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Lille Metropole, World Design Capital 2020

24 May 2019 | Front page, A region on the move

Discover how being awarded World Capital of Design will help Lille (Hauts-de-France) speed up its economic, ecological and social transformation.

design, economic development, attractiveness

Lille, France’s first World Design Capital

Lille was recently awarded "World Design Capital 2020," defeating Sydney, Australia and marking a big first for France. The World Design Organization, formerly known as the ICSID, awards this title every two years. Lille Metropole is the seventh city to be honored, following in the footsteps of Turin (Italy), Seoul (South Korea), Helsinki (Finland), Cape Town (South Africa), Taipei (Taiwan), and Mexico City (Mexico).

The World Design Organization, formerly known as the ICSID, awards this title every two years. Lille Metropole is the seventh city to be honored, following Turin (Italy), Seoul (South Korea), Helsinki (Finland), Cape Town (South Africa), Taipei (Taiwan), and Mexico City (Mexico).

Design: a driver for local development

With this victory, Lille Metropole, supported by the Hauts-de-France Region, is betting on a plan to transform the region through design. Its project is based on the ethic of integrated design found in local companies like Arc International, Decathlon and La Redoute, as well as the flourishing cultural scene that emerged from its year as European Capital of Culture in 2004. It also aims to move beyond design as a decorative art to showcase a new model for sustainable urban development that respects people and the environment and is a source of well-being thanks to design that creates new experiences, offers a competitive edge, and improves residents’ quality of life.

One of the cornerstones of the project is a call for experimentation open to everyone -- companies, start-ups, cities, citizens, artists, and researchers -- who are invited to appropriate and experiment with a design-centric approach to developing and producing their products, services, policies and projects. The year 2020 will offer an opportunity to showcase all their achievements and take stock of the added value of design-based methods.

Each proposed project, called a proof of concept, will be tested by resident and visitor volunteers before being analyzed and modelled, turning the whole city into a vast open-air laboratory.

With this project, the European Metropolis of Lille (MEL) is accelerating its the economic, ecological and social transformation. Its approach of creating innovative, future-oriented solutions that address its challenges will improve the region's quality of life, offerings and services.

According to Damien Castelain, President of the European Metropolis of Lille, "Design aims to provide more economical and more sustainable solutions to everyday problems both large and small, in order to improve quality of life. We believe that it will be the key to our metamorphosis.”

Design: contributing to change at the regional level

"Our city has transformed itself by making design a central part of its lifestyle of coexistence. In industry, architecture, and even urban renewal, we have always seen design as a vehicle for values, creativity and innovation," says Martine Aubry, Mayor of Lille and Vice-President of the European Metropolis of Lille.

The Hauts-de-France region has already proven its ability to change and restore local environments and use design to add value to major innovative projects. The proof comes in many forms, including the renovation of the old Roubaix swimming pool, which turned it into a museum, the creation of the EuraTechnologies Center for Excellence in an old spinning mill, and the inauguration of the European Center for Innovative Textiles (CETI) on the abandoned Terken brewery site in Tourcoing.


Increased appeal


The World Design Capital title offers Lille and the entire Hauts-de-France region vastly increased global visibility, giving the city a golden opportunity to highlight its many assets. Those assets include:

  • A dynamic and innovative economic ecosystem: Lille and, more generally the Hauts-de-France region, are home to many corporate headquarters, including those of international businesses like Décathlon, Auchan, and Bonduelles that were founded in the region.
  • A land of entrepreneurs: Hauts-de-France boasted France’s third-highest increase in new business openings in 2016.
  • A land of innovation and creativity: the region is home to numerous research centers and clusters of competitiveness or excellence in a wide range of fields (IAR, Matikem, I-trans, NSL and more).
  • Its geographical location in the heart of Northern Europe offers direct access to five capital cities.

To find out more about the project and the events and exhibitions planned for 2020, please visit the dedicated website.

Sources: Lille urban area, the World Design Capital, Le Monde, Métropole Européenne de Lille

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