It was announced earlier this morning, at the World Design Alliance Congress in Tapei, that Cape Town has won the bid for the title of 4th World Design Capital 2014.  Our congratulations go to the Cape Town Partnership, compilers of the 465-page Bid Book, who are in Taipei as part of a nine-person delegation representing the city.  The year-long accolade, the first for an African city, will see Cape Town hosting a series of design-related events in 2014, and should attract new visitors to Cape Town.

Accepting the honour on behalf of Cape Town, Mayor Patricia de Lille said that a city must be designed for and with its communities.    She pointed out that the year of World Design Capital 2014 co-incides with the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s democracy and freedom for all.  She also said that tourism was bound to benefit, as this had been the experience for other Design Capitals in the past.  The City of Cape Town spokesperson Pierre Cronje said on Kfm that it was a ‘wonderful inspirational award for the city of Cape Town’.

Writing in the Cape Argus yesterday, Cape Town Partnership MD Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana said that making Finalist stage of the Bid, with Dublin and Bilbao, had already changed Cape Town. She writes that in compiling the Bid Book, she and her team had seen Cape Town ‘as a human system’. In compiling the design wealth of the city, she is confident that the private and public sectors will invest in design ‘as a tool to create the liveable Cape Town we strive for.‘  The Cape Town Partnership strives for every one of its citizens to have a house by 2030, and that economic opportunities are created for all its residents.  Economically, the new Cape Economic Development Partnership, convened by Cape Town Partnership CEO Andrew Boraine, is a ‘design project’ in itself, its goal being to maximise economic growth in the city, which will benefit employment.  She calls for the city’s design portfolio and innovation to be exported into Africa, alongside our wines and fruit.  She called for the creation of a ‘knowledge economy’ in the Cape.  She said that winning the Bid would not be ‘a pat on the back for producing aesthetically pleasing objects or monuments to design. Instead, it recognises and rewards the employment of design as a tool for change’.  She added that design must be used to uplift our society, improve the lives of the locals, and efficiently ‘deliver taps and toilets to societies’, to aid transformation.  Winning the Bid will create focus and set deadlines, she writes.  The Partnership hopes to grow Cape Town ‘into one of integration’, given its past as a ‘city of segregation’.  We have been critical of the premise of the Bid that design caused segregation in Cape Town, and that design must turn this around by creating integration.

Cape Town has more than 800 creative industries, it is estimated, and the Cape Town Partnership calls for an inventory of design industries of three years ago to be repeated.

Six design events will be implemented within one month in 2014, as part of the World Design Capital 2014 requirement.  The World Design Capital is awarded every two years.  The World Design Capital last year was South Korea, and the World Design Capital 2012 is Helsinki.  All three cities agreed, prior to the announcement of the winning city, to collaborate.  See the video which was presented for Cape Town as part of its bid.  The City will pay €160 000 to the International Council for Societies of Industrial Design, for the licencing fee to hold the title, says the City’s media release just received.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @WhaleCottage