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UNESCO City of Design

UNESCO City of Design

Designing a new future for the city

In 2014, Dundee became the UK’s first UNESCO City of Design and in 2018, the city welcomed V&A Dundee, Scotland’s design museum. This panel showcases some of the important creative milestones which have contributed to Dundee’s continuing design renaissance.

unesco cartoon

1. V&A Dundee

Designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma & Associates, the V&A Dundee building was inspired by the rugged cliffs of the Scottish coastline and it opened on 15 September 2018. It is Kengo Kuma’s first building in the UK, and the design and location are intended to reconnect contemporary Dundee with its historic River Tay waterfront.


2. UNESCO designation

When Dundee was chosen as the UK’s first City of Design in 2014, it was recognised by UNESCO for its diverse and consistent design contributions in a variety of fields – from biomedical research to video games and comics.


3. Maggie’s Centre

Designed by renowned LA architect Frank Gehry, this unusual building opened in 2003 within the grounds of Ninewells Hospital. Its garden was created by leading landscape designer Arabella Lenox-Boyd, with a sculpture by Anthony Gormley called ‘Another Time X’. Frank Gehry’s original sketch (right) and finished building (left) are both stitched here.


4. Postage stamp progress

James Chalmers (1782–1853) was a stationer and bookseller in Dundee when he proposed the idea of an adhesive postage stamp in 1838.


5. NCR and the ATM

Although Britain’s first automated teller machine (ATM) was unveiled in London in 1967, the idea really took off in the 1970s when NCR rolled out its Model 770. Millions of cash dispensing machines were made in NCR’s Dundee factory and shipped around the world until the factory closed in 2009.


6. Castlehill Lampposts

Located in Castle Street, the lampposts were designed by David Findlay Wilson, a graduate of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, and installed in 2004. The title reflects the old name for this part of Dundee.

7. Waterfront Place

Waterfront Place is a prime spot within Dundee’s new 30-year Waterfront Masterplan. It re-establishes the important connection between people and the River Tay, and has been designed to be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. Highlights include the Urban Beach, an active travel hub and cycle hire to promote low carbon transport, and an interactive play area. Development of Waterfront Place created new jobs and an apprenticeship, and surplus materials were donated to community-based enterprises.


8. The McManus

The McManus, Dundee’s award-winning gallery and museum, has a bronze statue of ‘Oor Wullie’ (from the ‘Sunday Post’) outside. The Gallery also previously hosted the ‘McMenace Design Festival’, to pay tribute to the comics industry’s influence on the city.


9. V&A Dundee Tartan

The V&A Dundee Tartan was created by royal kiltmakers, Kinloch Anderson, to celebrate the museum’s 2023 exhibition, ‘Tartan’. The design was inspired by Kengo Kuma’s initial concept pencil sketches, with a dash of shocking pink to reference Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli’s regular visits to Scotland in the late 1940s.


10. ‘Tay Whale’

This public sculpture was designed by Lee Simmons and installed on the Waterfront in 2021, close to the V&A Dundee and the Urban Beach.


11. James Bowman Lindsay

Although most people associate Thomas Edison with the invention of the lightbulb in 1879, local inventor James Bowman Lindsay (1799-1862) had already explored the concept in 1835. Working as Science and Mathematics Lecturer at the Watt Institution in Dundee, James created a prototype electric lightbulb with copper filament – very similar to the ones we use today.


Design around the world

The names of other UNESCO Cities of Design have also been stitched around the edges of this panel.

This panel was stitched by

Val Beveridge

Kay Deas

Margaret Geyer

Catherine Lawson

Natalie McCluskey

Kaye MacGregor

Tricia Paton

Ann Penhale

Alice Simpson

Sue Tindell

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