Montréal, UNESCO City of Design: Concrete Benefits for the City

Montréal, May 15, 2012 – As Montréal prepares to host the Annual Meeting of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network on May 21 and 22, Mayor Gérald Tremblay and the city’s design community have positively assessed the benefits attributable to the June 2006 awarding of the designation “UNESCO City of Design” to Montréal.

“Our membership in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network has, among other things, rallied all decision-makers who care about the future of Montréal around the project to bring design into the fold so as to improve urban planning,” Mayor Tremblay says. “The entire design community can take pride in that achievement, because its members are the key to the emergence of an attractive and sustainable city. They are building and shaping Montréal’s territory and helping enhance quality of life for all its citizens.”

Creativity in design, an essential engine of Montréal’s vitality

The past few years have seen several million dollars invested in the holding of design and architecture competitions, the promotion of Montréal talent, and one exemplary project after another. Design is now an integral part of all municipal action plans and policies, and is part and parcel of the many projects that have brought renown to Québec’s largest city.

At the Rendez-vous Novembre 2007 – Montréal, Cultural Metropolis, the city and its partners in the business and cultural communities made a firm commitment to promoting excellence in design and architecture by broadening the use of competitions and asserting Montréal’s status as a UNESCO City of Design.

Multiple calls to creative action ensued: 20 project competitions (in architecture and urban design), five urban design workshops and five ideas competitions were organized. The resulting projects include new libraries, bus shelters, a sports complex and public spaces that, once completed, will further brighten Montrealers’ everyday lives.

The designation has also spurred development of the design industry, improving access to public commissions for designers from here and elsewhere, and has unquestionably helped enhance Montréal’s international reputation, notably by emphasizing the talent and drive of Montréal designers in all disciplines. 

Benefits of the designation for the design community 

“Montréal is a city of perpetual change, be it in its forms, its spaces or its creative effervescence,” says Jean Beaudoin, architect and winner of the 2011 edition of the competition Create Winter at the Quartier des spectacles, adding: “The UNESCO designation has helped the design community work in greater synergy, and has, by and large, helped boost the local and international reputations of Montréal creators.” 

For his part, Mario Mercier, Creative Director of agency orangetango, says: “Montréal is a creative city; everybody knows it. There’s no doubt that making it official with this designation has led to growing pride among design practitioners and opened the door to a collective will to constantly do better. We want to – and we must – be drivers of good design, and not follow the bandwagon of worldwide creative trends.”

Ying Gao, fashion designer and a past recipient of the Phyllis Lambert Design Montréal Grant, says Montréal’s designation as a City of Design and membership in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network directly influenced her reputation and developing career: “The grant allowed me to take a research trip to Japan and Germany, where I had some unforgettable meetings,” she explains. “After I returned, the Berlin-Nagoya project was born. It was shown at the Design Museum in Tel Aviv and the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, among other venues, and received a lot of international media coverage.” 

Anne Thomas, a designer selected following the call for proposals for the CODE SOUVENIR MONTRÉAL gift catalogue, pays tribute to the work done by the Montréal design community: “In the past five years, Montréal designers like TOMA Objets and the Ville de Montréal’s Bureau du design have worked so hard to ensure our talent and energy is recognized. That has helped a great many local creative talents break through on international markets.”

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Darren Becker

Office of the Mayor and the Executive Committee
514 872-6412

Françoise Lapointe

Media Relations
514 270-5800