Dundee UNESCO City of Design launches City Values to outline how they plan to use design to improve people's lives

Dundee City of Design

The UK’s UNESCO City of Design has launched its City Values agreement for participating city-wide partners to pledge to “uphold the values of UNESCO and publicly champion our commitment to using design to improve the lives of our citizens and sustainably grow our economy”.

Dundee is the UK’s first UNESCO Creative City of Design, receiving its designation in December 2014. The City Values agreement reveals how significant the design culture and design thinking is within their local community, as a tool for bringing people together and for driving urban regeneration and development.

One of the aims of the City Values are to “use design to solve the social challenges faced by Dundee”.

The Dundee Partnership is a made up of key Dundee City agencies, such as the City Council, Tayside Police and NHS Tayside, who work together towards the regeneration of Dundee, and to deliver long term community planning. This partnership approved the City Values earlier this year. Originally signed by those within the partnership, the ‘City Values’ have now been opened up to companies, organisations and creative practitioners based in Dundee, who have been invited to show their commitment to these Values. 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.

Philip Long, Director of V&A at Dundee, said:

“Design is a part of all of our lives and can be put to work to help change lives. As such, design has brought together a wide spectrum of organisations and people, who all share the same hopes and aspirations for overcoming Dundee’s social challenges. The discipline of design has a long history of creating positive social change. Designers have the ability to change our tools for everyday living: they are able to shape the environment in which we live, and how we interact with that environment. Design practice is a form of problem solving: designers must identify and understand an issue or challenge, and then work out a way to overcome this challenge, or to communicate it better to the desired audience. As such, designers must have empathy for the human audience, as well as adaptable communication skills, and innovative ideas. It is these skills which are useful for overcoming social issues – and which Dundee is putting into practice outside of the design studio.

As such, design can be seen to be a key tool for spreading UNESCO’s mandate and fulfilling its goals. Dundee is an exemplar of how a city can use its shared heritage, culture and creativity as a way of inspiring community integration and sustainable development.

The signing of the ‘City Values’ took place at ‘The Space’ – a community space for performances and events at Dundee and Angus College. The signing was followed by a performance of modern dance, inspired by UNESCO’s ultimate goal of peace.

Dundee City Council leader Ken Guild 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”.