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United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network since 2017


ENGLISH May 2018 / edition № 1

UNESCO creative region

Colophon ‘Discover KORTRIJK UNESCO Creative region’ is an initiative of Designregio Kortrijk supported by its partners. Author & translation Sproke Photography & illustrations Heren Loebas & Beeldcollectief - Lucas Despriet aerial photography Henderyckx Graphic design Heren Loebas Printing die Keure, Bruges Binding die Keure Binding, Bruges © Designregio Kortrijk, 2018

/ th r e e /

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network welcomes Kortrijk In 2004, UNESCO launched the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). Nowadays, UCCN has grown into an international partnership of 180 cities such as Cape Town, Dubai, Shanghai, Helsinki, Sydney and Mexico City. 180 cities that vary widely in size, history, look and feel. They all have one thing in common, however: They use creativity as leverage for the sustainable development of their city and region. Kortrijk has recently been admitted as a UNESCO Creative City in the field of design. This puts Kortrijk in excellent company with cities such as Beijing, Buenos Aires and Berlin. Cities that the Kortrijk region can learn valuable lessons from. And that is exactly what UCCN is about: sharing good practices, offering international career opportunities to creative people, … But it is not just a matter of ‘taking’, Kortrijk also has a lot to offer to the network. Design and the creative manufacturing industry have vouched for a dynamic city and region, a dynamic that we have every right to be proud of. In order to keep this dynamic going, Designregio Kortrijk was founded in 2005. This platform combines and strengthens initiatives on creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. Designregio Kortrijk supports designers and makers, small and large companies, students, teachers, public organizations and residents alike. Because there is one obvious conclusion: The creative (manufacturing) industry and design thinking* have been able to penetrate all layers and sectors in South West Flanders. It all started in the Middle Ages, with the flax industry that gained a worldwide reputation for excellence. In spite of numerous setbacks, or perhaps because of them, the textile industry in the Lys region survived and managed to transform itself into a creative manufacturing industry in a whole variety of sectors such as new materials and communication technology. ‘Making’ has also become part of the DNA of education. Initiatives such as ‘Week van het Ontwerpen’ show time and again how young people manage to translate their dreams into often stunning designs. And finally, that stunning design is also to be found in public space. Ingenious urban development and transformation projects provide the residents and visitors of the Kortrijk region with breathing space, both literally and figuratively. Plenty of reason to push aside the typical modesty of South West Flanders and to share the results of the region’s bubbling creativity with the whole world.

*Design thinking uses the tools and methods of designers to solve problems in a creative and innovative way.



20 10





5 9 7

UNESCO Creative Cities Network Ever since the Middle Ages, the Kortrijk region has been known for its craftsmanship,

the power of entrepreneurship, innovation and design thinking.

entrepreneurial spirit and bold design. In those days it was the flax industry that conquered

With its recognition in 2017 as a member

the world, nowadays the region boasts a whole

of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in

new league of world players with its thriving

the field of design, the Kortrijk region will be

creative manufacturing industry in textiles and

able to expand its worldwide network with

new materials, mechatronics and mechanical

no fewer than 30 fellow design cities, ranging

engineering, communication technology et

from Beijing to Berlin and from Buenos Aires

cetera. These players too, keep combining

to Istanbul.

25 30




17 3 6



2 31 11

26 28

23 18


29 1



United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

Member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network since 2017

1. Bandung, Indonesia

9. Curitiba, Brasil

17. Kaunas, Lithuania

25. Saint-Étienne, France

2. Beijing, China

10. Detroit, USA

18. Kobe, Japan

26. Seoul, South Korea

3. Berlin, Germany

11. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

19. Kolding, Denmark

27. Shenzhen, China

4. Bilbao, Spain

12. Dundee, Scotland

20. Kortrijk, Belgium

28. Shanghai, China

5. Brasilia, Brasil

13. Greater Geelong, Australia

21. Mexico City, Mexico

29. Singapore, Singapore

6. Budapest, Hungary

14. Graz, Austria

22. Montréal, Canada

30. Torino, Italy

7. Buenos Aires, Argentina

15. Helsinki, Finland

23. Nagoya, Japan

31. Wuhan, China

8. Cape Town, South Africa

16. Istanbul, Turkey

24. Puebla, Mexico

/ s ix /

Amazing statistics Kortrijk has 76,000 inhabitants, South West Flanders almost 300,000 inhabitants. Though small in size when compared with world cities, the region is significantly big when it comes to creative capital. Every day again, the region’s dynamics are stimulated by people who dare to color outside the lines, in entrepreneurship as well as in education, arts and in public space.



