About Design Montréal Open House

In June 2006, Montréal was named a UNESCO City of Design, and became part of the Creative Cities Network of the Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity, instituted by UNESCO in 2004. Today, both in terms of the city’s assets and its development potential in architecture and design, Montrealers are called upon to understand this designation awarded by UNESCO and make it their own.

Making the title Montréal, UNESCO City of Design vital and tangible to citizens means continuing the work of distribution, popularization and awareness-raising about design and architecture that the city administration has successfully undertaken since 1998 with the Commerce Design Montréal competition.

The concept of the Design Montréal Open House, as a very public, accessible event similar to the city’s museum days and culture days, or the Commerce Design Montréal tours, is to get Montrealers to [re]discover design and designers, and in so doing, make the UNESCO designation their own and take pride in it, while increasing their interest in the people whose designs shape their daily lives.

Between 2007 and 2013, the Design Montréal office of the Ville de Montréal has ensured that the Open House event, held the first weekend of May, included all design disciplines, with a particular emphasis on those that have a greater impact on Montrealers’ living environment (i.e., design of the city).

The event’s originality stems from the fact that it is based on an existing pool of Montréal projects and professionals that are acknowledged each year by credible architecture and design awards and competitions, both nationally and internationally. These prize-winners are often little known to the public, since promotion of these competitions is usually limited to an inner circle of “in-the-know” professionals. The idea behind the Design Montréal Open House is to provide a high-visibility showcase for all of these Montréal winners (both designers and projects) that justify and nurture Montréal’s status as a UNESCO City of Design and are its finest ambassadors.

The specific goals of the event are as follows:

• Develop a culture of quality in architecture and design, raising Montrealers’ awareness, educating them and encouraging them to be more exacting, so as to generate stronger demand for innovative, quality projects;
• Democratize access to architecture and design by reaffirming the importance of these professions and their output to Montrealers’ daily lives;
• Lead the public to discover the design and architecture professions, demystify preconceived notions about them, and showcase the richness, diversity and talent Montréal has to offer;
• Publicize Montréal’s recent designation as a UNESCO City of Design, explain its basis, and nurture public pride; and
• Position the actions of Design Montréal as an added value for industry organizations that will enhance the reach and influence of their competitions and the reputations of prize-winners.

Since the first Open House, close to 150 firms, projects and design venues have opened their doors and received more than 76, 700 visits.

A few testimonials from participants

Katrin Leblond, fashion designer
“The visitors had all kinds of comments and encouragement for me. The visibility provided was very good for business. I have the impression of being an integral part of the design community.”

Thien Ta Trung, Owner, Domison
“Our participation in the Open House day was a huge success. More than 500 design enthusiasts came to visit and discover our new boutique! The event helped us reach a large client group that is already receptive to design.”

Michel Dufresne, urban planner and Partner, Groupe Cardinal Hardy
“Our participation allowed us to canvass our clients, local organizations, the borough technical department and the general public in a more personalized manner, through the local newspaper and an invitation card sent out by e mail.”

Natalie Dionne, architect
“I really enjoyed the chance to share our know-how, demystify the profession of architect, become better known to the public—and, against all expectations, greet 523 people!”