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Int'l urban design conference opens in Seoul

All Headlines 15:36 February 23, 2010

SEOUL, Feb. 23 (Yonhap) -- An international design conference kicked off in Seoul Tuesday, with mayors and representatives from more than 30 metropolitan cities worldwide sharing experience of urban design and discussing ways to develop design-related policies.

The World Design Cities (WDC) Summit was organized in commemoration of the South Korean capital's designation as the World Design Capital 2010, officials said.

Under the main theme of "Design and cities: designing a competitive city for the 21st century," the two-day conference brought together mayors and high-ranking officials from 31 cities in 17 countries -- including Turin, Helsinki and Beijing.

"Design is everything," Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon said in his speech at the opening ceremony. "Good design helps local government communicate with its citizens and creates high added value. Ultimately, design is the key to enhancing quality of life," he emphasized.

Euh Yoon-dae, chairman of the Presidential Council on National Branding, said in a speech: "Urban design is not merely about pursuing visual beauty... but also about granting order and character to a city and making it pleasant. We, through this, can improve competitiveness of cities."

Matthias Horx, a renowned German futurist, delivered a keynote speech titled "Design and the future: how design changes the world."

"Designers bring to the cities traffic, ideas, new energies and money, which can't be generated using the old methods of industrial thinking," he said. "True design is not about building a new big shiny house, it's about letting people shine in and around houses."

In the first plenary session, Oh, along with the mayors of Helsinki and Turin, discussed ways to achieve urban development by capitalizing on design. Turin served as a "trial city" of the WDC in 2008 and Helsinki has been designated as the design capital for the next biennial conference in 2012.

On Wednesday, conference participants will adopt the so-called "Seoul design city declaration" in a round-table meeting to share successful cases of urban design and discuss ways to achieve urban development.

The declaration will sum up the conference's results and propose future directions of urban development through design, city officials said.

Seoul was designated in 2007 as the World Design Capital for this year by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design. Founded in 1957, the council is a global not-for-profit organization that promotes better design around the world. It currently has over 150 members in more than 50 countries, representing an estimated 150,000 designers.


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