San Diego-Tijuana World Design Capital 2024: What it is and how to get involved

Together, SD and Tijuana, Mexico, will be the first ever binational World Design Capital.

SD San Diego Skyline

The joint WDC 2024 bid with Tijuana makes San Diego the first ever WDC in the US.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

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Two years ago, the World Design Organization (WDO) announced the San Diego-Tijuana region had been selected as the World Design Capital (WDC) for 2024 — the program’s first ever binational designation.

With 2024 around the corner, let’s break down what the designation means, how the local celebration is shaping up, and how you can get involved.

What is a World Design Capital?

The WDO is an international, non-governmental organization that aims to advance the discipline of industrial design and its ability to create a better society. Every two years since 2008, the organization has granted the WDC designation to “recognize a city’s innovative use of design to strengthen economic, social, cultural, and environmental development.”

The winning WDC is highlighted through a year-long program featuring design-related events focused on civic engagement and meant to boost local business and tourism.

Previous WDCs have included: Torino, Italy; Seoul, South Korea; Mexico City, Mexico; Lille Metropole, France; and Valencia, Spain. San Diego is the first US city to receive the distinction.

SD San Diego Mexico US border crossing

The US-Mexico border crossing in San Ysidro is the busiest Port of Entry and land border crossing in the world.

Photo via Canva + Jeremy Poland

The Chosen One: San Diego-Tijuana

San Diego-Tijuana’s joint bid to become WDC 2024 — aka “Home 2024” — began several years ago, driven by designers and civic leaders across the US and Mexico. It was the first joint submission in WDC history, but it made a lot of sense: San Diego and Tijuana have been Sister Cities since 1993, sharing a close relationship as a binational region that thrives better together.

Tijuana Mayor Montserrat Caballero said being the WDC is “an opportunity for us to highlight the interconnectedness of our region and tell the story of the seven million people who live, work, and partner together in exceptional ways.”

SD San Diego-Tijuana WDC 2024 Tijuana, Mexico

Tijuana, Mexico, has been San Diego’s Sister City since 1993.

WDC 2024 programming

Special events, conferences, summits, and art installations will take place across the San Diego-Tijuana region next year focused on art, culture, sustainability, health, science, and regional planning.

This includes:

  • WDC 2024 Design Festival | April 2024 | A public festival that highlights how design impacts every aspect of our communities.
  • Design Experience | September 2024 | An interactive showcase of design from around the world.
  • ENVZN: Urban Art Takeover | September 2024 | A WDC 2024-sanctioned visual and performing arts festival in Logan Heights highlighting cross-border arts and culture; we went to the inaugural 2023 event and it was truly special.
  • Design Policy Conference | November 2024 | A conference that aims to connect people globally to share ideas and find new strategies for the use of design.

The San Diego-Tijuana WDC 2024 program will be built on four values: Community, connections, collaboration, and celebration. Ultimately, the program’s mission is to “design a better future” for the communities where locals live, work, and play — while keeping justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion at the core.
Back in June, the San Diego City Council approved securing $3 million in funding for the planning and production of the program.

Get involved

As the WDC 2024 events schedule takes shape, the City of San Diego is seeking programming ideas from the public.

The applications portal is open through 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, accepting submissions for initiatives, programs, projects, or activations to be considered for the official WDC 2024 Programs Calendar.