Cape Town shortlisted as one of final three for World Design Capital 2014

We just received the fantastic news that Cape Town has been shortlisted for the World Design Capital 2014. From a team of 56 hopefuls, Cape Town now stands alongside just two other world cities – Dublin, Ireland and Bilbao, Spain – in the race to earn the World Design Capital title.

This is a significant moment for Cape Town. Being on the shortlist is an acknowledgement that design is an asset and a massive catalyst to align different sectors across the city with the ultimate goal of making Cape Town a more liveable city.

Many people associate Cape Town with our beautiful natural surrounds, but design and innovation is leading the way for us to become a city that people are increasingly choosing to explore and discover from an urban context.

More than half the world’s population lives in cities and urban tourism dominates the international tourism landscape – over 70% of international tourism spend occurs in urban areas. Cities are incubators of innovation and ideas, epicentres of modern, living culture. Design is increasingly becoming a fundamental tool to ensure that Cape Town is more competitive, liveable and efficient. Cape Town’s position as an innovation hub sets us apart from any other South African and African city. As the city moves into the future, we are convinced that it will become an ever more exciting place to live in, work in and visit.

Being named World Design Capital is prestigious. The title is bestowed biennially by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design to cities that are dedicated to using design for social, cultural and economic development. The story at the heart of Cape Town’s bid theme is about the city’s use of design to overturn the negative legacy of its colonial and apartheid past, which saw design dividing people, disconnecting the city, and relegating people of colour and the urban poor to its fringes. These people were denied both equitable access to resources and opportunities, and making their own contributions to a better city. The country was a pariah in the eyes of the world and was excluded from many opportunities to engage in the globalising economy.

With predecessors such as Seoul, Korea (2010) and Helsinki, Finland (2012), proving that living design can, in fact, transform lives, Cape Town’s status as a top three contender shifts the city onto a new world platform and into a new era.

The Cape Town Partnership, which has been mandated to manage the bid, the City of Cape Town and Cape Town Tourism will now host a delegation of World Design Capital 2014 judges in the city from July 10 - 24, 2011. An important stage in the process, this is when the content of the Bid Book and the city’s priorities, in terms of design as a tool for social transformation, will tread its proving ground. The World Design Capital 2014 winner will be announced on October 26, 2011.

Design is one of the fundamental pillars of the positioning of Cape Town as a place of inspiration. As with the World Cup, the bid process has given us a common platform to elevate Cape Town’s place on the world’s stage. We urge all Capetonians to get behind the bid. Citizen support and ownership will be key to the success of our bid.

Extracts from the Cape Town World Design Capital 2014 Bid Book are available on and case studies for design in Cape Town can be viewed at

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