UNESCO, Montréal

We all cherish Montréal’s distinct joie de vivre and on May 12 2006 it was formally acknowledged when Montréal was designated a UNESCO city of Design.

UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is an agency of the United Nations. The UN’s agenda is to maintain peace, to achieve international cooperation and obtain respect for justice, freedom and human rights.[1] UNESCO contributes to these goals by promoting education, natural sciences, social sciences, culture, and communication on an international level. The agency believes creative industries open development opportunities and strengthen local markets while providing better access to international markets.[2] Cultural diversity and international networking are of paramount importance as UNESCO aims to foster sustainable development[3] and bridge the gap between North and South.[4]

As Dinu Bumbaru, head of Heritage Montréal, puts it: “being a City of Design is not a cherry on top”.[5] This is a great responsibility and one that Montréal must fulfill on the world stage. Upholding the commitment to UNESCO required Montréal examine and reinforce its cultural infrastructure.

Quickly they identified the importance of public dialogue between all stakeholders – elected officials, citizens, experts, entrepreneurs and designers need to work together and engage. Montréal added 5 educated design commissioners to its municipal administration, and quickly standardized the practice of competitions, workshops and expert panels. What this infrastructure supports is a beautiful concept: democratization of design.[6]

The transparency that surrounds this process of democratizing design ensures everyone an opportunity to learn, contribute and celebrate the influence of design. It encourages the young generation of independent designers to participate in freedom of expression alongside seasoned design firms. This level of engagement has shaped the way Montréal sees design. Marie-Josée Lacroix, one of the cities design commissioners, reflects on the growth of public education “the question of how to design our lives is starting to make sense”. [7] Today on the streets of Montréal there is a keen understanding for the importance of design and a fierce interest in fostering design excellence. Collectively Montréal will enhance the quality of design and moreover quality life. [8]

Montréal, UNESCO City of Design has established a solid foundation to support divers and sustainable design. The 5 year celebrations provide an opportunity to reinforce the importance of design in all areas of lifestyle sustainability and development. The celebrations extend from May 2011- May 2012 with exhibitions, symposiums and public forums.

For information on how to become a UNESCO City of Design visit the following link:


[1] (Charter of United Nations, Chapter 1 article 1:  http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/chapter1.shtml)

[2] (http://www.unesco.org/new/en/culture/themes/creativity/)

[3] (http://www.unesco.org/new/en/culture/themes/cultural-diversity/)

[4] (http://www.unesco.org/new/en/culture/themes/creativity/creative-industries/)

[5] Montreal a city of design BY THE GAZETTE (MONTREAL) MAY 5, 2007

[7] http://www.torinoworlddesigncapital.it/portale/en/content_1.php?ID=81&sezioneID=10