DesignCities: Montréal

May 8–13, 2011 | Montréal, Québec, Canada

DesignCities: Montréal

In 2006, Montréal, Québec, Canada was designated by UNESCO as the first and only North American City Of Design. From the cultural legacy of Expo 67 and the 1976 Olympics, to numerous examples of contemporary creative work including art, fashion, performing arts and architecture, Montréal is clearly a creative hotspot. Its languages, its prejudices, its line-ups, la mode: all of these elements inform Montréal’s global disposition and local temperament. So, are design qualities somehow inherent in Montréal’s topographies, its citizens, its outputs? What makes a “City of Design” more relevant or significant than any other similarly vaunted location? Are these qualities designed by designers or do they evolve out of the way people use the city? Can we identify the characteristics of the dialog between the city and its users? (Can we emphasize the dialog by adding something or taking something away?)

The notion that design practice, and the presence of designers, can alter the trajectory of a city for the better is an assumption that beseeches exploration and testing. Meeting Montréal’s flora and fauna—getting used to its habits and communicating with its inhabitants—was at the core of DesignInquiry-slash-Montréal. We were there as designers, exploring this design town.