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UNESCO City of Design Dundee launched by Cabinet Secretary

30 January 2015

Dundee’s title as the UK’s first UNESCO City of Design was launched today (Friday 30 January) by the Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs.

Fiona Hyslop met designers including architect Kirsty Maguire, fashion designer Hayley Scanlan, game designers Guerilla Tea and jeweller Jane Gowans as part of a three-day celebration of the city’s design strengths.

The launch involves showcasing Dundee’s designers to the public and asking everyone in Dundee what the UNESCO City of Design status should mean to them – and how design can be used to improve their lives.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, said: “Today is the opening line of a new chapter in Dundee’s story. Dundee’s status as the UK and Scotland’s first UNESCO City of Design carries with it the city’s great history as well as its bold ambitions as a centre of creativity for the future.

“This award is down to the people of Dundee who have embraced the city’s design-led vision to change their communities, change their lives and regenerate the city. They join a network of other great UNESCO design cities alongside the likes of Berlin, Montréal and Shanghai using the power of design to promote cultural and creative talent and showcase our inspiring building design and places to the world.

“Dundee has a reputation as a hub of imagination and innovation that will continue to build as ambitious projects for the city come to fruition, not least the spectacular V&A and Waterfront redevelopment. I look forward to watching Dundee continue to go from strength to strength under the banner of a UNESCO City of Design.”

Tim Williams, Chair of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, said: "We warmly welcome Dundee to the UK's UNESCO Network as the first UK Creative City of Design. We look forward to working with the Dundee partnership within both the UK's vibrant Creative Cities Network and the wider UNESCO family in the UK."

Councillor Ken Guild, chair of the Dundee Partnership and Leader of the administration, Dundee City Council, said: "This is truly international recognition for Dundee's innovative design sector.

"The city's profile will receive a huge boost and I am certain it will lead to many opportunities for Dundee. I look forward to seeing how we use this status to help take the city forward for the future."

Stewart Murdoch, UNESCO bid leader and Dundee's‎ Director of Leisure and Communities, said: “The focus for our first year as UNESCO City of Design Dundee is to look long and hard at what design is, and how designers from all sorts of backgrounds can help make a positive social impact.

“This series of events to launch our UNESCO title is about showing the citizens of Dundee some of the internationally important design that’s happening in our city, and encouraging anyone to come forward with their ideas for using design to solve the challenges they face in everyday life.

“Our ambition is simple – to use design to improve people’s lives. From Guerilla Tea making a game to analyse cancer data to the V&A Dundee team running workshops in our community centres, there are a great many design successes in Dundee that we will build from and develop much further.”

Janet Archer, Chief Executive of Creative Scotland, said: “Securing UNESCO City of Design is a significant achievement for Dundee. It not only recognises the design innovation that Dundee has contributed to the world but also the hard work of the people and organisations behind Dundee's creative and design excellence.

“This accolade firmly positions Dundee on an international stage – alongside Edinburgh as UNESCO City of Literature and Glasgow as UNESCO City of Music.”

The award recognises Dundee’s global impact on design – from biomedical research and drug discovery to world-renowned entertainment including The Beano and Grand Theft Auto – and its ambitions to use design as part of the city’s regeneration.

Dundee’s two leading universities, Abertay University and the University of Dundee, produce hundreds of graduates in different design disciplines every year. Many stay in the city to set up new companies, with the support of organisations like Creative Dundee and Fleet Collective.

The 30-year, £1 billion Waterfront redevelopment includes the V&A Museum of Design Dundee at its heart, a global home for Scotland’s design heritage that will attract visitors from all over the world and work with communities across Scotland to inspire future generations of designers.

The designers at the launch event, held at the University of Dundee’s Discovery Centre for Translational and Interdisciplinary Research, were:

  • A Fox Wot I Drew, game design
  • Janice Aitken, fine art and digital visualisation
  • Johanna Basford, illustrator
  • Diamondsteel, comic design
  • Jane Gowans, jeweller
  • Guerilla Tea, game design
  • Kirsty Maguire, sustainable architecture
  • Know Sugar, diabetes awareness
  • Hayley Scanlan, fashion designer
  • NCR, industrial design
  • Stonesoop, mealsharing community
  • Uan Wool, natural product design

Further information

The three-day launch opened yesterday (Thursday 29 January) with Platforms for Creativity, a free event run by Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design and Creative Dundee focusing on creativity, design and how society can support creativity.

This afternoon (Friday 30 January) Creative Dundee is also holding a Pop-up Design Café at Avery & Co from 2.30-4.30pm where designers and members of the public will meet to discuss their ambitions for the future of Dundee and its citizens as a UNESCO City of Design.

Tonight a public lecture, How Design Can Change a City, will be held at the University of Dundee’s Dalhousie Building from 6.00-7.15pm on Friday 30 January. Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum, and Laura Aalto from Helsinki’s Design Driven City will join local panellists including Philip Long, Director of the V&A Museum of Design Dundee, to discuss Dundee’s future.

The three days are closed tomorrow with DCA Drop in and Play Jnr from 11am-2pm on Saturday 31 January, a family-friendly showcase of game design organised with Abertay University and suitable for children aged 15 and under.

For more information about these events, please visit:


For media enquiries, please contact Chris Wilson (Communications Manager) – T: 01382 308522 M: 07837 250284 E:

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