Isabel Roig takes on the World Design Weeks’ presidency

The global network World Design Weeks, founded in 2016 by the Design Weeks of Barcelona, Helsinki, the Netherlands, San Francisco, Toronto, Mexico City, Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo, has decided to move its headquarters from Helsinki to the Catalan capital city. The rules stipulate that the headquarters can rotate every three years, and during the next period, the office will be located at the Design Hub Barcelona, providing an added value to the City Council’s will to stimulate the creative talent of the city.

With this incorporation, the Design Hub Barcelona will strengthen its strategic influence as the neuralgic center of design and innovation in the city. The director of the Barcelona Center of Design and the Barcelona Design Week, Isabel Roig, has been appointed as president of the World Design Weeks. According to her, hosting the headquarters in our city is great news. “It’s a young organisation but it’s growing, and now is a good time to give a creative city like Barcelona a little push”, she says.

The news arrives in an unprecedented context. Coronavirus is preventing movements between countries and congregations of peoples. This forces a rethinking of events like the Design Week, which has been rescheduled this year from June to November. “It’s obvious that this is a difficult year and that the general slowdown has affected us, but this is precisely the reason why we are really looking forward to a Design Week which seeks to recover the city”, Roig mentions. Barcelona is historically renowned for its design sector and, according to her, it now has the chance to continue growing within a network. “Being connected with other cities of the world allows us to make collaborations, to learn from each other, to have reciprocal connections and open dialogues”, she adds.

Furthermore, it becomes necessary to innovate formats. From now on, events will be hybrid; this means they will have a digital and presential format, as long as the sanitary indications allows so. Roig doesn’t consider it an inconvenience: “through online events, you can reach wider and larger audiences; for instance, a streamed conference can be joined by people around the world, but you can’t chat while having a coffee. There are both negative and positive consequences, and we intend to nuance them as they are encountered”. 

For now, this year’s Barcelona Design Week is expected to be an event “which floods the city”, so “any actor, entity or company can do an activity, and we want to have events in all districts”. Even though the mandatory stop has whipped the design sector –like many others–, Isabel Roig is positive that people are really keen on reactivating, and that “we must take the advantage of the opportunity that hosting the headquarters of the World Design Weeks means. It’s good for the city, for the design sector, and for all the citizens of Barcelona”, she claims. Beyond boosting the creative community, she sees space “to support commerce, catering and hotel businesses”.

The City Council’s councilor for Tourism and Creative Industries, Xavier Marcé, values the hosting of the headquarters as “magnificent news, linking us to the will of the local government to put this sector as among the strategic axes of the economic activity, giving us the chance of making, out of creativity and design, one of the key values of Barcelona’s international projection”. 

The Design Week is a must for professionals in design, creativity and innovation. It is an opportunity to share the sector's vitality with the citizens and to show the world the local talent. Last year’s Barcelona Design Week was considered by Dezeen magazine as the “greatest event of architecture, design and technology in 2019”.

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