such workshops that helped consolidate Icsid’s position as a driving force of international collaboration.


The Kyoto Congress, which attracted 2 000 delegates, and the General Assembly, both hosted by the Japan Industrial Designers’ Association, continued to cement Icsid’s role as bridge-builder. The event was revolutionary for the organization as it brought the Western and Asian design worlds together for the first time on Asian soil.


Icsid receives official consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).

Icsid Secretariat moved from Paris to Brussels, at 34 avenue Legrand.


The first joint Icsid/Icograda/IFI Congress was held in Helsinki in 1981. This event was the direct result of the recommendation made by Icsid members to explore closer ties with other world design organizations. At their respective General Assemblies, unanimously approved a directive to investigate options for a closer working relationship in the future.


The Secretariat moved to Helsinki, at 1D Kluuvikatu.
A groundbreaking Interdesign was held by Icsid and UNESCO and in coordination with Icograda. The issue under investigation was the design of basic medical equipment for developing countries. The seminar brought together 4 doctors, 14 industrial and graphic designers, and 7 assistants to develop designs for basic furniture for rural health centres, packaging, transport, refrigeration, and injection of vaccines and the design of data collecting devices for field use. This Interdesign served as further evidence of the power of design as a tool for development in developing countries, and the role that Interdesign play in this.


Through the 1990s Icsid continued to develop its role on the international stage, hosting congresses in Slovenia, Scotland, Taiwan, Canada and Australia. Interdesigns were held on themes as broad as design strategies for regional development, transportation for the future and sports and leisure in Europe, Asia and Africa.


Icsid and Icograda united to create the International Design Alliance (IDA), a strategic venture between the international organizations representing design. In 2008, the IDA welcomed the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI) to the alliance.


The Icsid Secretariat left Europe for the first time in its history, settling in Montreal, Canada in May of that year. The move followed an extensive bid process, in which 34 cities made an application to become the host country of the joint Icsid and Icograda Secretariat.


On the occasion of Icsid’s 50th anniversary, World Industrial Design Day was launched to highlight the impact of industrial design on economic, social, cultural, and environmental development. It has since been celebrated every 29 June around the world.


The World Design Capital® designation was born as Torino piloted the first year-long programme meant to celebrate the accomplishments of cities that have used design as a tool to reinvent themselves and improve citizen’s quality of life.


The first World Design Impact Prize was awarded to the Community Cooker. Icsid created the Prize to promote the expanded field of industrial design and the profession’s ability to have an impact on quality of life.


The International Design Alliance (IDA) was dissolved. Icsid decided to focus its limited financial resources to develop innovative models for international collaboration with organizations closely aligned with the industrial design profession.


The General Assembly in Gwangju, South Korea marked a renewal of Icsid’s longstanding commitment to design for a better world. Adopting the name World Design Organization along with a renewed Constitution, the world body for industrial design is poised to become a more accessible organization, open to the wider design community.


This year marked the beginning of the World Design Talks, workshops that address local challenges with global relevance—such as rapid urbanization, climate change, and migration—from a design perspective.


Icsid officially became World Design Organization, with a renewed mission and vision aligning and working towards the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.