UNESCO Geelong - City of 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.

In June 2017, we submitted an application to have Geelong recognised by UNESCO; The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (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.

Visit the Geelong City of Design 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.

What is the UNESCO Creative Cities Network?

The 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.

Geelong's design heritage

Our history has been filled with many Australian and world design firsts. 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 and Grant Featherston, furniture designer.

Architecturally, Geelong exhibits a wonderful mix of classic 'Boom Time' civic and industrial buildings, many of which have been repurposed for modern usages. Our stunning, contemporary designed Waterfront precinct, provides the perfect intersection between the human, land and maritime influences of our coastal location.

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.

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)

This is an initiative by the City of Greater Geelong's Economic Development unit. Please contact ecodev@geelongcity.vic.gov.au for more details.

Geelong City of Design Stakeholder Day - March 2019

Page last updated: Thursday, 22 August 2019