What makes a city a UNESCO City of Design city?

Designer Brian Asquith ''Sheffield Peace Garden Fonts, designed by Brian Asquith''Water jug, commissioned from Brian Asquith from the Worshipful Company of Oldsmiths
Designer Brian Asquith ''Sheffield Peace Garden Fonts, designed by Brian Asquith''Water jug, commissioned from Brian Asquith from the Worshipful Company of Oldsmiths
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ONLY 11 other cities around the world hold the UNESCO City of Design title.

Skyscrapers, sports arenas and concert halls conceived in Sheffield will be at the heart of the bid.

So, too, will the latest Marks and Spencer sandwich range packaging, neon lights, and Coca-Cola labels designed by city graphic artist Ian Anderson.

Specific reference will also be made to the city’s steel heritage, and Sheffield’s history - including how it was home to one of the UK’s first design schools.

Johnny Douglas, of Designed In Sheffield, the collective behind the bid, said: “We are already a city at the cutting edge in this field, and this is about showing it to the rest of the world.

“We already meet the criteria set by UNESCO for the title - such as having an established industry and a history of design.”

Deborah Egan, also of Designed in Sheffield, said: “When we talk about design we’re talking about everything from industrial to architecture, graphics, web, digital, fashion and even theatre. This is a city which is - and has always been - at the cutting edge of all those things.

“The only problem is we’re not great at shouting about it. Well, this is what we want to change. When people around the world think of Sheffield from now on we don’t just want them to think of steel, we also want them to think of great design.”

Mr Douglas added that, although the title is purely honorary, the experience of the other 11 cities suggested it would represent a huge economic shot in the arm.

“We have spoken to Seoul and Berlin about their experiences and the feedback we get is that becoming a City of Design leads to more work for firms in the city, which in turn leads to new practices being established,” he said.

“They say the results have been absolutely tangible.”

The other UNESCO Cities of Design are Santa Fe in the USA, Bueno Aires in Argentina, Nagoya and Kobe both in Japan, Shenzhen and Shanghai in China, Saint-Etienne in France and Graz in Austria.

Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore said: “This would be a huge and well-deserved boost for Sheffield.”

Costs of putting the bid together will be negligible, as much of the work will be done voluntarily by Designed In Sheffield.

A 70-page document will now be drawn up over the next 18 months to submit next year to UNESCO - the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

One of the key aspects of the bid is showing off the huge infrastructure projects which have had city involvement.

In particular, it is thought, will be the work of the SCX Group, in Roman Ridge Road, which engineered the retractable roof at Wimbledon’s Centre Court, and Outo Kumpu, in Stevenson Road, which created the steel used in the Petronas Towers.

A concert hall built in Bodo, in the Arctic Circle, by Sheffield architects could also be included.

At the other end of the scale, work by individual city designers like the late Brian Asquith, who designed the fountains and furniture in the Peace Gardens, will also be included.

Neon lights used by Coldplay during their headline slot at Glastonbury were also created here, by Surelight in Millhouses. The M&S sandwich packaging was born at Design Futures, in Arundel Street.

And the city’s history will also be emphasised in the bid.

The Sheffield School of Design was opened in 1864 and was one of the first anywhere in the world, while Sir John Fowler, who helped pioneer the London Underground, and David Mellor, who designed the UK’s traffic light system, were both Sheffielders.

‘Our heritage makes the city vibrant and creative’

SHEFFIELD business and civic leaders today lined up to support the bid to turn Sheffield into a UNESCO City of Design.

Julie Dore, council leader, said: “We all know Sheffield is a city with a great history of design and craft.

“From engineering and metalwork, to our award winning public spaces, to iPhone apps and ground-breaking film and theatre, Sheffield’s tradition of designing is as deep as its tradition of manufacturing. It is this heritage that makes Sheffield the independent, vibrant and creative city we enjoy.

“The creative and digital industries play a role in Sheffield’s economy with around 100 firms employing 1,200 people, and with a collective turnover of £145m a year.”

David Howarth, architect and member of the Sheffield Sustainable Design Panel, said: “It’s a great thing to be doing.

“Sheffield is undoubtedly one of the most creative cities in the UK, whether through graphic design, new media or architecture. And it’s always been at the forefront of using design to improve lives - that was the thinking, for example, behind both Park Hill and the Hole In The Road.

“It’s a city that is constantly pushing boundaries, and I think getting this title could only encourage that more. The economic benefits could be invaluable.”

Paul Blomfield, MP for Sheffield Central, said: “I very warmly support this initiative. We have a great tradition of creativity and innovation which reflects in both our traditional industry but also in new industries in the creative sector.”

Alison Kinna, UK managing director with steel firm Outokumpu, said: “Anything which promotes Sheffield’s name has to be a good thing.”