Cape Town (South Africa)– Cape Town was today officially appointed World Design Capital 2014 with the signing of the Host City Agreement by Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town, Alderman Patricia de Lille, and International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) President Soon-in Lee. This is the first time an African city has earned the title.

The historic Signing Ceremony took place at Freeworld Design Centre in Cape Town and was attended by an official Icsid delegation, as well as members of the media and representatives of the design industry, government, business, academia and community organisations.

Addressing the gathering, Mayor De Lille said, “What is design but the application of our humanity, and the search for excellence, elegance and solutions to the problems that we face? We don’t build cities in the ideal mode and expect them to remain that way. Cities don’t work like that. And neither does design. Humanity and all of its variety happens in between. Cities grow organically. We combine our natural energy and growth with the deliberate purpose of design. We use what we have to get to what we want. We change the inevitable by combining with the aspirational.”

In his speech, Icsid President Soon-in Lee noted the significance of the World Design Capital designation: “This is a very exciting time for South Africa and indeed for the African region as a whole. As the world looks to Cape Town over the course of the next few years, many exciting opportunities will be presented to the city to shape and make relevant within its own context. Our aspiration for the city is to continue to provide a platform that will empower Cape Town to be a leading example on the international stage, to encourage designers from diverse backgrounds and communities to share ideas and transform objectives into realities. We have no doubt that Cape Town will bring its own unique vision to the project, making all Capetonians and citizens of this region very proud.”

Icsid President Lee cited Cape Town’s bid focus on social transformation as the determining factor for the city’s success. “Design needs to offer real solutions to real problems. Cape Town demonstrated a deep understanding of this in their bid. They put human-focused design at the centre of the solution for social transformation.”

The Signing Ceremony was timed to coincide with World Industrial Design Day, an Icsid initiative, and the 55th anniversary of the international organisation. Cape Town’s World Design Capital designation will also come at a milestone moment, with 2014 marking the anniversary of 20 years of democracy in South Africa.

Mayor de Lille concluded her speech by noting the importance of partnerships: “The task of transforming the city is one that requires the energies of as many partners as possible, within our borders and without. Design is not about central planning. It is about networks that jointly make up an attitude, an approach and a direction. The product of those networks combined is what will transform this city. We sign on behalf of those partners. And we sign on behalf of the people of Cape Town. Above all, we sign for a new way of thinking, one that sees opportunities, not obstacles, challenges not dead-ends, and the roadway for other cities to follow in building a better future.”

Cape Town is the fourth city to be designated a World Design Capital, following in the footsteps of Torino, Italy (2008); Seoul, South Korea (2010) and Helsinki, Finland (2012).

The Signing Ceremony also saw the unveiling of Cape Town’s official World Design Capital 2014 logo, featuring the colour that defined Cape Town’s bid, yellow – a colour signifying optimism and hope, and representing Cape Town’s urban future.


Spokesperson for the Executive Mayor of Cape Town, Alderman Patricia de Lille:
Solly Malatsi
t: +021 400 1382 or +083 943 1449

Released for the Cape Town Partnership by Rabbit in a Hat Communications
t: +021 448 9705 or +083 414 0552

For more information on Icsid or World Design Capital, please contact:
Natalie Dutil
Icsid Communications Officer
t: +1 514 448 4949 ext. 223

About the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid)

The International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) is a non-profit organisation that protects and promotes the interests of the profession of industrial design. Founded in 1957, Icsid serves as a unified voice of over 50 nations through which members can express their views and be heard on an international platform. Since its inception, Icsid has continued to develop its wide-reaching network of students and professionals devoted to the recognition, success and growth of the industrial design community. Together, professional associations, promotional societies, educational institutions, government bodies and corporations create a comprehensive and diverse system on the forefront of industrial design education and progress.

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. Past cities to hold the title include Torino (Italy) in 2008 and Seoul (South Korea) in 2010. The City of Helsinki (Finland) is currently implementing its programme for 2012 under the theme of Open Helsinki: Embedding Design in Life, whilst preparations for Cape Town (South Africa) are underway for 2014.