UNESCO Creative Cities Network

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created in 2004 to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development. UCCN seeks to develop international cooperation among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable development, in the framework of partnerships including the public and private sectors, professional organizations, communities, civil society, and cultural institutions in all regions of the world. The Creative Cities Network facilitates the sharing of experience, knowledge, and resources among the member cities to promote the development of local creative industries and to foster worldwide cooperation for sustainable urban development. The Network covers seven creative fields: Crafts and Folk Arts, Media Arts, Film, Design, Gastronomy, Literature and Music. Four Chinese cities including Shenzhen, Shanghai, Beijing, and Wuhan have joined UCCN as the City of Design so far.

Shenzhen: China’s first City of Design

Shenzhen was officially designated by UNESCO as the City of Design in 2008, being the first of its kind in China. The designation was the result of recognition by the international community of Shenzhen’s achievement in innovation and creative industries, as well as the professional capacities and capabilities of design enterprises and designers in this city. Shenzhen is a major design hub and one of the leading design cities in China. The city has been regarded as the model for the country’s economic success over the past three decades, as it was chosen as China’s first special economic zone in 1980. The city has a strong capacity for innovation and is recognized as one of China’s high-tech comprehensive industrial bases and an important center for the development of intellectual property rights.

Industrial scale

Over the years, the concept of modern Chinese design was gradually created in Shenzhen and has increasingly become a part of the city and its residents. The scale and quality of industrial design development in Shenzhen hold a leading position in China. The city is home to 22,000 industrial design institutions and more than 150,000 industrial designers and practitioners. Designers in Shenzhen cover various design fields such as graphic design, industrial design, interior and architectural design, fashion design, toy design, jewelry design, crafts design, etc. In 2021, the city’s total output value of its industrial design reached 15.6 billion yuan.

Shenzhen has built 13 national industrial design centers, ranking the first in China. With years of investment in the industry, Shenzhen is able to build a creative design industry successfully. Local enterprises such as FIYTA, AUBE, Artop Group, etc. have been recognized both at home and abroad.

Supportive policies

In 2012, the Shenzhen Municipal Government has introduced the first national industrial design special support policy. Shenzhen is committed to building the top international design events. Since 2017, Shenzhen has been holding the Shenzhen Design Week every year and launched the Shenzhen Global Design Award with a total prize of ten million yuan.

Shenzhen design, as the representative of Chinese design, is playing an increasingly important role in promoting China’s high-quality development. In February 2019, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council issued the Outline Development Plan for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. The Plan supports the introduction of high-end international creative design resources to Shenzhen and the development of the local fashion and cultural industry. It also promotes the industrial design cooperation between Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao and the industrialization of innovative industrial design ideas.

In August 2019, the Opinions of the CPC Central Committee and the State Council on Supporting Shenzhen in Building a Pioneering Demonstration Zone for Socialism with Chinese Characteristics was officially released. The Opinions make it clear that by 2035, Shenzhen’s will become a national model of high-quality development and comprehensive economic competitiveness. The city will also become a city of design, innovation, and entrepreneurship with global influence.

Design events

Shenzhen has been organizing many design events and awards such as Shenzhen Design Week, Shenzhen Global Design Award, and Shenzhen Design Award for Young Talents. Shenzhen Design Week aims at building an international cross-categories, and professional platform for the design industry. This platform will facilitate international culture exchange, city branding and promotion, showcasing design achievements, and public education on design thinking and consciousness. This event is a cultural celebration open to the public with over ten days of creative activities taking place across the city, attracting tens of thousands of designers, enterprises, students, media, and citizens from local and global communities. The Shenzhen Global Design Award, established in 2018, is organized by the city of Shenzhen to recognize and reward outstanding designers, and to enhance exchanges between designers on the city, regional and international scale. The award is supported by the Organizing Committee of the Shenzhen Design Week and organized by the Shenzhen City of Design Promotion Association. The Shenzhen Design Award for Young Talents is an international professional competition specially designed for young designers under the age of 35 within the UNESCO Creative Cities worldwide. It inspires cooperation between creative cities and nurtures the sharing of experiences and ideas for developing creative and cultural industries.

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