Interdesign Monterrey 2009

12-23 October 2009

The 44th Icsid Interdesign in 38 years, “Design Avenue – A path to meaningful innovation”, took place at EGADE Graduate School of Business from 12-23 October 2009 in the city of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Hosted by Icsid Member, Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superioes de Monterrey (ITESM), the largest private university in America; where 51 participants from fifteen different countries developed strategic design solutions to the following questions:

  • How can design contribute to create meaningful innovation in a city with a strong vocation for knowledge and culture?
  • What strategies could be used to increase “a Design Culture” in a predominantly industrial city?
  • What kind of sustainable and creative business models could be implemented to show the value of design driven innovation?


Meaningful innovation should always reflect value; value perceived as such by the end user and other stake holders within the production and consumer chain. While the practice of innovation is highly desirable in any emerging society, innovation by itself is not necessarily perceived as valuable. Hundreds of products around the world are a vivid example of this principle. The concept of “Meaningful Innovation” is, therefore, centered in the final user, strategically oriented and supported by creative business models, sustainable, and socially responsible.

“Design transforms knowledge into meaningful innovation”. The idea behind this is for design to show its value in a city that has openly declared its vocation to knowledge: “Monterrey ciudad del conocimiento” (Monterrey city of knowledge). A city that is about to experience a fantastic journey of transformation from this motto to “Monterrey city of knowledge, culture and design”.

Outcomes and results

During the two-week workshop, participants demonstrated the highest level of professionalism and dedication. The diversity of experiences and international collaboration greatly enriched the creative process, nevertheless integrated on a unique concept, the teams presented strong conceptual proposals of the following items:

  • A model of public transportation for the city
  • Design concepts for two different bus types for the above model
  • Less invasive Bus Stops
  • More natural Urban Furniture
  • An involving experience for the Design Atrium
  • The Design Plaza and the Children’s Corner
  • An innovative business model for the Tianguis street market

These projects were developed by the participants up to a conceptual stage, clearly illustrated with a set of digital renderings and scale models.

The Transportation proposal consisted of two different route types: one High Capacity/Low Frequency High­Speed Bus for connecting the different municipalities of the city; one Low Capacity/High Frequency Low­Speed Shuttle Bus meant exclusively for shorter routes inside each municipality.

The Bus Stops team proposed three types of stops depending on the location and the type of route: one minimalistic approach with a bus sign and a multisensory element; one where people lay half­seated for a short period of time waiting for the bus, without interrupting the natural flow of people walking on the sidewalk, along with a panoramic roof that lets the sunlight in but at the same time protects from the elements; and another variation that allows people to seat for low frequency routes, both of the later also include the ads already present on the current bus stops in a much improved way, that gives better visibility to the add from both sides of the sidewalk and from moving vehicles.

The Urban Elements grow on the city landscape, mimicking the natural elements, and generating personal spaces inside the city. The implementation of these elements in public areas addresses our needs as individuals and as a community. They provide comfort and safety to the citizens, and order to the urban space.

The Design Atrium is formed by three self-sustaining concrete shells, an abstraction of a flower starting to blossom. Together these shells create a space and a personal experience, intended for the contemplation of an iconic monument or natural beauty of the city. It isolates some of your senses in order to highlight others, giving you a different appreciation of your surroundings.

The Design Plaza is conceived as a multi­-sensory experience, to take us back to nature. Its main element is a rising ramp that gently elevates above St. Lucia river walk to provide a great panoramic view of its surroundings; at the other end it delicately brings the river into the plaza, and disappears below the ground, with amenities (toilets, drinking water) and a service area.

The Plaza is the heart of a community; it unites culture, business, technology and people. The Children’s Corner seamlessly spreads across one side of the ramp, and the Tianguis street market takes place at the other side. The plaza is also welcoming and inclusive, providing accessibility for all.

The Tianguis is based on an innovative business model, where design students from all universities in Monterrey compete for the opportunity to sell their design products on this market for one year. Providing them with the necessary advice to start their own business; including formal registration, business strategy, and other consulting services to help guarantee their success.

All these elements of the Design Avenue have a common aim to improve the quality of life of the citizens of Monterrey, and to create new direct and indirect jobs and business opportunities. This Design Avenue model (know­-how) has been developed in a way that it could be easily adapted and replicated in other places around the world, to provide economic stability for more people.

Icsid President, Prof. Carlos Hinrichsen attended the first day of the workshop and took part in the official inauguration ceremony, and team integration. He spoke to the audience about the key opportunities for design in developing countries, to improve the quality of life and to improve the economy; he also mentioned the possibility for Monterrey to run for World Design Capital for year 2016.

Craig Vogel, Associate Dean of the School of Design of the University of Cincinnati, author of “The Design of Things to Come” (Wharton School Publishing, 2005), and “Creating Breakthrough Products” (FT Press, 2001), attended the first week of the workshop. He worked closely with the teams during the field research and the conceptual stage; he also gave a lecture about design methodology to the participants.