Kuurne Harelbeke





Kortrijk Zwevegem




/ e igh t /

Design thinking as a guiding principle From the world-renowned flax linen in the Middle Ages and the breathtaking craftsmanship of De Coene at Expo 58 to the international technology leaders in new materials, visualization and mechanical engineering in the 21st century: The Kortrijk region has always been able to overcome setbacks and crises by entrepreneurship and creativity. ‘Design thinking’ as such did not yet exist centuries ago, but the principles of problem-solving and creative thinking were already widely applied and still are today. It is by using these basic principles of design thinking that the region has been able to reinvent itself time and again and to put itself on the international map.

/ n in e /

Design in the past The first time the Kortrijk region was

However, economic success spluttered to

able to put itself on the international map

a halt with the industrial revolution: The region

economically was in the Middle Ages, when

continued to value traditional craftsmanship

the Kortrijk textile industry took off. In the

and did not take up on mechanization until

15th century the cultivation of flax expanded

at a late stage. In the meantime, Kortrijk flax

along the Lys and with it the linen industry. The

itself remained in demand both at home and

damask weaving technique, with its subtle

abroad: Flax that retted in the Lys proved to be

patterns and ingenious figures, made Kortrijk

of an exceptional quality, resulting in extra clear

a world leader in textiles from the 16th century

linen. At the end of the 19th and the beginning

onwards. Throughout religious turmoil, wars

of the 20th century, the textile industry caught

and other crises, the linen industry remained

up again and by 1910, the industry accounted

the leading industry in South West Flanders

for more than half of the regional employment.

until well into the 18th century.

/ te n /

Kortrijkse Kunstwerkstede Gebroeders De Coene In the 20th century, the textile industry not only provided for ample employment, but above all for creative and innovative entrepreneurship. This is beautifully illustrated by the story of the company De Coene. The De Coene enterprise took off in 1887 when, upon the death of father Adolphe De Coene, his widow and her son Joseph, who was only 13 years old at the time, continued Adolphe’s business of wallpaper upholsterers. In 1895 Joseph’s brother Adolphe and his brotherin-law Arthur Deleu joined in. They were inspired by Henry Van de Velde and the Arts & Crafts movement and started specializing in interior decoration, producing carpets, fabrics, stainedglass windows, lighting et cetera. It turned out to be the right decision. The company started growing exponentially and gained international recognition and prizes. After World War I, in which their own industrial buildings were bombed, the De Coene brothers devoted themselves to rebuilding Belgium. They moved up a gear and started producing furniture for emergency housing. In 1921 Joseph De Coene made a business trip to America and was introduced to the technique of glued wood. Upon his return, the company became the first producer of plywood in Belgium. But their yearning for originality and beauty remained. During the interbellum De Coene Frères was renamed the Kortrijkse Kunstwerkstede De Coene Brothers. With their renewed company they fully committed themselves to the production of art

deco furniture, successfully combining arts, crafts and industry. Orders started pouring in, both at home and from abroad. But World War II almost put an end to the flourishing company. It wasn’t until the fifties that the Kunstwerkstede recovered, evolving from art deco to a highly refined classical style. In 1954, the company was granted the exclusive Benelux license right for the manufacturing and sales of Knoll furniture. Two years later, the company put up its own engineering and design team. This new generation of engineers, architects, designers, decorators and production managers, turned De Coene once more into a world player. The world was given a taste of their daring innovations at Expo 58 in Brussels. De Coene also furnished the conference rooms of the UNESCO building in Paris, the Parisian residence of the Japanese ambassador and the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris. The company expanded considerably in the sixties and seventies but was eventually dissolved in 1976 due to poor strategic decisions. However, the company left quite an impressive legacy: In order to realize their exceptional achievements, De Coene always collaborated with regional manufacturing companies, thus showing them what an asset design can be, and what the combination of industry, craftsmanship, arts and creativity can bring about.

/ e le ve n /

Design nowadays Today, the Kortrijk region consists of

manufacturing processes. They are doing

a dynamic network of SMEs and large

particularly well in terms of innovation and often

manufacturing companies. Of the top 100

avail of an in-house R&D or designers’ team.

