Highlights of WDO’s 30th General Assembly



Member Organizations



Different Countries









World Design Agenda




Years as the
World Body of Industrial Design

Grazie Torino!

On 14-15 October 2017, WDO held its 30th General Assembly and 60th Anniversary celebration in the City of Torino, Italy, the first ever World Design Capital® (WDC) in 2008. Our warmest thanks go out to the City of Torino and its Tourism and Convention Bureau for hosting our international membership at the UN International Training Centre, as well as for organizing the Torino Design of the City series of events from 10-16 October 2017.

If it looks like we’re not paying attention, guess again.

Thanks to the WDO app, we went paperless!

This not only increased interaction and collaboration among our members, but it also enabled members who were not able to cast their vote in the Board elections and share in the GA experience. 

Not to mention, it enabled us to reduce printing by 40% this year!

Lille Metropole named
World Design Capital 2020

Lille Metropole, France was named  World Design Capital® 2020, for its use of design to drive economic, social, cultural, and environmental development. Their bid stood out for embracing collaborative, human-centred design practices in order to improve the lives of their residents, make local companies more attractive, and optimize urban transport and public spaces.

Member Workshops

WDO members participated in a series of workshops on WDO’s International programming, including World Design Capital®, World Design Talks™, World Industrial Design Day™, World Design Impact Prize™ and Interdesign™. Their feedback will be used to help strengthen WDO Programming.

Election of new Board

Luisa Bocchietto, the second female President to lead the organization since Dr. Mai Felip-Hösselbarth in 1993-1995, announced the newly elected 2017-2019 Board of Directors.

Achieving the SDGs by Design 

In line with our vision to create a better world, this year’s GA was about showcasing the way our community is already using design-led innovation to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs. We explored 3 SDGs in particular.

Members heard from three corporations who spoke about the pivotal role designers can play in retrofitting industries to make them more sustainable and resource efficient, and adopting clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes.


Three panellists—an engineer, industrial designer and architect—showcased the importance of working with a broad range of stakeholders, using some of the design tools we take for granted, to address urban challenges.

The speakers all reflected on the concept of sustainability and designing for what matters. They noted that people are increasingly holding companies, institutions and schools to account for designing, consuming and producing more responsibly.

Designing the World Design Medal

Our thanks to WDO Member Tiller Design of Sydney, Australia for so graciously designing the medal that was presented to Hartmut Esslinger. 

Established in 1997, Tiller Design is a creative, multi-award winning industrial design and product commercialization consultancy. Its professional team of Industrial Designers and Engineers has completed hundreds of in product design, manufacturing, and commercialization of medical devices, mining equipment, consumer goods, sporting equipment and business equipment.   

We spoke to Robert Tiller who spoke to us about the inspiration behind the World Design Medal and about some of the challenges of being an industrial designer in today’s rapidly changing world.  

Q: What was the inspiration behind the design of the World Design Medal? Tell us a bit about the materials you selected and how you felt when approached to design the medal. 

A: Tiller Design has been a WDO member for two years; it was a pleasure to be asked to design the Medal. To contribute in a small way to the recognition awarded to Hartmut Esslinger was great fun. The Medal (created by our senior industrial designer Lisa Gyecsek) was designed to reflect a simple organic form. Inspiration was taken from a river pebble. Something that feels nice to hold. When discovered, picked up, a simple pebble can hold inherent value for the person who found it. It can become an object that represents time and memories. We hope the Medal feels like a found treasured object crafted over time, to reflect the ideas and career of Hartmut Esslinger. The materials were selected for their simplistic beauty and physical presence. Natural Teak for the box and the medal is polished 24K Gold plated brass. Nobel materials for a noble task – to represent the best in global design over a sustained period. 


Q: Tell us a bit about your company’s vision and mission. 

A: Being based in Australia makes us look to the world for opportunities. We have been fortunate in the past 20 years, running projects around the world in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Australia and the USA—not only enjoying interesting projects but also making great friends and enjoying cultural diversity. We are driven (in a complex world) to create meaning and connection to the work and projects we are involved in. Above all to find balance between the commercial goals, the possibilities within design and the impact the design will have on people, our clients and our collective environment. 


Q: What are some of the challenges of being an industrial designer in today’s rapidly changing world? Have you noticed a shift towards more responsible consumption and production? 

A: We are constantly challenged in our profession, by global issues, technology expansion, globalization of markets and services, the short product life cycles, the price of good Gin. After 20 years of running an Industrial Design business, I’m always amazed at how diverse and nimble we have to be. The simple truth is we’ve always been diverse and embraced challenging problems. It’s the nature of designers everywhere I think. An open mind and respect for challenges change brings is an essential ingredient for good designers. I work to help people reconnect to the world, to drive better understanding of our impacts both positive and negative. We do this in every part of our project work; we seek connection and meaning for the work and things we create. The changes in the world are inevitable and exciting; the challenges created give the substance for another meaningful day at the office. 


Q: What are some of the benefits of belonging to an international organization that promotes design for a better world? 

A: I recognize that in order to stay connected to the global design profession we must look out beyond our own country; this we do happily and have done for many decades. I hope joining the WDO under the new brand and direction represents opportunities to meet new friends and to collaborate with like-minded people across the world. Ultimately I’m hopeful Industrial Design can be a driving force in addressing problems and that we can all create a positive legacy.  

60th Anniversary Celebration

We turned 60 this year and celebrated in a big way in Torino. On 29 June 1957, we were officially created by 12 members to represent the interests of the industrial design community. Of those founding members, three are still members of WDO today: the Associazione per il Disegno Industriale in Italy, the Association of Canadian Industrial Designers in Canada, and the Japan Industrial Designers’ Association in Japan. Check out our Photo Gallery to see more.

The 30th General Assembly provided a great platform for dialogue. Through these and other exchanges, we believe that design can have a significant impact on social change. 

But don’t just take our word for it…


Design is a collaborative process for urban transformation. It has helped us improve our relationships with our citizens.
- Martine Aubry, Mayor of Lille and Vice President in charge of international relations for Lille Métropole


Designers are a bridge, between people with money, the decision makers, and the people who know what they really want.
- Ali Grehan, Dublin City Architect, Ireland


Designers have to find ways to use technology in a way that is humanistic, social, adoptable and sustainable. Technology will eventually become obsolete but human relationships will always remain.
– Hartmut Esslinger, WDO World Design Medal recipient