1950s – Foundation

1953 – 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.

1957 – Icsid was officially founded on 29 June at a special meeting in London, under the name International Council of Societies of Industrial Designers. The organization was officially registered in Paris where the Secretariat was set up at 17 Quai Voltaire.

1959 – The first Icsid Congress and General Assembly were held in Stockholm, Sweden where the Icsid Constitution and first definition of industrial design were officially adopted. By then membership had grown to 23 members from 17 countries. The name of the organization was also changed to the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design.

1960s – Rapid Growth

Icsid continued to grow quickly and by the end of the decade included over 40 members from more than 30 countries. Icsid became an inclusive and truly outward-looking organization that transcended political boundaries.

1963 – 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.

1964–1968 – Icsid held four seminars (Belgium, Germany, USA, Argentina) to examine the issues surrounding academic standards for the burgeoning profession of industrial design in order to make recommendations and propose standards.

1961-1963 Icsid Executive Board at the 1961 Congress in Venice (Italy).
Icsid's logo from the 1970s to the 1980s.
Broadcasting station at the Congress in Kyoto (Japan), 1973.

1970s – A Bridge Between Worlds

1971 – 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.

1973 – 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.

1974 – Icsid receives special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The Secretariat moved to Brussels, at 34 Avenue Legrand.

1980s – Organizational Consolidation

1981 – The first joint Icsid and International Council of Graphic Design Associations (Icograda), and the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI) Congress was held in Helsinki, leading to a closer working relationship in the years to come.

1985 – The Secretariat moved to Helsinki, at 1D Kluuvikatu.

1985 – Icsid and UNESCO, in coordination with Icograda, organized a first joint Interdesign on the topic of basic medical equipment for developing countries.

Icsid's revised logo in the 1980s. Notice the curved ends of the "C" and the "S" are now aligned.
The Interdesign group in Seoul (South Korea) in 1999.

1990s – A Changing World

Icsid continued to develop its role on the international stage, hosting congresses and Interdesigns in all areas of the world. The Board and members also increasingly paid attention to issues related to the value of design in business, environmental sustainability, and intellectual property.

1992 – At the World Congress in Ljubljana, Icsid turned its attention to the issue of intellectual property holding a first session on design protection.

1995 – The education and corporate pillars were created in the Constitution, highlighting the ongoing importance of Icsid’s educational and corporate members.

2000s – Programme Expansion

2003 – 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.

2005 – After an extensive bidding process involving 34 applications from cities around the world, the Secretariat moved to Montreal, at 455 St-Antoine Street West.

2007 – 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.

2008 – 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.

Icsid updated its identity when it formed the International Design Alliance with Icograda (now Ico-D) in 2003.
The 2003-2005 Board inaugurates the opening of their new head office in Montreal (Canada) in 2005. From L-R: Gianfranco Zaccai, Michael Thomson, Robin Edman, Mark Breitenberg, Peter Zec, Luigi Ferrara, Giuliano Molineri, Adrienne Viljoen, Carlos Hinrichsen.
The first World Design Capital® was held in Torino (Italy) in 2008.
Ms. Janice Muthui and Ms. Deborah Donde have accepted the first World Design Impact Prize during the World Design Capital Helsinki 2012 Design Gala.
The World Design Talks held in Toluca (Mexico) in 2017.

2010s – A Renewed Sense of Purpose

2012 –  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.

2013 – 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.

2015 – 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.

2016 – 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.

2017 – On 1 January, Icsid officially became World Design Organization.

The World Design Medal™ was established on the occasion of WDO’s 60th anniversary to honour an individual who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of the industrial design profession. The Medal was presented to German industrial designer Hartmut Esslinger at the 30th World Design Assembly in Torino.


2020 – As a virtual iteration of WDO’s Interdesign programme, World Design Challenges were  established in 2020 in response to the global COVID-19 lockdowns to safely and effectively engage the global design community. Collaborating alongside partners like IBM, Design for America, UN Women Asia and the Pacific, ISS National Laboratory and World Packaging Organisation, WDO has since hosted four World Design Challenges to explore design’s impact on public health, gender equality, space-led innovation and sustainable packaging.

With the goal of harnessing the creativity and ambition of the next generation of design leaders and educators across multiple disciplines and regions, WDO established its Young Designers Circle in 2020. Aligned with our mission to design for a better world, and objectives to promote the use of design to help meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), the programme has since connected more than 50 young designers from over 20 different countries.

2021 – The WDO Foundation™ was established as a new expression of the organization’s mission to empower design-led innovation around the world and foster a more connected, sustainable way forward. In November 2021, an in-person launch event was held in Montreal (Canada) to share perspectives and insights around how this new branch of WDO’s vision will impact the future of design internationally.

2022 – On 29 June, WDO celebrated its 65th anniversary. Reflecting on more than six decades of championing design for a better world, WDO celebrated under the theme of leadership, hosting a 24-hour virtual event, let’s talk: leadership, for World Industrial Design Day. Messages of congratulations from designers from around the world, including WDO’s leadership team, also commemorated this important milestone.

WDO inaugurated a second cycle of its World Design Medal to continue its legacy of honouring an individual who has made a significant contribution to the advancement of the industrial design profession. American industrial designer Dr. Patricia Moore was announced as the recipient on 29 June, World Industrial Design Day.

David Kusuma (virtually) shares a gift with outgoing President Srini Srinivasan to thank him for his dedication and service to WDO. The gifts represent projects that took place over Srinivasan’s term as President: a blue beret from the UN, calling back to the first World Design Challenge with UN Women Asia Pacific and a NASA jacket from WDO’s work with the International Space Station.
Internationally renowned designer and gerontologist Dr. Patricia Moore was named as the recipient of the 2022 World Design Medal™ for her significant contributions to the advancement of the industrial design profession.