Belgian manufacturing companies, no fewer than 29 are located in the Kortrijk region.

Thanks to their excellent quality and unique

Important sectors are textiles and plastics,

expertise, the companies in the Kortrijk region

but the region is also known for its mechanical

have gained an excellent reputation with their


customers as well as with the industry itself,





communication and visualization technology.

both on a regional and an international level. The Henry van de Velde label, Red Dot Award

From the smallest SME to the largest

or the Architizer A+Awards: You will find

multinational, all companies have somehow

international labels and statuettes proudly

introduced and implemented design and

showcased in quite a few number of offices

design thinking within their business and

and workshops in the region.

/ twe lve /

Designregio Kortrijk Almost simultaneously with the launch of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, a regional network of advocates of design and creativity was launched in Kortrijk: ‘Designregio Kortrijk’. Convinced of the positive impact of design thinking on everyday life, Designregio Kortrijk put into place a strategy to use design thinking as leverage for urban and regional development. Today, Designregio Kortrijk has grown into a platform for creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. Designregio Kortrijk inspires, provokes and motivates people. Above all, Designregio Kortrijk stimulates people to join forces: people from the public sector, entrepreneurs, academics and citizens alike. The ultimate aim is to achieve sustainable entrepreneurship, excellent education, exceptional design and an inspiring living and working environment.

/ th irt e en / The five founding members of Designregio Kortrijk are:


The City of Kortrijk Kortrijk is more often than not a frontrunner when it comes to turning challenges into creative solutions. From spectacular, such as the widening of the Lys with the construction of no fewer than seven new bridges, to less spectacular but equally innovative, such as the introduction of circular lighting in the library, a Belgian first.


Biennale Interieur

In 1967, Biennale Interieur was launched, with the prospect of introducing the public to contemporary interior design in a radically different way. 50 years later, Biennale Interieur has grown into a top trade fair in the international design world. True to its mission, Biennale Interieur still offers unique opportunities to emerging talent and manages to surprise and engage the general public, time and again.



West Flanders University of Applied Sciences (Howest) translates its mission of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship into top research and unique curricula, such as industrial product development and digital arts & entertainment. In 2017, Howest was ranked as the n°1 school for game design and development in the world.



Leiedal is the intermunicipal cooperation for regional development in South West Flanders. The thirteen municipalities join forces to develop the region in a dynamic and sustainable way, turning it into an inviting and vibrating working and living environment.



Voka – Chamber of Commerce West Flanders represents more than 3,400 companies and aims at becoming the region with the highest degree of entrepreneurship in Western Europe by 2025. Voka helps companies to become future-proof by stimulating innovation, product development and design management.

‘The greatest added value is perhaps to be found in the networking of the networks.’

/ f ift e e n /

A network of design and creativity In addition to the founding members of Designregio Kortrijk, the region can also count on an impressive network of creators, artists, cultural organizations, companies, educational institutions, government agencies and committed citizens. A network, branched out and connected by creativity, curiosity, openmindedness and an unwavering belief in the future. Creators Creative people, designers, product







particularly the


region. They meet formally through networks such as the designer club and Budalab, but even more ‘effective’ are the many informal creative hangouts such as Muster, De Dingen or Bolwerk.

/ s ix te e n /

Education Every day, children and young people provide the region with inspiration and inventiveness. While they learn in the region, the region learns from them. The educational institutes are quite happy to ‘lend’ their students to the outside world through internships, theses or student projects. They also collaborate to introduce entrepreneurship into schooling, as is illustrated by the Student Platform Entrepreneurship Kortrijk (SPEK).

Public The Public sector consults and cooperates via RESOC South West Flanders (the Regional Economic and Social Consultation Committee), the intermunicipal cooperation Leiedal or thematic work groups. The region can also rely on a booming multitude of bottom-up community initiatives. De Stuyverij, Wildebras,... all show that residents and creators have a way of finding each other and working together in order to create a better city and region.

Entrepreneurs Entrepreneurs find each other per sector, via organizations such as Agoria, essenscia and Fedustria for the manufacturing industry or Flanders DC for the creative industry. Or across sectors, via for instance Voka, UNIZO and ETION. Start-ups are matched with each other through initiatives such as the West Flemish Start & Go, or they are matched with experienced entrepreneurs and investors through networks and projects such as Hangar K, the Business Angels Network or Protopitch.

