Designer cityThe capital city of Korea has been appointed as the World Design Capital 2010 by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design.
Peter Zec, the president of the organization that represents 150,000 industrial designers from 15 countries, announced the decision at the group’s general assembly in San Francisco, California last Saturday.
The WDC project is to promote and encourage the use of design to advance the development of the world’s cities. It is a biennial competition and the title is conferred on cities that have shown exceptional progress using varied design tools. Seoul has become the first city to be selected after the pilot city of Torino, Italy in 2008.
The Seoul city government won the recognition for its efforts to establish a design department that will be led by a vice mayor, and for building a World Design Plaza to support designers and researchers in the field. The selection is welcome because it is a chance for Seoul to promote itself to the world in relation to design.
Developing a city through design, however, is not a simple project.
Focusing on design may lead to having less emphasis on the actual execution of change. It may give a perception that just changing the wrapping can improve everything.
To improve the design of a city does not mean just building a few structures and managing street and building signs. It requires guidelines that control the entire city and the administrative power and will to actually enforce and implement the guidelines.
A comprehensive approach, including financial support, is also needed.
The reason structures in Paris are praised is because the city has strict regulations on the use of color and form, along with support.
To have a bigger design industry, building a design cluster is not enough. Consideration must be given to how big the design industry is in the city, what laws are needed to nurture the industry and how the government and private sector can cooperate.
A master plan has to be established on how development downtown and in the outskirts can be coordinated.