Dundee has been named the first UNESCO City of Design in the UK, an award that recognises the huge contribution the city has made to design worldwide.
The designation, which has previously been given to just 12 cities including Beijing, Berlin and Montral, is awarded after a city meets tough criteria set by the United Nations organisation.
Today Bilbao (Spain), Curitiba (Brazil), Helsinki (Finland) and Turin (Italy) have also received the same designation.
Councillor Ken Guild, leader of Dundee City Council, said: “This is tremendous news and shows 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.”
The criteria include having an established design industry or industries, a cultural landscape fuelled by design and the built environment, design schools and design research centres, practising groups of creators and designers, and design-driven creative industries.
Dundee’s new title recognises the design innovations that it has contributed to the world, including aspirin, biomedical research that has led to hundreds of new cancer drugs, comics including The Beano and The Dandy, marmalade, and video games including Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto that redefined the global entertainment industry.
Dundee has continually reinvented itself after the collapse of its heavy industries, designing a new future for itself and its citizens. Today the city is rebuilding its expansive Waterfront as part of a £1 billion, 30-year masterplan to design an open, inclusive city of the future.
At the heart of the Waterfront plan is the creation of the V&A Museum of Design Dundee, a global home for Scotland’s design heritage. The city is also home to the DCA, Dundee Rep Theatre, McManus art gallery and Wasps Studios.
Inspiring designers based in Dundee include Sophia George, the V&A’s first Game Designer in Residence, graphic designer and Fleet Collective co-founder Lyall Bruce, jewellery designer Jane Gowans, eco-architect Kirsty Maguire and fashion designer Hayley Scanlan.
Dundee is also home to the first building in the UK to be designed by Frank Gehry, the world famous architect who designed Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum. Maggie’s Dundee was designed to offer a welcoming sense of calm and sanctuary to people with cancer and their family and friends.
Fiona Hyslop, Scottish culture secretary, said: “Warm congratulations must go to everyone who has played a part in bringing this prestigious UNESCO City of Design accolade to Dundee, and indeed Scotland.
“This is a richly deserved accolade and further strengthens the city’s growing reputation as a hub of cultural and creative excellence and an international centre for the creative industries.”
Professor Nigel Seaton, principal of Abertay University, added: “Dundee is a bright, entrepreneurial city with a rich heritage of design innovation, and with ambitious plans rooted in design to regenerate the Waterfront and our communities.
“UNESCO City of Design status is a major recognition of everything Dundee has achieved, from life-saving biosciences innovations to the design of comics and games many created by Abertay graduates and of what we can achieve in the future.”