/ s e ve n te en /

The greatest added value is perhaps to be found in the networking of the networks. The region excels at bringing together people and organizations that at first sight have very little to do with one another. At second sight, however, they can make a big difference for one another. Students and experienced entrepreneurs, artists and manufacturing companies, residents and designers, civil servants and architects et cetera: Crossovers in every possible way are stimulated and cherished.

Buda Libre Buda Libre is one such example of a crossover. It is a lively, informal network of





residents that is propelled by bimonthly, unique matchmaking events.

KortrijkIN A club of innovation leaders and innovators in all sectors. Makers and innovators get the opportunity to pitch their original and always interesting stories to the KortrijkIN network.

Annual Creative Summit Once a year, Designregio Kortrijk assembles stakeholders from all sectors and backgrounds for a creative summit. The result is a dynamic mix of participants who detect and explore opportunities for new design initiatives.

/ e igh t e en /

Giving creativity the space it needs Creativity needs space, not just mental space, but physical space as well. In recent years, Kortrijk and the region have invested in giving creativity all the space it needs. The result is again a network, sturdy and flexible at the same time, with a multitude of small and large nodes: Small workshops, academic research laboratories and industrial testing facilities are combined with challenging black boxes or maker spaces fully equipped with state-of-the-art instruments and materials.

/ n in e t e en /

Universities and knowledge centers such as Centexbel and Sirris invite companies to

and interdisciplinary collaboration and match die-hard entrepreneurs with young blood.

work together in their laboratories and testing facilities where tomorrow’s technology is being

The added value is not only to be found

created. Residents with awesome ideas and

in the sheer multitude and diversity of

equally awesome skills can indulge themselves

facilities for creators, but also and above

at FabLabs, equipped with soldering stations,

all in the underlying partnership. This triple

3D printers and the like. Students are given

helix partnership of educational institutions,

the opportunity to start projects with other

enterprises and local government, makes joint

students, entrepreneurs and researchers at

investments, thus ensuring that the creative

the Industrial Design Center of Howest and

entrepreneur always has a place to create. A

UGent or at the Maaklab of VIVES. Kulak

place in line with his or her current wishes and

and imec engage with companies in their

needs. And a place that already triggers the

EdTech lab. And then there are the numerous

creative entrepreneur to take on the next step

entrepreneurial and business centers of

and make full use of all opportunities offered

private players as well as the municipalities

by the network.

and the province, which stimulate co-creation

/ twe n t y /

Over the past five years, the city and the region have moved up a gear in creating space for experiment and craftsmanship. A few telling examples of amazing makerspaces in the Kortrijk region:

Budafabriek Budafabriek is embedded in a former textile factory on the Buda Island, the creative heart of the city of Kortrijk. The 3,000 m² industrial site was transformed into the first ever economic and artistic workshop in Flanders. Entrepreneurs, students, artists, designers, academics and residents make use of the Budafabriek to collaborate on enticing new projects. The often surprising results are demonstrated to the broader public by means of remarkable exhibitions and intriguing demonstrations.

TEXTURE This new museum on flax and textiles is very appropriately accommodated in a former flax warehouse in Kortrijk. At the beginning of the 20th century the site was the hub of international flax trade in the region. Today it is once again a hub, where flax and the rich regional history of the textile industry are now put to use as inspiration for innovative products and materials.

/ twe n t y -one /

Bolwerk Categorizing, let alone defining, ‘Bolwerk’ is a mission impossible. This creative community places itself at the crossroads of youth, entrepreneurship and arts. Key words are exploration, creation and wonderment. A.A.P. (Atypical Atelier Publiek) is Bolwerk’s central workshop in which installations, productions and events are conceived and tried out, before releasing them on the unsuspecting city and region.

Hangar K A spectacular ‘new arrival’ in the network of creative space, is Hangar K on campus Kortrijk Weide. A former warehouse of the Belgian Railways has been transformed into a co-creation hub for start-ups, scale-ups and mature companies. The hub focuses on smart factories, MedTech, EdTech and entertainment/visualization technology.

/ twe n t y -two /

The city and region as a playground In addition to the spaces that were

As a result, the city and region are

created specifically to support creativity and

transformed step by step, sometimes by

craftsmanship, ‘ordinary’ buildings and sites in

downright spectacular projects, at other times

the city and region are also opened up for the

by less obvious interventions, but always in view

creative (manufacturing) industry. For example,

of well-thought-out and steady improvement.

