Early in the morning of the 26th of October 2011 (Wednesday) an announcement was made in Tapei that Cape Town had been awarded the crown of World Design Capital 2014. Since this announcement, it seems that half the people on the SA social media circuit are oozing with excitement and the other half are scratching their heads asking themselves “What does this mean?”what this means.
Basically (for those who don’t know) the World Design Capital is an award that was created +/- 8 years ago by a prominent international design forum (the ICSID or International Council of Societies of Industrial Design). Previous winners of this award include Torino (Italy), Seoul (South Korea) and Helsinki (Finland).
Cape Town Executive Mayor Patricia de Lille accepted the award on behalf of Cape Town, South Africa and the African continent on Wednesday She said 2014 will be the celebration of 20 years of democracy in the country. “2014, then, is the moment when the past and the future will come together for Cape Town, in contemplation and in action”.
Getting named as a World Design Capital is a big deal. Cape Town faced some stiff competition (having been shortlisted against Bilbao in Spain and Dublin in Ireland).
Here are 5 major outcomes that Cape Town can expect from receiving this honor:
- Boost to the Mother City’s economy: This comes in 2 forms: From the commitment by local government to invest in better architecture, smarter infrastructure and contemporary solutions such as green areas in the city bowl, cycle tracks, walking paths, safe areas and culture hubs. And from the expected increase in tourism, despite the global downturn. According to the IDSID, Torino (Italy) reported higher visitor numbers in its title year.
- Attention from the global creative community on Cape Town: Before you roll your eyes at this, think movies, music, advertising and conferences. When considering where to host anything, the badge next to Cape Town’s name is going to play a big part in swaying big decisions.
- Free marketing of Cape Town: Expect to see the mother city appearing with increasing frequency in the global media. Magazines such as Time, Newsweek and The Economist, newspapers on all continents and especially in travel publications such as Conde Naste and online tourism forums and travel blogs. The award gives the media something other than wine, weather and Table Mountain to write about.
- Increased focus on creative solutions: In South Africa’s past, design was used to keep us apart. We were divided into allocated areas, suburbs and parks. Our cities were designed to divide us. Now, design will be proactively used to bring South Africans together. The award also brings an increased awareness of the power of creativity to solve problems (anything from traffic, to overcrowded townships, to informal trading areas, to the environment, etc). Thinking creatively brings about positive change, and ultimately profit to society and to business.
- Capetonians will become even more irritating: Yes! Capetonians are now officially cooler than anyone else in the country. And they have a big yellow badge to prove it!
The ICSID president and member of the selection committee Dr Mark Breitenberg said: “It is encouraging to see how Cape Town plans to use design as a tool to solve urban challenges. I am confident that this new member of the WDC family will demonstrate to the world how design is expanding in application and influence.”
So, if you are living in Cape Town, give yourself a pat on the back. You live in one of the coolest cities in the world.
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