Cape Town’s bid story

The City of Cape Town's successful bid for World Design Capital 2014 was coordinated by the Cape Town Partnership, in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders and supporters.

The City of Cape Town's successful bid to be World Design Capital 2014

Cape Town was designated World Design Capital for 2014 at the International Design Alliance (IDA) Congress in Taipei, ahead of fellow shortlisted cities, Dublin and Bilbao.

What is World Design Capital?

The World Design Capital title is awarded bi-annually by the International Council for Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID) to give global prominence to cities that use design for their social, economic and cultural development. Founded in 1957 and active in 50 countries, ICSID has awarded the World Design Capital designation three times – to Torino, Italy (2008); Seoul, South Korea (2010) and Helsinki, Finland (2012).

The World Design Capital title is awarded in advance, allowing winning cities sufficient time to plan, develop and promote a year-long programme of World Design Capital-themed events for their designated year.

Cape Town was designated World Design Capital for 2014 in October 2011.

Who is coordinating Cape Town’s World Design Capital 2014 programme?

The City of Cape Town is in the process of setting up the necessary structures and positions to ensure the year-long World Design Capital 2014 programme lives up to our bid promise. Already, a vital network of partners from local and provincial government, the creative industries, academia and the media, as well as local design leaders and citizens from all walks of life, have pledged their support.

Why did Cape Town bid for World Design Capital 2014?

Cape Town’s World Design Capital 2014 bid concept “Live Design. Transform Life” focused strongly on socially responsive design. Our bid recognised and mobilised Cape Town’s considerable design resources towards addressing the legacies of our city’s apartheid past. It is aimed specifically at dealing with the vast imbalances that exist in our society and was organised into three broad themes: rebuild Cape Town through community cohesion; reconnect Cape Town through infrastructural enhancement; and reposition Cape Town for the knowledge economy.

The global landscape has changed irrevocably in recent years. Devastating economic and natural disasters have had a sobering effect on all aspects of life, including design. There is a growing need for practical design thinking, participatory methods and people-centred solutions to real problems. In this context, Cape Town has much to inspire the world. Ours was – and is – a proudly African bid, with the ultimate goal of achieving a sustainable, inclusive and more liveable African city, rooted in the strengths of our people and communities – to “Live Design. Transform Life.”

Cape Town’s design legacy

The year 2014 represents a significant milestone for Cape Town and South Africa, marking 20 years since we embraced freedom in 1994. For this reason, 2014 will be a momentous year, as we take stock of the challenges and gains of our transformation, and celebrate the achievements of the past two decades, both as a city and as a country.

Since the advent of democracy in 1994, Cape Town has undergone a process of reconstructing and reconnecting a city that had been physically, socially, economically, culturally and emotionally divided for many decades. As part of this city-led process of reunification and transformation, a large number of public and private programmes and projects have, since 1994, been geared towards delivering the type of innovative thinking, entrepreneurial spirit and successful implementation that will ultimately transcend boundaries to reconnect Cape Town in structure and spirit, for the benefit of all citizens.

In 2010, we proved that we as a city (and a country) are able to compete on a world stage, hosting one of the most successful World Cups in recent years and the first on African soil. The World Cup has provided Cape Town with the backbone of significant infrastructural enhancements and a renewed sense of civic pride. Our aim was to build on this legacy through our World Design Capital 2014 bid, to celebrate our successes and showcase them on a world stage.

Cape Town's design vision

Cape Town will use the World Design Capital 2014 opportunity to transform our city into one of the most inclusive, sustainable, liveable and productive on the African continent.

By harnessing the problem-solving powers of design and designers, and the creativity and resourcefulness of communities across our city, we will find innovative solutions to our most pressing on-the-ground challenges.

We will identify, nurture and promote projects that offer tangible evidence of how design can improve lives, bridge historic divides, reconnect our city in structure and in spirit, rebuild social and economic inclusion, and reposition Cape Town for a truly sustainable future within our uniquely South African and African context.

Through World Design Capital 2014 we will strengthen partnerships throughout our city – between government, business, NGO’s, academia, designers and communities.

Working together, we will ensure that design is understood as a key driver of sustainable social and economic development; that design is embedded in city development processes; that design skills and excellence are developed in Cape Town, South Africa and the continent; and that citizens are empowered to embrace design as a tool for transformation.

As the first developing nation city to be awarded World Design Capital 2014, we will use the designation as a catalyst for collaboration, knowledge sharing and networking across the African continent, and with other developing nation cities.

Our World Design Capital 2014 events will be leveraged to celebrate and showcase the tangible successes and transformative vision that earned Cape Town the designation, and to share our challenges and lessons more widely.

Globally, Cape Town will gain a reputation as a leading producer of creative design solutions to the complex challenges of our time – an African city of design-led innovation and inspiration.

Cape Town’s World Design Capital 2014 countdown

Cape Town’s 465-page World Design Capital 2014 bid book was officially handed over to City of Cape Town Executive Mayor, Alderman Dan Plato, on 30 March 2011, a day before the formal ICSID submission deadline of 31 March 2011.

In July 2011, three shortlisted cities for the World Design Capital 2014 title were announced, followed by an ICSID site visit to each of these cities in July 2011 and the announcement of the winning city in October 2011.

Keep up to date with the next phase, as we gear up towards 2014, by joining our Facebook fan page and following us on Twitter (@CapeTown2014).