Lille Metropole, France overcame a compelling bid from Sydney to become the new World Design Capital for 2020. The World Design Organization (WDO) awarded the city of Lille the prestigious designation recently at the WDO’s General Assembly in Torino, Italy.

Five international cities had registered their intent to bid for the designation in April 2017, with only two cities, Sydney, Australia and Lille, France remaining in contention when the shortlist was announced in June 2017.

WDO representatives visited Sydney in July this year to assess the bid on the ground, and were impressed with the scale and breadth of private sector support for Sydney’s bid, and how the city had captured the ambitions of the WDO’s own growth and transition in the proposed program.

The bid team also heard that Sydney’s bid needed more support from governments at all levels where design leadership and innovation in policy were needed most.

According to Dr Brandon Gien, CEO of Good Design Australia, one of the organisations behind Sydney’s bid, they were not able to secure the relevant government support needed to proceed with confidence; however, their bid has started something that Sydney and Australia can take forward.

Dr Gien explained that more than 40 organisations and individuals shared ideas, strategies and projects, making their bid very compelling. He added that Sydney made the shortlist thanks to the support and enthusiasm of the partnership behind this bid, which included the NSW Architects Registration Board and Frost Collective.

Emphasising their commitment to continue to promote the value and importance of design to Sydney and to Australia’s economy as a whole, Dr Gien said the bid aimed to shape a narrative around how human-centric design can help improve business, industry, environment and society. While they had hoped to use the designation to help amplify this message to Australia and the world, they will continue their efforts regardless of the outcome.

Vince Frost, CEO of Frost Collective who formed part of the bid coalition, observed that the groundswell support for Sydney’s bid provided an important catalyst to bring the disparate efforts of the design industry together. With more and more successful businesses pointing to design-led innovation as a means to grow productivity and competitiveness, the coalition is determined to use the World Design Capital experience as a vehicle to create a more cohesive Australian design agenda where business, industry and government become more engaged and informed about the true value of design at every level.

Congratulating the city and the people of Lille, France, Tim Horton, Registrar for the NSW Architects Registration Board said that they have seen the passion and support generated by Lille over the last 12 months to support their bid and are inspired by their achievements.