Seoul (South Korea) – Under the auspice of the World Design Capital™ (WDC) Seoul 2010 programme of events, some 32 municipal leaders including mayors, policy makers and other leading officials from around the world, gathered in Seoul on 23-24 February 2010 to attend the WDC World Design Cities Summit. As numerous cities strive to strengthen their future competitiveness, the summit provided a platform for municipal leaders to demonstrate the impact of design on the competitiveness of cities in the 21st century. Presenters from selected cities shared case studies and successful design policies related to urban development, business and the quality of life, as well as discussed measures to develop and improve.

In a momentous undertaking, the participating cities joined Seoul and signed the “Seoul Design Declaration” on 24 February in support of the City of Seoul’s desire to recognise design as a core competency and an asset to the city, as well as to share the vision of improving the citizens’ happiness index and developing the city through design, together with global citizens. The declaration highlighted the following goals:

  • Cities will create designs for everyone
  • Cities will enrich the citizens’ lives through design
  • Cities will create sustainable designs

In addition, the City of Seoul announced its intention to subsequently organise a biennial summit in a manner to help cities achieve the objectives of the declaration.

“The ambition of the World Design Capital programme, has always been to create a platform to showcase cities that have capitalised on the merits of design to reinvent, invigorate and position themselves, or have expressed a commitment to revitalise the urban fabric of their city,” stated Dr. Mark Breitenberg, President of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) and Provost of the California College of the Arts during the opening of the summit. “True to this mandate, this inaugural WDC event in Seoul enables design-effective cities to share best practises and encourages other cities to do the same.”

The WDC programme, initiated by Icsid in 2003, is a biennial designation that can be conferred to any city that has cultivated a vision to utilise design to achieve tangible results in improving and developing the city’s economy and everyday culture. The City of Seoul is the second city to hold the WDC designation following the City of Turin who was appointed with the title in 2008. The City of Helsinki will assume the title in 2012.

The three WDC mayors shared a special position during the summit to impress upon an audience of peers, their impressions and experience with regards to the WDC initiative.

Above (L-R): Mr. Sergio Chiamparino (Mayor of Torino), Mr. Se-hoon Oh (Mayor of Seoul) and Mr. Jussi Pajunen (Mayor of Helsinki).

“The world is indeed in great turmoil and innovative ideas are desperately needed to solve acute problems. Design appears to be part of the answer for many of these open questions,” stated Mr. Jussi Pajunen, Mayor of the City of Helsinki. “Everything we do as cities is sponsored by the taxpayers. For that reason, we have a duty to consider what is in the interest of our citizens. Many of us are familiar with the term ROI (Return on Investment), I would like to introduce a new performance indicator ROD (Return on Design). If we do not carefully consider this aspect, design will continue to be viewed with some level of scepticism. The designation opens up remarkable opportunities for our city and we feel deeply honoured to join the distinguished group of World Design Capitals.”

During the WDC Torino 2008 year, over 340 initiatives and eight special projects were held in Torino including exhibitions, conferences, workshops, design activities, congresses and fairs. “There were no benchmarks from other cities, when Torino was designated as the first World Design Capital,” stated Chiamparino, Mayor of the City of Torino. “So we developed our own project by listening to the territory, which gave voice to a wide spectrum of local operations.”

The impact of the WDC project on Torino is apparent in the over 3250 articles printed about the various events. As explained by Chiamparino, “The WDC event reinforced the urban marketing plan that was started at the beginning of 2000, with the aim to attract new investments, qualified human capital and other international events to be held in our city after the Olympics.” For Torino, the legacy of the project lies is in the creation of a model of urban public/private networking that has affected public administration, companies, designers, opinion leaders, schools and citizens. Local companies benefited from the project visibility and promoted specific initiatives; new jobs and professional activities linked to design have stood up.

The WDC programme is more than just a yearlong programme of design-related events. It is an opportunity for the designated city to increase its visibility as a centre of creativity and innovation, strengthen economic development and attract design-minded individuals and experts from a diverse cross-section of industries. In addition, the WDC pro gramme seeks to change citizen’s perceptions and heighten their appreciation and understanding of design, to evoke a sense of citizen pride

Read full transcripts (opening remarks)


For more information, please contact:
Ms. Andrea Springer
Programme Director World Design Capital,
t: +1-514-448-4949 ext. 232

Ms. Dilki de Silva
Icsid Secretary General
t: +1-514-448-4949 ext. 227

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

The International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) is an international non-governmental organisation for professional industrial design. Founded in 1957, Icsid currently counts over 150 members in more than 50 countries, representing an estimated 150,000 designers worldwide. Icsid members are professional associations, promotional societies, educational institutions, government bodies, corporations and institutions — all of which contribute to the development of the profession of industrial design.

Icsid facilitates co-operation and interaction among these societies and supports a global network through which design institutions worldwide can collaborate. Through shared interests, experiences, and resources, Icsid provides an international platform for its members to be heard as a powerful voice.

Icsid also holds consultative status with UNESCO, UNIDO, ISO and WIPO to support and highlight design in international forums.

About the 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.