Designing a New Future: Dundee Signs UNESCO City of Design Agreement

The UK’s first UNESCO City of Design signed a ‘City Values’ agreement on Thursday 3 December to show Dundee’s commitment to using design to improve people’s lives.

The ceremony at Dundee & Angus College marked the public commitment of partners across Dundee – from the NHS, police and fire service to the council, college and universities – to use design to improve the lives of its citizens and sustainably grow the local economy.

Dundee is the first city in Scotland to make this commitment across its public sector agencies – and to invite everyone in the city to get involved.

From today, companies, organisations and creative practitioners based in Dundee are invited to show their commitment to the City Values, which include promoting social justice, raising aspirations, involving communities in collaboratively designing services, and growing the economy through design-led business innovation.

V&A Museum of Design Dundee was the first signatory to the agreement outside of the Dundee Partnership, followed by local social enterprise Creative Dundee.

Councillor Ken Guild, chair of the Dundee Partnership and leader of the administration, Dundee City Council, said:

“Dundee is already benefiting from being a UNESCO City of Design and this agreement will take it even further. “We need to inspire future generations to develop their creativity so that Dundee stays a cultural city for years to come. UNESCO will lead to many opportunities throughout the city and I am delighted to sign this agreement.”

Philip Long, Director of V&A Museum of Design Dundee, said:

“Design is a part of all of our lives and can be put to work to help change lives. It’s very exciting to see partners from across the city coming together to sign up to these inspiring values, which have the potential to make such a difference to our citizens.” “With projects already happening across Dundee and Angus such as our Schools Design Challenge, and with V&A Dundee’s construction now well underway, we are looking forward to playing as great a part as possible in the city’s exciting future.”

Gillian Easson, Director of Creative Dundee, said:

“Dundee has always had an incredibly vibrant creative sector which is wide-reaching and impacts all aspects of city life – social, cultural and economic. The City Values agreement is a great way of highlighting these strengths by using design to improve the future of Dundee and its citizens.” “We’re particularly keen to see local businesses and the public sector get behind the City Values agreement – ensuring more local commissioning of creative work, which we hope ultimately leads to more people choosing to stay or relocate to Dundee to be part of its lively creative scene.”

Dundee became the UK’s first UNESCO City of Design in December 2014, and is one of only 16 cities in the world to hold the prestigious title.

The UNESCO 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.

Throughout 2015 a small coordinating team – including representatives of Dundee City Council, Abertay University, Creative Dundee and the University of Dundee – has been developing the programme of work for the coming years, working with the Dundee Partnership.

The City Values document was approved earlier this year by the Dundee Partnership, the city’s community planning partnership. This group includes Dundee City Council, Scottish Enterprise, NHS Tayside, Dundee’s two leading universities, Dundee & Angus College, and other public bodies and representatives of the community, voluntary and private sectors.

To start applying the City Values agreement, senior managers of Dundee City Council recently took part in service design workshops with Professor Mike Press and Hazel White of the University of Dundee and the Open Change partnership, exploring how design tools can be used to improve public services.

Open Change has also recently been working with medical professionals in the city to explore design-led innovation in healthcare services.

V&A Dundee is currently running its first Schools Design Challenge with staff and S1 pupils from schools across Dundee and Angus, encouraging 11 and 12-year-olds to get involved in using design to change their everyday environment. All 18 secondary schools in Dundee and Angus have signed up to respond to the design challenge, ‘How could you improve your school or school life?’

Other initiatives underway in the city include the new £1.6 million business incubator space at Dundee & Angus College, to support its students to develop and establish new companies based in the city. The fledgling businesses receiving support currently include web designers, photographers and app developers.

The full City Values agreement is available from the UNESCO City of Design Dundee website:


Press Release Date: 4 December 2015
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