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DESIGNING THE FUTURE. The World Design Summit - Montréal 2017 (WDS) is an unprecedented international gathering of diverse disciplines with a common focus: how design can shape the future. Montréal will host design professionals, government and business leaders, industry representatives, media and NGOs from around the world. For 10 days, attendees will come together to transcend silos, foster cooperation and enhance professional development. More than a mere celebration of design, the Summit will demonstrate the tremendous power of design to create viable solutions to global social, economic, cultural and environmental challenges.

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What are the necessary and innovative design ideas and actions that bring about better futures, and how does design in all its facets respond to issues as a transformational agent that supports political, economic and everyday societal needs? These are the key questions that will drive discussions at the World Design Summit. We invite you to submit proposals for presentations and sessions inspired by the Summit’s six major themes, outlined below. The call for proposals is open to scholars, practitioners and concerned parties from all spectrums of the design disciplines, including architecture, graphic design, industrial design, interior design, landscape architecture, urban planning and interstitial or hybrid practices. We are looking for presentations and papers that promote the value of design, that provoke paradigm shifts, and that propose how we might transform futures through design. We encourage the coming together of the design disciplines to explore issues of importance to all disciplines, from both specific and interdisciplinary perspectives.

The announcement of the results will now be released on January 17th, 2017. We would like to apologize to the candidates for this delay and thank them for their understanding. A second call for proposals will be held at the end of January.

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6 major themes

Design for

In this era, individuals and groups can take part in social and political life – or all kinds of private or public projects – through a number of public platforms and policies. In this often collaborative and consultative context, what is the role and status of the designer? Design disciplines fundamentally contribute to shaping the virtual and physical public spaces of communities, as well as fostering and shaping culture and heritage, both past and future. How can designers help address issues like inequality or the evolution of participation and representation in the political process and in social life?

Design for

In the midst of the Anthropocene, how can we transform our living environments to respect the capacity of ecosystems and, even more, restore their balance and reveal their potential? Humans are indeed part of nature and, as such, as fragile as our living environment. Beyond responding to emergencies and disasters or immediate conditions, the design disciplines can also offer broader, sustainable approaches to shape the world for the long term. Going beyond short-term, market-driven needs can allow designers to drop conventions, look at their work on a different scale and become agents of change who can generate alternatives to the status quo.

Design for

From creating useful objects to planning green spaces in urban contexts, design disciplines share a concern for sensible and wise design, in a world in search of meaning and prosperity. The beauty of designed objects, buildings, interiors, cities and landscape isn’t superfluous: it is essential. However, the decision of making them beautiful or not is often political. Furthermore, these perspectives on sustaining wellbeing and making life more than just bearable oscillate between universal design that reaches across the globe to inspiration from local realities that can provide more adapted ways to improve quality of life.

Design for

The role of design within modern economic systems can take many shapes and generate often unexpected results – with outcomes that can be significantly better or worse than originally planned. What is the value of design, within the production of goods and the development of society as a whole? While design can be used for commodity, it can also be used for the common good, with the latter implying a more political design voice, driven by values and ideals, rather than a solely monetary purpose.

Design for

Climatic shifts, seasonal changes, day and night cycles, high tides, low tides and human tides all impose transformative criteria and context to the design of goods, experiences and processes, both for more permanent projects and for more fleeting moments. The evolving nature of the relationship between cities, their surrounding hinterland and global networks of all kinds also create a need for adapting and rethinking territories and exchanges. New insights, new approaches, new tools and new materials facilitate the increased need to design, redesign or rethink – and therefore make design a source of transformation.

Design for

Recent migratory movements are challenging political and design strategies to forecast gradual human migrations between countries and even within one country, through political upheavals and/or as a result of climate change. As rising sea levels change the shape of continents, as new spaces become more accessible and others unliveable, the capacity to adjust to such dramatic shifts will become even more essential. Canada, reaching all the way to the Arctic, will be at the heart of those changes. How can design solutions support these sociological, economic or political migrations?

Summit components


Scholars, practitioners and stakeholders will gather at a fully accredited conference to address hundreds of topics on six themes spanning multiple design disciplines. All sessions are designed to intersect, encouraging the sharing of knowledge between disciplines. Leading minds from around the globe will come together to discuss, explore, share and create a vision of the future shaped by design.


Fifty international organizations will develop a joint declaration of intent and an implementation framework for the use of design as an economic driver and as a mechanism to exert positive political, social and environmental change. The Summit portion will be co-chaired by David Heurtel, Québec’s Minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change, and Glen R. Murray, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.


More than 30 sites throughout the City of Montréal will feature public exhibitions, interactive events, workshops, tours and a special children’s program. The Festival will celebrate design while fostering dialogue between the design professions and the general public. Citizens will gain insight into what designers of all stripes do, and discover how design can solve problems and effect positive change in people’s daily lives.


The World Design Summit is an unprecedented opportunity to showcase and promote products and services and interact with the international design community. The event will attract design professionals, public and private decision-makers, the media, and the public at large. Participation is open to organizations that represent, promote or sell a design-related product or service. All applications will be reviewed for compatibility, quality and appropriateness.

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