The Montreal UNESCO City of Design initiative aims at creating opportunities for designers in Montreal so as to give vital and tangible expression to Montréal’s status as a UNESCO City of Design.
First launched throught an investment of $1.2 million over three years (2007-2011), the initiative aims to fund design and architecture competitions as well as promote made-in-Montréal design initiatives via various digital communication tools.
Since 1991, the Ville de Montréal has supported the promotion and development of unique initiatives (Commerce Design Montréal, Design Montréal Open House) that encourage designers to get involved in the city’s cultural and economic evolution.
In June 2006, Montréal was officially designated a UNESCO City of Design, joining the Creative Cities Network established by UNESCO in 2004.
In granting Montréal the title City of Design, UNESCO has acknowledged the city’s creative potential in the design disciplines, based on the strong concentration of talent here as well as the commitment and determination of the Ville de Montréal, other levels of government and civil society to build on those strengths for the purpose of enhancing Montrealers’ quality of life.
The UNESCO designation is neither a label nor a form of recognition. It is an invitation to develop Montréal around its creative forces in design.
Montréal UNESCO City of Design is thus a collective project that, to become a reality over time, demands that all stakeholders – elected officials, citizens, experts, entrepreneurs and designers – buy into it and make it their own.
In November 2007, the governments of Canada and Québec, the Ville de Montréal, and various cultural and business groups, all of them partners in the Montréal, Cultural Metropolis gathering in November 2007, responded to this UNESCO invitation by agreeing, as part of their 2007-2017 Action Plan, to promote excellence in design and architecture (Commitment 3.2) and to uphold Montréal as a UNESCO City of Design (Commitment 4.4).
Motivated by the implementation of these commitments, the Bureau du design of the Ville de Montréal and the UNESCO Chair in Landscape and Environmental Design at Université de Montréal, both promoters of Montréal’s candidacy as a UNESCO City of Design, launched a three-year project entitled Building Montreal UNESCO City of Design with the assistance of four major public partners: the Ministère des Affaires municipales, des Régions et de l’Occupation du territoire, the Ministère de la Culture, des Communications et de la Condition féminine, the Conférence régionale des Élus de Montréal and the Ville de Montréal.
In June 2009, a call went out to everyone to work together in implementing Montréal UNESCO City of Design.
Montréal thereby joins an international movement of cities and governments that are establishing initiatives to improve the quality of their living environment (CABE and Design Council, UK; Design Trust and Van Alen Institute, NY; City of Design, Saint-Étienne; Copenhagen, etc.).
In 2011, right on time for the designation’s fifth anniversary, the project’s identity evolved. With a history of strong accomplishments, all Montréalers were now invited to openly display their recognition of the role of design in Montréal’s development. Since we are already firmly engaged in creating the aforementioned future, Montréal, UNESCO City of Design is now being expressed in a simpler, bolder way.
The goal of the Montréal UNESCO City of Design initiative is to enhance the design quality of the objects, buildings and public spaces intended for Montrealers through better upstream integration of project designers in various disciplines.
At the heart of the project are:
- local and international networking of Montréal design though an interactive Web portal that is inclusive and upgradeable
- creation by means of design and architecture competitions in connection with projects of public scope that are in the planning phase
- dialogue between citizens, designers and elected officials through public forums and awareness-raising activities