San Diego / Tijuana finalist for World Design Capital

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San Diego and Tijuana are having a one-man party this week, and you’ve probably never heard his name.

A native of Montreal, Bertrand Derome, CEO of the World Design Organization, receives the red carpet in two countries as cities compete for the title of World Design Capital.

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The prize means a global spotlight on the region and a lot of free publicity. Selected every two years, the World Design Organization, based in Montreal, chooses a different city as its “capital”. Some previous winners have been Seoul, Helsinki, Cape Town and Mexico City. San Diego and Tijuana decided to apply together as a binational region.

The festivities kicked off Sunday night with a jazz concert, light show and a chic night out for Derome at the Rady Shell in Jacobs Park. There were only about 200 people at the event for a venue capable of holding 3,500. The $ 85 million shell on San Diego Bay opened in August.

“It’s a great city and an amazing place. I have to say I’m quite impressed with the design communities that have come together, ”said Derome at the event.

He is not the only one who decides, but Derome is the only one to visit the finalist cities of San Diego / Tijuana and Moscow. He has just returned from Moscow, but declined to give any indication of how he was bending over.

Derome said a winning bid will show how a region uses design to create change to improve the quality of life for its citizens. He said it can be in a environmental, cultural, social or economic manner.

He said he didn’t know much about San Diego and Tijuana prior to the candidacy, even briefly confusing San Diego with San Jose because he knows the Sharks professional hockey team well. However, he said San Diego is a city the world doesn’t hear enough about and the World Design Capital award can start to change that.

The cost of the offer is a bit difficult to calculate as it is mostly based on thousands of volunteer hours and donated spaces in key locations that Derome will be visiting. However, the World Design Organization application fee includes a request of 10,000 Canadian dollars (7,943 US dollars) and 25,000 Canadian dollars (19,859 US dollars) for cities that make up the final list of cities. preselected. The winner must pay a hosting fee of CAN $ 600,000 (US $ 476,631) over the next three years.

The local effort was led by the San Diego-based Design Forward Alliance, which said the cost of covering expenses was covered. through corporate donations and a GoFundMe campaign who continues to raise money. When it comes to nonprofits, the alliance is relatively small. His most recent tax returns submitted in 2020 showed he had net assets of $ 56,849 and executives are not being paid. The alliance said it estimates the potential economic impact of the designation to be $ 1.5 billion.

The organizers will take Derome on a two-day whirlwind tour of the two cities. Volunteers lamented that he didn’t cover everything the area has to offer, but they hoped their selections would do enough to impress him. He will also have talks with different nonprofits and design groups.

Monday, Derome was escorted throughout San Diego County with stops at the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center, UC San Diego’s Design and Innovation Building, Balboa Park, Chicano Park, and downtown developments under construction.

On Tuesday he will cross the border to stay at the Quartz Hotel and visit the Bujazán Cinema, Playas de Tijuana Friendship Park, Tijuana Circular Cultural Center and, Tijuana style, will feast on local cuisine. at Tijuana Culinary. Art school and a party organized by the design community. The keystone of the entire tour will be the Cross Border Xpress, or CBX, facility which allows travelers outside of Tijuana Airport to easily travel to the United States and vice versa.

The word design is generally thought of as structures, such as buildings, but the World Design Organization goes beyond to include other ways that innovation helps people. For example, the alliance included Illumina’s work to speed up human genome sequencing as a design example in its bid.

Winning the title means a year of events to promote the region, including a street festival, a day-long celebration showcasing the winner’s creations, and a design conference that is expected to bring together people from all over the world. The program started in 2008 and no American city has ever won.

Derome said a winner will be selected this month. If San Diego / Tijuana wins, the title will be for 2024. The current World Design Capital is the French city of Lille, and it will move to Valencia, Spain, in 2022.

Seda Evis, board member of the nominee organizers, Design Forward Alliance, said designers have been talking about the award nomination for years, but they really started working hard on an entry in 2020. She said most of the work was done virtually by more than 30 volunteers during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region, from November 2020 to February 2021.

Evis said working virtually means the pandemic hasn’t done much to slow progress. In the end, the alliance submitted a 250-page report to the World Design Organization.

Carlos Cristiani, executive director of the Design Forward Alliance bid team, said the addition of Tijuana made sense as the city is experiencing explosive growth and, with it, tons of new skyscrapers. He moved from Mexico City to San Diego 20 years ago to study at UC San Diego and has spent the last decades living in both cities. He said Tijuana had been hit hard by the Great Recession, but that it had really come to life in recent years with the growth of technology companies and a booming food scene.

Mayor Todd Gloria said at Sunday’s event that there could be a wall separating San Diego and Tijuana but the cities are interconnected, and the joint bid is an example of how important the two regions are to one. for the other.

“Together, San Diego and Tijuana form an international mega-region that is growing in importance on the world stage,” he said during a speech to the crowd. “I say this with great humility, San Diego and Tijuana, I believe, represent the future of our global world.”

San Diego and Tijuana could have stiff competition from Moscow. Its offering included a flashy video that spotlighted new skyscrapers, a rich history, younger designers, its new Moscow City Business Center (which took nearly 30 years to come to fruition) and its recently completed floating bridge, a structure near Red Square that overlooks the Moskva River like a boomerang.


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