Initiated by the World Design Organization, a renewed vision of the 140-member International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, the title of World Design Capital (WDC) recognizes cities around the globe that cultivate development through effective sustainable design, propelling title cities to harness their potential even more meaningfully and ushering them toward even greater sociocultural acclaim globally. Basking in its 2018 reign, Mexico City — the first WDC within North America — is a diverse, creative, and prosperous city, whose people and leaders are enthused about the resurgence of the city as a hyperconnected 21st-century metropolis.
To date, five cities (designated biannually) have earned the sought-after title of WDC. From Torino to Seoul, to Helsinki, to Cape Town, to Taipei, the goal of the WDC has historically been to transform their respective cities. Mexico City has now joined the ranks of these global megacities, and this culturally effervescent city has adopted the mission of ‘socially responsible design’ approaches for its 2018 reign, promising to merge the old and the new of the city’s aesthetics.
Mexico City, the birthplace of Frida Kahlo and home of Diego Rivera, has a strong artistic and cultural influence, the status of which the WDC is invested in sustaining. Professor Mugendi M’Rithaa, President of the World Design Organization (which bears the rank of UN Consultative Status) and member of the WDC selection committee, has said that this new WDC “will serve as a model for other megacities around the world grappling with the challenges of urbanization and using design thinking to ensure a safe, more livable city”.
From the key values of this year’s program, the current WDC will engage in city-wide initiatives that are based on six themes: people, mobility, city identity, environment, public space, and creative economy. Related activities will include exhibitions from both public and private museums, conferences, panels, installations, and documentaries, all intended to stimulate thought and initiate conversations and interactions navigating the importance of design in everyday life and its fundamental role in society. Featuring campaigns focusing on innovative health, communications, and security to urban gardens, bike-sharing, and playgrounds, Mexico City’s transformative design project is committed to involving a generationally diverse range of citizens.
Mexico City’s social approach to the challenges of the first urban century will coordinate 13 renowned architects, designers, urban planners, writers, and artists who will analyze the challenges, policies, and opportunities facing urban cities today. The lecturers will present their vision, share their best practices, and contribute to the dialogue about new strategies of change that promote the wellbeing of cities and populations through design. An academic approach to the 2018 program will see an inter-university networking and collaboration platform between design and architecture universities, faculties, and educational institutions.
Home of the Aztec temples, Zócalo plaza, museums, and iconic buildings such as the nouveau Palacio de Bellas Artes and the Metropolitan Cathedral, Mexico City has always displayed a passion and enthusiasm for culturally rich and historically meaningful design, making its selection as WDC 2018 a natural progression. In a potentially shared future, the city will focus on the crucial role of design and architecture and what socially responsible design can mean to the life of a city, especially one with as much potential as Mexico City.