Montréal is the second largest city in Canada. Montréal became the first city in North America to create a design commissioner position. In June 2006, Montréal became a member of UNESCO Creative Cities Network and was named UNESCO City of Design. In granting Montréal with this title, UNESCO has acknowledged the city’s creative potential in the design disciplines, based on the strong concentration of talent here as well as the commitment and determination of Montréal, and other levels of government and civil society to build on those strengths for the purpose of enhancing Montrealers’ quality of life.
Strategies were developed through the years to highlight Montréal’s designation as a UNESCO City of Design, such as ensuring better recognition for designers, raising awareness of the talents of Montréal designers and architects, and developing their markets.
Initiated and developed by the Ville de Montréal (City of Montréal) over a period of 10 years (1995–2004) with support from the professional design milieu and several public- and private-sector partners, the Commerce Design Montréal contest was aimed at making Montréal merchants aware of the benefits of investing in the design quality of their premises with the help of qualified professionals. Since 2003, at the request of other cities, Montréal has been exporting the concept.
Since 2005, Montréal has been the site of the head office of the International Design Alliance (IDA), a worldwide organization dedicated to bringing together the various stakeholders active in the field of design internationally. The IDA consists of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design (ICSID), the International Council of Graphic Design Associations (ICOGRADA) and the International Federation of Interior Design (IFI).
Montréal becoming a part of UNESCO Creative Cities Network is no surprise. Montréal is a city of designers. 66% of Québec’s designers live in Montréal. That means over 25.000 professionals are working in Montréal and are responsible for 34% of the overall economic impact of the cultural sector ($750 million in economic benefits).
Montréal is home to a host of renowned educational institutions, including some 20 college-level teaching institutions, two French-language and two English-language universities, and more than 50 research chairs, including the UNESCO Chair in Landscape and Environmental Design at Université de Montréal, and four others with a design focus. The city also boasts a significant number of venues for the presentation of design along with well-known organizations that highlight the creations of designers and architects from there and elsewhere. These include the Design Centre of Université du Québec à Montréal, the Canadian Centre for Architecture, the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, as well as the Maison de l’architecture du Québec.