Montreal (Canada), 20 June 2023 – World Design Organization (WDO)® is pleased to announce that two successful bids have been shortlisted in their pursuit to become the next World Design Capital® (WDC) in 2026. A bid from the region of Frankfurt RheinMain (Germany) and a bid from Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) will move on to the next round of evaluation.

“One of the most important legacies of the World Design Capital programme has been the way in which diverse cities have demonstrated how design can engage in, respond to and improve the world around us.” stated WDO President David Kusuma. “The shortlist for this tenth cycle of WDC is no exception, with two compelling bids that each present their own unique narrative around how design can shape our future for the better.”

Frankfurt RheinMain bid, Design for Democracy. Atmospheres for a better life, was put forth by Design FRM gGmbH.

Under the theme of Design for Democracy. Atmospheres for a better life, the Frankfurt RheinMain bid, put forth by Design FRM gGmbH, positions design as a tool for collective good and an avenue through which citizens can more fully participate in the preservation of democratic systems and spaces. The bid builds on years of all-encompassing social transformation in the RheinMain area, which today comprises over 460 cities and towns. 

As the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh’s bid was developed by the Architecture and Design Commission and highlights the city’s flourishing design ecosystem, commitment to progress and capacity for change. Under the theme of Empowering Communities, the city’s vision for 2026 places their people and communities at the centre of their journey towards urban transformation through design.

Riyadh’s bid, Empowering Communities, was developed by the city's Architecture and Design Commission.

The shortlist was established by the WDC 2026 Selection Committee, composed of seven international experts in design, public policy, design anthropology and urban studies. Following this announcement, further exchanges with the design communities supporting each bid will be sought to enable the Committee to announce the final selection in September 2023.

For more information, please contact:

Eric Lauwers
WDO Programmes Manager 

About World Design Organization

World Design Organization (WDO)® is an international non-governmental organization and the international voice for industrial design. We advocate for Design for a Better World, promoting and sharing knowledge of industrial design-driven innovation that enhances the economic, social, cultural, and environmental quality of life. Today, WDO services over 185 member organizations, representing thousands of industrial designers around the world.


About World Design Capital

Designated every two years by the World Design Organization (WDO)® , World Design Capital® (WDC) recognizes cities for their effective use of design to drive economic, social, cultural, and environmental development. Through a year-long programme of events, the designated city showcases best practices in sustainable design-led urban policy and innovation that have reinvented their city and improved quality of life. Previous WDCs include Torino (Italy) in 2008, followed by Seoul (South Korea) in 2010, Helsinki (Finland) in 2012, Cape Town (South Africa) in 2014, Taipei (Taiwan, Chinese Taipei) in 2016, Mexico City (Mexico) in 2018, Lille Metropole (France) in 2020 and Valencia (Spain) in 2022. The cities San Diego (USA) and Tijuana (Mexico) will jointly hold the first binational designation in 2024.