Designs on a world crown
Cape Town is gearing up to bid for the title of world design capital 2014, writes Anna-Marie Smith
CAPE TOWN’S reputation as a city of design, with an architectural heritage of world-class standards as well as other forms of art including fine art, performing arts, graphic and media art, as well as music and film, is paving the way to the city becoming the world design capital in 2014.
If successful, the city’s art industry, institutions, business and government departments should be able to gather long-term benefits, as such an award would boost its global status.
The annual award is bestowed by the International Council for Societies of Industrial Design to cities dedicated to using design for their social, economic and cultural development.
The designation of world design capital gives the winning city an international focus during a year-long programme of designled events.
Previous winners included Torino in Italy in 2008; Seoul in South Korea, currently holding the award; and Helsinki in Finland, which will become world design capital in 2012.
Other cities in the running for the 2014 title are Bilbao in Spain, Dublin in Ireland and a number of Chinese cities, but according to reports the council is searching for a city from a developing country.
Cape Town has selected the theme: Live design. Transform life, for its application, to be lodged early next year, and has mandated the Cape Town Partnership (CTP) to co-ordinate the city’s bid. There has been co-operative support between a network of partners, from local and provincial government, creative industry organisations and institutions, as well as the media and leaders in local design.
Lorelle Bell, CTP bid co-ordinator, says: “Cape Town may not have Bilbao’s design assets or Dublin’s locale, or for that matter China’s financial resources, but what we do have as a city is a strong story to tell 20 years after democracy of how design is being used to undo the city’s historical design aimed at dividing people.”
The theme of the bid will focus on the city’s use of design to reconnect people through projects such as the integrated rapid transport system, the public spaces programme, the dark-fibre network, research and design at educational institutions, and even how our calendar of major public events draws on the talents of designers, their networks and design programmes to incorporate as wide a citizen base as possible.
Bell says the bid will also look at how public architecture, art and memorialisation contributed to place-making. The bid allows the city, for example, to leverage the gains made during the 2010 Soccer World Cup, which demonstrated the positive impact of peoplecentred design.
Bell says that Cape Town has a thriving design community, from internationally awarded and recognised industrial designers to architects and SA’s own animation industry.
She says this is an ideal opportunity for all creative industries to showcase their talent to the world and achieve important recognition for design among the Cape’s communities in terms of educational transformation and development.
The first step in the bidding process is the preparation of a bid book to specific guidelines laid down by the council, to be submitted by the end of March.
Bell says: “We are therefore calling for all those involved in design, in whatever way, to look at submitting their projects and programmes for consideration for the bid book. We are also asking all those in the creative industries to lend support to the bid by displaying the world design capital 2014 logo on their property — from websites and blogs to promotional material.”
CTP’s Carola Koblitz says: “The partnership’s strength in meeting the World Cup mandate lay in its ability to be reactive, rather than proactive, and to plan solutions to problems quickly as and when they arose, from dealing with public fears to plugging the gaps in the City’s own planning.”
She says the city should handle the way forward in the same way it handled the World Cup — in bitesized chunks.
Koblitz reminded Capetonians of the five-point mandate on which the city had expected the Partnership to deliver for the World Cup and that has created a template for future events:
To enhance citizen and business participation;
To contribute to a unique Cape Town experience for visitors;
To contribute to a well-organised, safe and successful event;
To enhance business branding and marketing of the city; and
To leave a lasting economic, social and cultural legacy.