Designregio Kortrijk allows young designers

This is beautifully illustrated by the project

to present their ideas and innovations in the

‘Lelijke plekjes’ (i.e. ugly places), in which ten

Kiosk on the Grote Markt, thus confronting

municipalities set out to give abandoned and

casual passers-by with the latest design trends.

disused public space a second life, joining forces

Initiatives such as Kortrijk Zaait make vacant

with the residents, design students and young

workshops and warehouses available to young

design agencies. 25 sites, such as a bicycle

designers and small manufacturing companies.

commuter tunnel in Waregem, a pumping station

And in projects such as the Creative City Tour,

in Avelgem, the village square of Heestert and a

designers give shop windows of local retailers a

grotto in Wevelgem, were thus given a refreshing

complete makeover.

makeover, freeing them from the label ‘ugly’.

And then of course, there is the public

Even more radical was the widening of the

space as such. Districts, streets and squares,

Lys. In order to make the Lys accessible for

the river banks, bridges and parks: The cities

vessels up to 4,400 tons, a series of impressive

and municipalities in South West Flanders are

infrastructure works was started at the end

bursting with opportunities to showcase the

of the 1990s. Kortrijk seized this opportunity

power of design and the creative manufacturing

to turn the river into a stimulating part of

industry. Fortunately, the municipal authorities

modern urban life and to provide the people

fully embrace these opportunities and invite

with ample opportunity to enjoy the river and



the surrounding scenery in the midst of the

architects and manufacturing companies to

busy city center. Seven new bridges have been

create new breathing and living space for their

installed, each and every one a showcase

residents. And it is even more fortunate that the

of ingenious architecture. Young people can

residents are also willing to seize the opportunity

now enjoy themselves at the largest outdoor

and think and create along with the local

skate bowl of the Benelux. All along the river

government. Participation may be a buzzword,

banks, cozy hangouts are to be found, and an

but in the Kortrijk region it has become part of

exquisitely designed boulevard for cyclers and

everyday life.

pedestrians allows residents and visitors alike




to explore or rediscover the region, surrounded by the inspiring river Lys.

/ twe n t y -f ou r /

Education In Kortrijk alone, there are more than twenty-five secondary schools, fifteen campuses for lifelong learning, an academy of fine arts and an urban conservatory of dance and music, two universities of applied sciences and two campuses of Ghent University and the Catholic University of Louvain. Add to that the formal educational institutes in the other twelve cities and municipalities of South West Flanders, as well as the many private schools, and you end up with a grand total of thousands of young people and students who are immersed in knowledge and 21st century skills such as creativity and design thinking.

/ twe n t y -fiv e /

Completely in line with the DNA of the

education for example, can opt for courses on

region, all educational and training programs

textile and design, interior design, industrial

focus in one way or another on creative

arts and graphic design. The universities of



applied sciences Howest and VIVES offer

SPEK, for example, the Student Platform

unique professional bachelor programs that



focus on industrial product design, digital


design & development, cultural management

entrepreneurial mindset amongst students in

or apps & gamification. At the Kortrijk

higher education. Activities range from boot

campuses of the universities of Ghent and

camps and inspiring lectures to coaching and

Louvain, students can take a master’s degree

hackathons. Primary and secondary schools

or follow postgraduate programs covering

also engage themselves in ‘real life’. By means

industrial design, eco-design, new materials

of mini-enterprises, for instance, that put

and integrated product development.


and Kortrijk,



combines stimulate

highly original products in the local market. Or via innovation camps, during which students

This results in often stunning student

from secondary and higher education are

projects, that are showcased to the general

triggered to come up with creative solutions

public during the annual event ‘Week van het

for industrial challenges.

Ontwerpen’. More than 4,000 people thus get a taste of the creativity of the students

And, of course, there is a whole range of

and designers in general. They also get to

courses that focus explicitly on design and

participate themselves in inspiring and often

craftsmanship. Students in secondary or adult

confrontational workshops and lectures.

/ twe n t y -six /

Education in and out of the classroom Education in the Kortrijk region regularly goes beyond school walls, with groundbreaking projects such as MyMachine or Budalab on Tour.

