The World Design Summit – Montréal 2017 is an unprecedented international gathering of diverse disciplines with a common focus: how design can shape the future. Montréal will host design professionals, government and business leaders, industry representatives, media and NGOs from around the world.

From October 16 to 25, 2017, attendees will come together to transcend silos, foster cooperation and enhance professional development. More than a mere celebration of design, the Summit will demonstrate the tremendous power of design to create viable solutions to global social, economic, cultural and environmental challenges.

The World Design Summit Organization announced its first keynote speakers, two major figures in the design world and, more specifically, of urban design and architecture: Jan Gehl, a major figure of urban design since the 1970s, known worldwide for an approach that puts humans at the heart of urban development, and Belinda Tato the cofounder of Ecosistema Urbano, a Madrid-based firm established in 2000 where architects and urban designers combine their disciplines with engineering and sociology, in order to improve the self-organization of citizens, social interaction within communities and their relationship with the environment.


The World Design Summit has been generating great enthusiasm around the world, as shown by the hundreds of proposals for content submitted from forty countries, over the last few months. A second call for proposal, open once again to architecture, graphic design, urban design, interior design, landscape architecture, industrial design and interstitial or hybrid practices, will be announced in early 2017.

World Design Summit 6 Major themes:

Design for Participation

In this era, individuals and groups can take part in social and political life – or all kinds of private or public projects – through a number of public platforms and policies. In this often collaborative and consultative context, what is the role and status of the designer? Design disciplines fundamentally contribute to shaping the virtual and physical public spaces of communities, as well as fostering and shaping culture and heritage, both past and future. How can designers help address issues like inequality or the evolution of participation and representation in the political process and in social life?

Design for Earth

In the midst of the Anthropocene, how can we transform our living environments to respect the capacity of ecosystems and, even more, restore their balance and reveal their potential? Humans are indeed part of nature and, as such, as fragile as our living environment. Beyond responding to emergencies and disasters or immediate conditions, the design disciplines can also offer broader, sustainable approaches to shape the world for the long term. Going beyond short-term, market-driven needs can allow designers to drop conventions, look at their work on a different scale and become agents of change who can generate alternatives to the status quo.

Design for Beauty

From creating useful objects to planning green spaces in urban contexts, design disciplines share a concern for sensible and wise design, in a world in search of meaning and prosperity. The beauty of designed objects, buildings, interiors, cities and landscape isn’t superfluous: it is essential. However, the decision of making them beautiful or not is often political. Furthermore, these perspectives on sustaining wellbeing and making life more than just bearable oscillate between universal design that reaches across the globe to inspiration from local realities that can provide more adapted ways to improve quality of life.

Design for Sale?

The role of design within modern economic systems can take many shapes and generate often unexpected results – with outcomes that can be significantly better or worse than originally planned. What is the value of design, within the production of goods and the development of society as a whole? While design can be used for commodity, it can also be used for the common good, with the latter implying a more political design voice, driven by values and ideals, rather than a solely monetary purpose.

Design for Transformation

Climatic shifts, seasonal changes, day and night cycles, high tides, low tides and human tides all impose transformative criteria and context to the design of goods, experiences and processes, both for more permanent projects and for more fleeting moments. The evolving nature of the relationship between cities, their surrounding hinterland and global networks of all kinds also create a need for adapting and rethinking territories and exchanges. New insights, new approaches, new tools and new materials facilitate the increased need to design, redesign or rethink – and therefore make design a source of transformation.

Design for Extremes

Recent migratory movements are challenging political and design strategies to forecast gradual human migrations between countries and even within one country, through political upheavals and/or as a result of climate change. As rising sea levels change the shape of continents, as new spaces become more accessible and others unliveable, the capacity to adjust to such dramatic shifts will become even more essential. Canada, reaching all the way to the Arctic, will be at the heart of those changes. How can design solutions support these sociological, economic or political migrations?



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