Geelong – UNESCO City of Design

Posted 29 June 2018

UNESCO Geelong – City of Design

Geelong’s design heritage

Our history has been filled with many Australian and world design firsts and some Geelong inventions or designs have changed the world.

Geelong is the home of the first designed commercial refrigeration (James Harrison 1851). The Ford ‘ute’, which is the forerunner to the modern SUV, was designed by Lew Bandt and built here in 1934.

There is the Hills Hoist, which was a staple in so many Australian backyards in the mid to late twentieth century.

Geelong is also the birth place and home of a number of significant world renowned design practitioners, including:

  • Stuart Devlin, AO, CMG.  Stuart has long been recognised as a leader in gold and silver design, developing new techniques that paved the way for designers across the world.  Stuart was granted the Royal Warrant of Appointment as Goldsmith and Jeweller to Her Majesty the Queen.  His commissions have included design of coins and medals for 36 countries.
  • Grant Featherston, the ‘game changing’ designer of modern furniture. Featherston’s most famous pieces were his Contour series, designed in the early 1950’s, and the ‘ahead of its time’ Talking Chair, which debuted at the 1967 Montreal World Expo.

Architecturally, Geelong exhibits a wonderful mix of classic ‘Boom Time’ civic and industrial buildings, many of which have been maintained, but repurposed for modern usages.  These sit comfortably beside the stunning, contemporary designed Waterfront precinct, which has been created to provide the perfect intersection between the human, land and maritime influences of this wonderful coastal asset.

Design remains a driver of the Geelong economic and creative sectors, with Ford Motor Company committing its resources to the Geelong based Hi-Tech Design, Innovation and Research Centre.  Deakin University’s Carbon Nexus and the Australian Future Fibres Research Innovation Centre, providing world leading materials based around applied design.

As Australia’s first (and only) City of Design, Geelong is a member of the UNESCO Creative City Network. 

It is a recognition that Geelong has historically been, and will continue to be, shaped and influenced by design.

UNESCO Creative Cities Network

Being part of the UNESCO Creative Cities network has two key aims:

  • Raise awareness about the power of creativity and innovation in building sustainable cities and communities.
  • Promoting cooperation with and among cities that identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.

9792360-3x2-700x467The UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) was created in 2004.  The aim of the Network is to make creativity an essential driver for sustainable urban renewal and development. Today, the Network comprises 180 cities from 73 countries, working together towards common objectives:

  • Placing creativity and cultural industries at the core of development plans at the local level.
  • Actively cooperating through inter-city partnerships at the international level.

To foster partnerships and synergy, the UCCN cities are designated in one of the seven creative fields covered by the Network:

  • crafts and folk art
  • design
  • film
  • gastronomy
  • literature
  • music
  • media arts.

Other Creative Cities of Design

There are currently 30 other UNESCO Cities of Design around the world, eight of these were included in the 2017 intake:

  • Bandung – Indonesia
  • Beijing – China
  • Berlin – Germany
  • Bilbao – Spain
  • Brasilia – Brazil (2017)
  • Budapest – Hungary
  • Buenos Aires – Argentina
  • Cape Town – South Africa (2017)
  • Curitiba – Brazil
  • Detroit – USA
  • Dubai – United Arab Emirates (2017)
  • Dundee – Scotland
  • Graz – Austria
  • Helsinki – Finland
  • Istanbul – Turkey (2017)
  • Kaunas – Lithuania
  • Kobe – Japan
  • Kolding – Denmark (2017)
  • Kortrijk – Belgium (2017)
  • Mexico City – Mexico (2017)
  • Montreal – Canada
  • Nagoya – Japan
  • Peubla – Mexico
  • Saint-Etienne – France
  • Seoul – South Korea
  • Shanghai – China
  • Shenzhen – China
  • Singapore – Singapore
  • Turin – Italy
  • Wuhan – China (2017)

Visit the Creative City of Design Geelong website for full details.

To be considered a Creative City, Geelong needed to satisfy a set of criteria, set out by UNESCO. On 31 October, Geelong was announced as part of the 64 city intake for 2017.

In June 2017, we submitted an application to have Geelong recognised by UNESCO (through their Creative Cities Network) as a City of Design.

This project was undertaken with direct input and financial support of Creative Victoria, Deakin University, Creative Futures and the Australian Centre for Innovation and Design, with support and collaboration of key local stakeholders, including the Committee for Geelong, G21 and the Geelong Chamber of Commerce.

This is an initiative by our City of Greater Geelong’s economic development unit “Enterprise Geelong”. Please contact  for more details.

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