MyMachine MyMachine is a remarkable and unique program, in which dreaming away in the classroom is not only allowed but even mandatory. Primary school children are invited to imagine machines that make their dreams come true: a device that puts an end to quarreling for instance, or a glove that turns you into a superhero. Higher education students translate these ‘impossible’ assignments into a concept and secondary school pupils in their turn transform these concepts into working prototypes. Within this stimulating learning environment, children and young people discover their talents and passions, are allowed to experiment, make mistakes and learn from them, and set up their own business.

Budalab on Tour Budalab on Tour is not about the students, or at least not in the first place. This initiative is based on the train-the-trainer principle and introduces primary and secondary school teachers to design thinking, co-creation and new techniques such as laser cutting or 3D printing. After following an intensive training program at the Budalab, they can borrow machinery, toolboxes and materials to use in their classroom, thus encouraging students’ enthusiasm for STEM in a very tangible way.

/ twe n t y -s ev en /

Creativity as an extra-curricular activity Not only during but also after school hours,

such as Passerelle, Antigone or Unie der

young people in the Kortrijk region have plenty

Zorgelozen teach you how to unleash your

of opportunities to put their creativity and

creativity and how to rein it back in, in order

design thinking to the test.

to create a fantastic performance. In the Techniekacademies,





With Quindo, for example, the media lab

everything revolves around STEM and you

where adventurous youth radio is made in

learn how to produce truly stunning technical

a state-of-the-art studio and supported by


a professional editorial team. Young people aged between 16 and 30 learn to experiment

Plenty to choose from, obviously, ánd for

with all forms of media and new technologies.

all ages too. Spinrag, for instance, ‘Flanders’

They make web radio themselves, as a DJ,


host, technician, producer, graphic artist,

toddlers and primary school children to arts

editor, photographer, cameraman or web

and creativity. Those aged over 18 who have

designer. Quindo welcomes all young people,

fallen in love with arts or design, are invited to

regardless of their experience, background

become an ‘artist’ or ‘designer in residence’ at

or ambition, and offers them a tailor-made

Kunstencentrum BUDA or Designregio Kortrijk.





training and coaching program. The Kortrijk region thus welcomes children Apart from learning how to make radio,

and young people time and again and provides

you can also learn how to create a dance or

them with a stimulating, warm environment to

theater performance. In addition to part-time

experiment, to learn by trial and error, and to

arts education, organizations and societies

fully enjoy themselves while learning.

/ th irt y /

Research & development Innovation simply cannot come about without research and experiment. The creative manufacturing industry in the region has been fully aware of this critical success factor. They have invested in R&D and assembled teams of in-house designers. Technologies such as a new generation of crash barriers that reduce injuries or projection technology that quite literally immerses the viewer in a movie, or ingenious lighting that combines quality, sustainability and aesthetics? Yes, they were all developed in the Kortrijk region. In case individual companies are still in need of extra knowledge or expertise, they can always call on the academic research groups in Kortrijk or the industrial expertise centers. All in all, these groups and centers combine a highly respectable number of ‘brains’ that account for ever new ideas, products and concepts, resolutely pushing the city and region towards the future.

/ th irt y -two /

Research infrastructure Researchers also need plenty of space: to

An ‘anthology’:

set up experiments, to perform analyses and

/ Renewable materials and nanotechnology

tests on a lab scale and a semi-industrial scale,

research (KU Leuven Campus Kulak Kortrijk)

to demonstrate the results of their research et cetera. This requires serious efforts and

/ XiaK, Center of Expertise on industrial

investments. In recent years, government,

automation (UGent Campus Kortrijk)

educational institutes and companies have joined forces and invested together in facilities

/ Industrial Design Center, product

for research, testing and demonstration in the

development and Design With Flexible

Kortrijk region.

Materials (Howest / UGent Campus Kortrijk)

The result is a collection of top-notch R&D

/ The Level / Digital Arts & Entertainment,

infrastructure, with a focus on the socio-

sector innovation through game technology

economic strengths of the city and region.


Open innovation, collaboration and knowledge sharing are paramount.

