About Don Norman


World Design Capital for 2024


In 2014, when I started the Design Lab at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), I wanted to build the design community of San Diego. The first step was to find the design community, because every designer we encountered stated that there were only a few designers in the area. Well, we found thousands. But obviously, they were not organized, so together with my Associate Director, Michèle Morris, we organized two major meetings of all designers in the area plus civic leaders and started a non-profit organization, the Design Forward Alliance (DFA) to help bring the design community together.

We also needed a compelling framework and vision, one that would set up this region as a premier spot for design. After all, how could we build a world-class Design Lab unless the city itself was a world-class center for design? A friend, Srini Srinivasan, President of the World Design organization, suggested we apply to become the World Design Capital (WDC), an official designation awarded by the World Design Organization every two years, but one that required a massive endeavor. I had attended a design event in Torino, Italy when it was the first WDC. And I was teaching at KAIST in Korea when Seoul became WDC, and a fellow faculty member of KAIST became vice-mayor of Seoul to help create the event. And I had visited Mexico City with the people organizing its program for WDC. So yes, we should also become WDC.

DFA and the UCSD Design lab led the project. It took over 7 years to gather the people and ideas required to write the proposal, but finally, with a huge team of committed, energetic people, we submitted a proposal to make two cities the World Design Capital: San Diego and Tijuana. (WDO said no, that was not permitted, but we did it anyway.) designers, foundations, civic leaders, and the mayors of both San Diego and Tijuana created a massive campaign and an impressive proposal to make the San Diego/Tijuana region become the designated World Design Capital for 2024 (WDC).

A huge team of dedicated people was involved, but let me single out Michèle Morris, Associate Director of the Design Lab and Scott Robinson, President of DFA for leading the effort. (See https://home2024.com/)