San Diego, Tijuana named 'World Design Capital' in 2024
Speaker 1: (00:00)
The world design organization announced yesterday, it's selected San Diego and Tijuana for the title of world design capital. In 2024, the organization said it chose the two cities for their commitment to human centered design and their legacy of cross border collaboration. So what does it mean to be a world design capital? Joining me with more is Michelle Morris co-founder and president of the design forward Alliance, which spearheaded the region's bid. Michelle. Welcome.
Speaker 2: (00:27)
Thank you so much, Andrew. It's wonderful to be here and it's a great day for the San Diego Tijuana region.
Speaker 1: (00:32)
People might assume that being a world design capital has to do with how our region looks visually, but that's not really the whole story. So how would you describe what it means to be a world design capital? You know, it's
Speaker 2: (00:45)
Question because design, you know, something that we encounter everywhere all the time, uh, and products and buildings and websites, et cetera, experiences. So what we like to, we collect to talk about it as it is the pretty and the gritty. Um, it's, it's everything that you can see and things that you want to, uh, to enjoy, uh, the physical products and, you know, we have an amazing, amazing creative community and design community here in San Diego to wanna, uh, but it also is taking some of the tools and techniques and leveraging those practitioners to not just help with solving the problems, but delving deep into what are some of the ways that we can transform our region with the wicked problems that the world currently faces things like homelessness, climate action, cross border, uh, immigration, uh, food insecurity, just social justice and equity. So, uh, it, it really is a whole spectrum. And, uh, there's a lot of untapped potential here in our region.
Speaker 1: (01:47)
The idea to pursue this designation first came about several years ago, but it wasn't until the pandemic that your organization decided to apply for this designation. What about the pandemic drove that idea forward? Well, you know,
Speaker 2: (02:01)
Right now the entire world is thinking rethinking pretty much every facet of life, whether it be because of that pandemic, um, or things that emerged through, uh, through the course of the last 18 plus months. And so there's no better time for design and for designers, uh, then when you have a complex problem or when you have a, you know, a canvas, uh, that, that has a lot of questions and you need to get deep community voices, which is one of the reasons, for example, we partnered with the Burnham center for community advancement in order to really it's really make design. And this platform, the world design capital, um, meaningful, uh, it's important that we, that we go really deep into what it means to be our region and then how we can then move forward with the design lens, um, but into, into the future. Um, and that's also why, for example, we've partnered with the design lab at UC San Diego, which is really the driver behind the design forward movement and co-founder of the design forward Alliance. It's having capacity to really research and look into problems in a different way, bringing together different stakeholders, um, so that, uh, we can move forward. And what better time than, uh, when the world has, is in an unprecedented unchartered territory,
Speaker 1: (03:19)
The other finalist for this designation was Moscow. What do you think gave San Diego and Tijuana the edge in this competition? Well,
Speaker 2: (03:27)
You know, Moscow is a force. Yeah. They have such a strong legacy and tradition of design and lots of in lots of categories like architecture and industrial design, and they have a really robust design community. Now, I think it was a few things that, uh, allowed us to, to, to be crowned the world design capital 20, 24, uh, one being our binational, uh, narrative. It it's unique. Uh, in fact, the world design organization said, we weren't sure if that was just something that you said in your written bid or if it was real, but when they came for the site visit, um, you know, the, the interconnectedness of, uh, of our region is, is palpable and very authentic. I think it was, uh, this, this partnership between the design Ford Alliance, the UC San Diego design lab and the Burnham center and the two cities, and then lots of other, I mean, innumerable organizations throughout that really gave texture to our bid, uh, well beyond just showcasing, um, you know, design and focusing on the ceremonial part. And I think also that just the transformative piece that we talked about using design as a practice, because we have a flourishing design community here, but also really looking to it for business value and economic development for environmental development and social development.
Speaker 1: (04:50)
So on that note, what are the material benefits of being named the world design capital? Well, I mean,
Speaker 2: (04:56)
We actually get put on the map in a different way. I think that will draw a lot of people to not only focus on our region, but then also to, uh, to come here. And then I would say finally, I think one, one real benefit is that we'll be able to convene these global and diverse stakeholders because it's not just any one, uh, any one entity or even a binational bid. Uh, that's going to be able to address the problems that our globe faces and our region faces right now.
Speaker 1: (05:25)
This designation starts in 2024. What kind of events will be happening in the region that year to mark this designation? So Andrew,
Speaker 2: (05:33)
I'm going to correct you there. It doesn't start in 2024. Our designation starts in 2024, but the work, the actual transformative work is it starts in a cup in a week, if not now, but before the event side of this, um, there will be a seven signature events that are part of every world design capital, and they range from a signing ceremony to a convocation ceremony. There will be a policy conference, um, uh, network cities meeting, which brings together the cohort of other world design capitals, and also street festivals and celebrations of design in the region. So it's going to be a very packed year on top of all of the amazing initiatives that already exist here, that we will be showcasing during that year.
Speaker 1: (06:15)
The first time that this designation has been awarded to two cities in two countries, why is that significant and how do you think San Diego and Tijuana will be sharing the attention? You know, I think it's
Speaker 2: (06:28)
Okay because I think it really makes a statement about how, how cities and how regions need to move forward in the 21st century. Um, but I also think that it's significant because it tells a different narrative about what design can mean and what, what, you know, what a world design capital could mean. You know, San Diego is not San Diego without Tijuana and Tijuana is not to wanna without San Diego in many ways. So while we have lots of, of differences to celebrate, there's, there's a synergy and a symbiosis that exists. And so I think that it's significant because like many things that we do in this region, we're, we're changing the game. We're, we're asking, we're pushing paradigms, uh, differently. And I think that's, that's really important. And, and part of why we won the bid,
Speaker 1: (07:11)
I've been speaking with Michelle Morris, president of the San Diego based design forward Alliance. Michelle, thank you so much. Thank you
Speaker 2: (07:19)
San Diego and Tijuana will be sharing the designation of "World Design Capital" in 2024, the organization that awards the title announced Tuesday.
The World Design Organization picked the San Diego-Tijuana region for its "commitment to human-centered design and legacy of cross-border collaboration to transform the region’s natural and built environments," it said in a press release.
It's the first time the biennial designation has gone to two cities in two countries.
The region's application was spearheaded by the San Diego-based nonprofit Design Forward Alliance. The group's co-founder and president, Michèle Morris, joined KPBS Midday Edition to talk about what the designation means for the region.
Morris said once the designation begins in 2024, both cities will be hosting multiple events to highlight the region's approach to design.
"There will be a policy conference, a network cities meeting, which brings together the cohort of other world design capitals, and also street festivals and celebrations of design in the region," Morris said. "It's going to be a very packed year, on top of all the amazing initiatives that already exist here that we will be showcasing during that year."