/ Maaklab, new technologies for the manufacturing industry (VIVES) / Centexbel, knowledge and innovation center for the textile industry / Sirris, demonstration center for Factories of the Future and Industry 4.0

/ th irt y -f ou r /

Supporting professional growth The Kortrijk region supports its designers and the creative manufacturing industry by means of a varied set of measures, ranging from providing creative workplaces and coaching, to giving grants or putting into place public campaigns raising awareness about the positive impact of design and creativity. Here, too, cooperation is paramount. Partners from the government, academics and the business world join forces with the end users. All parties contribute with their own expertise, networks and resources, so as to give design and the creative manufacturing industry a boost.

/ th irt y -f i v e /

Fairs & congresses With the contemporary trade fair complex

Though 50 years later Biennale Interieur has

Kortrijk Xpo, the Kortrijk region has gained

become a classic, the top fair still manages to

itself a strong business partner to promote

reinvent itself constantly, attracting ever more

the creativity, innovation and entrepreneurial


spirit of the city and region. The quite

In addition to Biennale Interieur, new

impressive number of fairs and congresses,

fairs and business events are launched

with a special focus on design and the creative

regularly promoting design and the creative

manufacturing industry, attract visitors from


all over the world.

interior designers for instance, are welcomed




at the international event Architect@Work. Biennale Interieur is, of course, one of the

The Prototyping event, on the other hand, is

top attractions. Biennale Interieur was first

aimed at everyone who is active in the field of

organized in 1968 to showcase the latest

product development. Prototyping focuses on

innovations in creative interior design. The

the design process as a whole, from the first

unique combination of a commercial furniture

step of ideation to the realization of a business

fair with a broad cultural program prominently

model and small series production.

dedicated to emerging talent, proved to be a real success formula.








include for


healthcare sector, and BouwXpo and Matexpo, demonstrating engineering.



la fir rge m s s

m a SM ture ES up eal sc ts

& sta sp rtin up -o s ffs en ud st p se ubli ct c or



SPEK Handmade In Belgium We Are Creators Bryo



SpinWest Small Business Projects Behance Portfolio Review Tripod







Hangar K

CreaLINK Designers in residence

/ th irt y -s ev en /

Coaching and matchmaking In addition to trade fairs and events promoting




coached so as to select the right, high quality


designers for their local development projects,

manufacturing industry, the partnership in

while young architects and designers are

the Kortrijk region also offers a wide range

promoted and learn how to work in the public

of other initiatives to give the sector a boost.

sector. Protopitch, a cross-border project

This involves intensive coaching programs

with Wallonia and northern France, wants

such as SpinWest, where spin-offs and spin-

to boost the creative industry by teaching

outs receive financial, commercial or technical

start-ups how to pitch and introduce them to

and legal support. Other initiatives focus on

a network of potential investors. Pitching is

stimulating collaboration between creators.

also at the core of Behance Portfolio Review,

CreaLINK, for instance, supports start-ups

an international concept that was introduced

from the creative industry in working together

in the Kortrijk region by Designregio Kortrijk

on larger business cases, thus stimulating

and that presents local designers with the

them to learn from each other. WinVorm also

opportunity to pitch for a panel of experts.

focuses on cooperation: Local authorities are

A highly original and successful initiative is 5X5ÂŽ, launched by Designregio Kortrijk. Each year, five regional companies are given the opportunity to collaborate with a pair of designers, a senior and junior designer. During an intensive process, that takes up more than a year, the company and the designers develop and realize a new product or service. 5X5ÂŽ thus not only leads to surprising innovations, but above all helps regional companies to integrate design and design thinking into their business strategy and daily operations. This gives them a clear advantage over their (international) competitors. The methodology of 5X5ÂŽ has proved its added value time and again and will shortly be applied to the public sector as well.

/ th irt y -e ight /

Design & creativity all around the city and region The city and region not only take initiatives to support professional growth of designers and the creative manufacturing industry, they also ‘immerse’ their residents and visitors quite literally in design, innovation and entrepreneurship. When living in or visiting the region, one simply cannot escape the Kortrijk creative vibes. Thus, design regularly ‘pops up’ in the streets, in the Kiosk at the Grote Markt in Kortrijk for example, or via the city festival PLAY, in which the public space is conquered by creative installations and works of art. Design and creativity are also at the core of numerous urban and regional events, breaking down boundaries between disciplines and happily spreading the creativity virus across national boundaries.

