World Design Policy Conference, one of the Signature Events of Valencia World Design Capital 2022 and the World Design Organization®, was celebrated with huge success on the 3rd and 4th of November at the Palacio de Congresos de Valencia.
Over half a thousand people including companies, organizations and institutions that consider design a key tool in their corporate and growth strategies attended the event which represented ‘the beginning of the end of the Valencia World Design Capital’, as its director Xavi Calvo stated in the inauguration. At the headquarters of this event, a building designed by Norman Foster, the great urban challenges that are deeply rooted in the activities of society were addressed, such as the new generation of design policies in the Mediterranean region.
The initiative – which has the support of IVACE, Valencia City Council, Valencia Provincial Council, and the Fundació del Disseny de la Comunitat Valenciana, and with Renfe as official transport – had the mission of constituting a sustainable meeting point over time that would allow progress to be made in the generalization and adoption of design policies on a global scale. To this end, ‘we have the opportunity to listen to the best in the world working from design in public and private policies’, commented the president of Valencia World Design Capital, Marisa Gallén.
Structured around five major themes in which design has and will have an opportunity to provide solutions: action plans, the transformation of cities, social change, education and the very promotion of design as a necessary tool for society, each of them has been attended by international experts in the field such as Ezio Manzini (President of DESIS Network), Alok Nandi (Professor of Design, Creativity and Innovation at the Institut Paul Bocuse), Hanna Harris (Chief Design Officer of Helsinki), Brandon Gien (CEO of Good Design Australia), Anna Whicher (head of design policy at the International Design and Research Centre) and Leyla Acaroglu, sustainability strategist.
- Ezio Manzini: ‘To rethink design is to rethink the deep philosophy of who we are as human beings. We are all silent designers.’
- Leyla Acaroglu: ‘The problems of the past are in our present and we as designers must create the future, create regenerative systems.’
- Brandon Gien: ‘Good design solves problems and the best design avoids them.’
Contrasting experiences from different parts of the world, it is clear that there is no one-size-fits-all formula. However, many lessons can be learned by adapting to different contexts. All perspectives have been put into question in the World Design Policy Conference: initiatives from top-down institutions, or born from the bottom-up civil society, national governmental strategies as in the case of Australia or actions at a local level such as the Consell Local del Disseny de València, explained Joan Ribó, Mayor of Valencia, in the press conference to inaugurate the congress: "a pioneering and consultative body formed by a group of professionals external and independent from the municipal government that will advise all areas of the local administration in a transversal way’. Design action plans are an instrument whose effectiveness has been proven by experience, despite the fact that they have never been put into practice in Spain. However, it has also been proposed to transcend this vision aimed at promoting design for a more global one, more focused on how design can help the world. Miguel Iceta, Minister of Culture and Sport, echoed the objective of the World Design Policy Conference: ‘This congress aims to generate a more fruitful relationship with the sector. The issues that will be dealt with at this congress are key, but it will be even more important to know how to apply design from the local to the global level. The impetus given by Valencia has served to bring together a sector, make it known and communicate how this ecosystem generates a link, improves processes and generates wealth’. It is no coincidence that ‘cultural industries account for 3.4% of Spain’s gross domestic product. Of this total, 22% is accounted for by design’.
All participants pointed to different initiatives to bring institutions closer to the design profession as a two-way street. And also to professionals to rethink their role in a complex and changing reality.