UNESCO City of Design Dundee joins V&A Dundee


2nd June 2021

The team responsible for the UK’s first and only UNESCO City of Design will be hosted at V&A Dundee in a new partnership.

Dundee’s UNESCO City of Design designation will now be hosted within Scotland’s design museum, further supporting the city’s aim to position and champion design as a catalyst for community, physical and economic transformation. The partnership will bring ambition and resources together to further develop Dundee’s design leadership and capacity in the city, across Scotland and internationally.

UNESCO City of Design Dundee and V&A Dundee will collaborate on a range of projects and partnerships in Dundee, working with and learning from communities. The partnership will seek to develop ways to support the city’s designers and Scotland’s design sector while championing design from Scotland internationally. The variety of projects that this collaboration will support includes the biennial Dundee Design Festival.

This year’s Dundee Design Festival will take place in late September. Dundee-based design studio Agency of None will produce the festival which this year will be located in venues across the city. These ‘design houses’ will be created in collaboration with local communities and organisations, including V&A Dundee, and will profile the value of design to our everyday lives.

Since the city became a UNESCO City of Design in December 2014 the delivery team have been hosted by Leisure & Culture Dundee. They have successfully delivered a variety of projects including three editions of the Dundee Design Festival; showcased Dundee designers internationally in exhibitions, conferences and festivals; co-designed the pedestrianisation of Union Street with local businesses in response to the COVID pandemic; launched CODE souvenir Dundee, a catalogue of locally designed gift items; and staged the Dundee Design Parade with hundreds of local young people celebrating Dundee’s place in the global network of UNESCO Creative Cities.

This announcement follows news that V&A Dundee will develop into Scotland’s centre for design over the next three years, which will include new partnerships that position design as one of Scotland’s greatest resources, connects communities, and empowers people.

Leonie Bell, Director of V&A Dundee, said: “Dundee is a design city, full of ideas, imagination and innovation, with many globally significant design achievements. Its south-facing riverside location with its creative and cultural spaces and communities, two leading universities and college, make Dundee a wonderful place to live and work.

“Design enriches all our lives, it is about harnessing ambition and creativity to imagine and to create positive change, and this is so important as we begin our recovery from the pandemic and ask ourselves what kind of future we want.

“We are delighted to welcome, on behalf of the partners, the UNESCO City of Design Dundee team to V&A Dundee, and look forward developing our ambitions, for design, for Dundee and for Scotland together.”

Annie Marrs, Lead Officer of UNESCO City of Design Dundee, said: “This new partnership cements Dundee’s commitment to design, and to using design as a tool to create change in our city. The programmes we run celebrate and demonstrate the impact of design, embrace co-design, promote talent, engage designers in decision-making and collaborate with other UNESCO Cities of Design.

“Over the last six years, the support of Leisure & Culture Dundee has enabled thousands of people to engage with design and experience design here in Dundee, as well as profile Dundee’s design talent on an international stage. They have encouraged, nurtured and supported the team and designation to flourish.

“We are excited to embark on this next stage of Dundee’s journey as a UNESCO City of Design, and to continue to uphold the values of UNESCO.”

Sinclair Aitken, Chair Leisure & Culture Dundee, said: “We are very proud to have been part of a team that secured for Dundee the UNESCO City of Design designation, and to have hosted to date the group of talented individuals responsible for the project.

“They have consistently delivered tangible benefits to the city and in passing the baton on to V&A Dundee trust and expect the successes of the past few years to continue. We are confident the new partnership will lead to greater opportunities and further developments.”

John Alexander, Dundee City Council leader, said: "UNESCO status has put Dundee on the international design map while also raising the local profile of the innovative work of our design community and the positive contribution it is making to our communities.

"This new partnership will build on our amazing achievements of the last few years and use design skills to assist in recovery, as the city and Scotland moves forward from the public health emergency."

Karen Merkel, UK National Commission for UNESCO, Non-Executive Director for Communication & Information, said: “The UK National Commission for UNESCO congratulates UNESCO City of Design Dundee on forging this unique new venture with the world-renowned V&A Dundee.

“The city of Dundee’s status as a UNESCO Creative City of Design brings with it the global recognition of the city’s rich heritage in design for over 100 years, and it now has working relationships with the worldwide network of 40 UNESCO Creative Cities of Design.

“The combined global reach of the UNESCO Creative Cities of Design network and V&A Dundee means that together they can attract and engage an even wider public directly in the whole field of design and give support to active participation in the creative industries.

“The worldwide recognition of UNESCO and the presence of V&A Dundee combined will draw significant attention to the city of Dundee and add lasting value to the cultural life of the city, as well as further engaging visitors and cementing Dundee's place as a leading player in design across the UK and beyond.”


V&A Dundee

V&A at Dundee will be an international centre of design for Scotland. It will celebrate Scotland's historic importance in design and host major exhibitions of outstanding design, helping people understand their own and others' cultural heritage.

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