The Bid Story

Cape Town’s bid was not about the city claiming that it is already an established ‘design capital’, but instead it was a bid to acknowledge that we are using design thinking as a tool for transformation.

Why did Cape Town bid?

Watch Cape Town’s Bid Video, produced for our winning bid and featured on


Contemporary Cape Town is a tale of two cities: one a postcard narrative of wild beauty and sophisticated cosmopolitanism, the other a story of poverty and urban degradation. What connects the two realities are its four million inhabitants, who share the same hopes, depend on the same resources and whose future prospects are inseparable.

In the past we were divided by design – by the social engineering of the apartheid era. It is by design, and a reshaping of the cityscape, that a safer, more efficient and inclusive home for all our residents is being forged.

2014 is not just a programme of events. It represents a step in the process of changing how the city and its people approach development and use innovative thinking and design to transform Cape Town.

As the first World Design Capital from a developing country, and the first from Africa, it is also a chance for Cape Town to help articulate design-based solutions to challenges faced by the 90% of the world’s populations that live in the developing world.

The Bid Timeline

The  title is awarded in advance, allowing winning cities sufficient time to plan, develop and promote a year-long programme of World Design Capital-themed events for their designated year.

Cape Town’s 465-page  2014 bid book was officially handed over to City of Cape Town Executive Mayor, Alderman Dan Plato, on 30 March 2011, a day before the formal ICSID submission deadline of 31 March 2011.

In July 2011, three shortlisted cities for the 2014 title were announced, and an ICSID site visit to each of these cities took place in July 2011.

Cape Town was designated  for 2014 in October 2011.


Watch Cape Town’s Signing Ceremony Video, produced for our winning bid and featured on