Is there a future for Montreal's title UNESCO City of Design?

During the 19th conference URBA 2015 at UQAM on Monday 19th of February 2007 I attended a conference entitled "Montreal, UNESCO City of Design: A dream or a reality for the future?". Marie-Josee Lacroix, head of designmontreal, was giving a speech at this conference. Designmontreal is an institution established by the city of Montreal, which has an important role in the promotion and development of the project "Montreal - UNESCO City of Design".

The speech was divided into three parts: The definition of UNESCO City of Design, why Montreal has received this nomination in May 2006, and the future impact of Montreal in its role as a UNESCO City of Design.

While the first part was dealing with the UNESCO guidelines of how a City of Design is defined, the second part revealed more detailed information about Montreal's design activities: I. e. 66 % of all quebequois designers live in the area of Montreal. Another interesting fact is that Montreal is the 6th biggest centre of Design in Nord America. Lacroix described the public and private sector involved in design related activities. She mentioned the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Uqam Centre of Design as important cultural institutions, but also private design and architecture companies.

She also screened the application video and mentioned Montreal's candidature file to become a UNESCO City of Design. It has been executed by Montreal's political leaders, designmontreal, and independent entities as i. e. an architect. The graphic design part was executed by orangetango.

In the third part of the speech Lacroix explained that in the future Montreal has to maintain its role of UNESCO City of Design by diffusing design on a national and international level. Important is collaboration in the city itself as well as with other cities. This year i. e. a workshop is going to be organized which aims to reconstruct the area around "Place d'armes". This local project will be executed on an international level as individuals from all three UNESCO Cities of Design including Berlin and Buenos Aires will participate. On the 5th of May 2007 designmontreal will organize an event with the purpose to open the doors of designers, architects and other design related professionals to the public. An other design project is going to be executed by sydlee collective, which plans the creation of 10 posters to sensitize people to the meaning "Montreal - UNECO City of Design". The project will have an international level and posters will be exchanged between Berlin, Buenos Aires and Montreal.

After the speech a discussion was opened and the public, that was composed of people from different fields of design, invited for participation. Design related questions were raised, suggestions made. One point of critic was i. e. related to the fact that Montreal's press hardly mentions design related topics and therefore Montreal's title of UNESCO City of Design is almost unknown by the public.

Brigitte Schuster
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