Why Lille Metropole

Design is a tool of empathy and action. It engages us in a new form of collective and practical experimentation. Projects from Lille Métropole 2020, World Design Capital have paved the way for our region to be progressing towards an economy that is more creative, more frugal in its consumption of resources, more responsible and more collaborative.– Damien Castelain, President of Lille Metropole 2020, World Design Capital 

Located in the heart of Northern Europe, less an hour and a half from London, Paris and Brussels, the European Metropolis of Lille (MEL) is composed of 95 towns and villages, gathering more than 1 million citizens in both rural and urban territory. 

The largest city of the MEL conglomerate, Lille, boasts over 230,000 inhabitants and is often regarded as an important cultural capital for much of Northern France. An area that once faced economic upheaval, it is now a region of great cultural diversity, and there is a palpable entrepreneurial vibe inspired by a plethora of start-ups, local businesses and large university campuses. Designated as the European Capital of Culture in 2004, it is a territory with a strong identity, urban and rural, where the natural environment coexists alongside a rich design scene.

With a promise to engage designers, citizens, entrepreneurs, researchers and artists close to home and from around the globe, Lille Metropole demonstrated throughout their bid how the World Design Capital designation would be leveraged to develop the world’s greatest collaborative design agency – deploying a collaborative design approach that would speak to the region’s entire population. Central to this mission was the POCs (proof of concept) programme, which included some 600 projects experimenting with the idea of designing together, and highlighting that the design process is just as important as the final result.


"Lille Metropole’s strategic location in the heart of Europe will allow the entire region to benefit from the human-centred design projects to build more sustainable cities and communities" - WDO President Luisa Bocchietto

Selection Committee

The 2020 Selection Committee was comprised of Stephanie Allard, Associate Vice-President, Sales & Convention Services, Tourisme Montréal; Emilio Cabrero, Co-founder, C Cúbica Arquitectos and Design Week Mexico; Zach Caceres, Executive Director, Startup Cities Institute; Mugendi K. M’Rithaa, 2013-2015 WDO President-Elect, Professor at Cape Peninsula University of Technology; and Andrew Tuck, Founding Editor, Monocle.

Announcement and Celebration

During the 30th General Assembly in Torino (Italy), Lille Metropole was announced as World Design Capital 2020. WDO President, Mugendi K. M’Rithaa, congratulated the Lille delegation made up by Damien Castelain, Lille Metropole’s President, Frederique Seels, Vice-President of Lille Metropole, Caroline Naphegyi, Director for Lille Design, Martine Aubry, Mayor of Lille.

5 things you didn’t know about Lille Metropole

One of Lille’s ambition for WDC 2020 was for the entire region to become a living laboratory for the design of public services.

Lille Metropole consists of over 90 municipalities

35% of the population are under 25 years old and with over 110 000 students, Lille Metropole is considered France’s youngest metropolis

Lille Metropole is home to 85 private sector laboratories specializing in industrial research

Lille Metropole is home to over 600 companies specialized in design