World Design Capital



The Seoul Plaza near Seoul City Hall, Seoul (South Korea)

What is the WDC?

With more than half the world’s population now living in urban areas, cities are facing dramatic changes in how they adapt to their rising populations and effectively provide for the businesses that feed their economic growth. The future success of each city is therefore largely reliant on those who plan, design and manage the shared spaces and functions of their city.

Design has therefore become an increasingly fundamental tool in all levels of public and private development. For cities, design is at their very core and is utilised in business, with citizens, as well as in government to make cities more attractive, more liveable and more efficient.

The World Design Capital is a city promotion project that celebrates the merits of design. Held biennially, it seeks to highlight the accomplishments of cities that are truly leveraging design as a tool to improve the social, cultural and economic life of cities, throughout a yearlong programme of design-related events.

The WDC project seeks to maximise opportunities arising from multidisciplinary design collaboration. As such, the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (Icsid) leads the World Design Capital programme in a major step for the global design community. Through the WDC, Icsid aims to:

  • Recognise innovative cities for the use of design as an effective tool for social, cultural, environmental and economic development
  • Showcase a designated city and its achievements on the international forum
  • Promote global understanding of design as an economic development tool
  • Create an international network where cities and municipalities can learn and share innovative design programmes and strategies
  • Present international examples for enhancing economic growth, innovation, public safety, quality of life and social interactions
  • Promote outstanding education and research institutions in the field of design
  • Share municipal design-led project between developed countries and emerging economies.