/ th irt y -nine /

Creativity: a never-ending party! De Grote Verleieding 2016

Design Fusion

From May to September 2016, Kortrijk

Every two years, during Biennale Interieur,

celebrated the final stage of the widening of

Design Fusion introduces the general public to

the river Lys that was started over 20 years

a simply irresistible mix of artists, designers

ago. The river Lys was symbolically ‘returned’

and visionaries. Through master classes, a

to the citizens and visitors by means of a

conference, networking and other events,

brilliant urban festival, based on the ideas

students, entrepreneurs and the general public

of the citizens themselves. In total, more

alike get to literally experience how design and

than 70 activities were organized in, on and

design thinking can make our lives better every

around the river. Music, theatre, design,


sports, multimedia, film and gastronomy: All disciplines were covered in a much talkedabout program.

/ f o rt y /

Next Festival

Breaking down borders Wild West

Next is a textbook example of a trendsetting, disruptive festival. Started as a small-scale experiment in 2008, today it is one of the trendiest arts festivals in Europe. In 2015 Next was selected by The European Festival Association as one of the twelve most innovative and sustainable festivals in Europe. Six Flemish, Walloon and French arts and culture houses combine their know-how and expertise into one cross-border adventurous program of international performing arts and new media.

The Kortrijk region also boasts a lively music scene, with internationally renowned bands such as Ozark Henry, Goose or Balthazar. In the proximity of the railway station, the city and its partners have invested in a large music campus, combining rehearsal studios, production areas and state-of-the-art concert halls. The urban conservatory, the concert hall De Kreun and music center Track are housed there, as is the ‘Wild West’, a concert and festival organization that connects classical, pop, rock, jazz, contemporary music and soundscapes with everything in between and beyond.

Kortrijk Congé

Lille World Design Capital 2020 In 2020, the Eurometropolis Lille-Kortrijk-Tournai will be the center of the world in terms of design, being designated as ‘World Design Capital 2020’. With an extensive program aptly named ‘Eldorado’, the metropolis and its partners will show the world how design and creativity have an undeniably positive impact on our everyday lives. Kortrijk, UNESCO Creative City of Design, is of course ready to help spread this message. It will be a year of discovery and rediscovery, of wonderment and looking at ordinary things in an extraordinary way.

For ten years, the annual summer festival Kortrijk Congé combined all possible forms of arts, design and entertainment into a unique festival concept literally using the city and its surroundings as a laboratory. All regional stakeholders were involved to create an impressive, highly original program that engaged all citizens. The 2014 edition even served as the basis for a national TV documentary.

Design Fusion




NEXT Arts Festival






Voltage Festival


Gebroed! De Grote Verleieding 2016 PLAY

x x







x x



Alcatraz Hard Rock & Metal Festival

Festival van Vlaanderen Kortrijk










Memento Woordfestival









x x



x x

x x

x x

/ f o rt y -two /

Kortrijk and the UNESCO Creative Cities Network In the past the Kortrijk region already demonstrated the tremendous impact that design, creativity and entrepreneurship can have on urban and regional development. Time and time again, these typical traits of South West Flanders were used to overcome setbacks, to get back up again and take the lead once more. Despite its small scale, the region has a lot to offer, in all aspects of everyday life:

/ f o rt y -tree /

The textile traders of the

Nevertheless, the Kortrijk region somehow

Middle Ages have grown into top companies in

felt embarrassed to put its assets regarding

the creative manufacturing industry. Bekaert,

design and creativity in the (international)

Barco, Van de Wiele, Verilin et cetera are all

spotlight. It wasn’t until summer 2017 that

experts in using design and design thinking in

Kortrijk decided to apply for membership

their sector, from mechanical engineering to

of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

steel wire applications.


Industry /






extensive participation process, involving the seven

stakeholders and inhabitants of the Kortrijk

inhabitants of Kortrijk, there is one student

region. Projects such as Kortrijk Creëert



generated ideas for an even more creative city

universities excel at innovative education and

and region and over 50 partner organizations

research, proudly ‘making’ and ‘delivering’ the

from all backgrounds and sectors supported

entrepreneurs and designers of tomorrow.

the application with a signed letter of intent.

Education higher



For The

every colleges


Designregio Kortrijk and its partners are

continues to invest in bold urban and regional

now willing and eager to share their knowledge

development projects, involving internationally

and skills internationally and to continue to

acclaimed designers and architects, such as

collaborate, using design and creativity as a

Bernardo Secchi & Paola Vigano or Jacques

leverage for urban and regional development.






Arts & design /

Every two years,

Kortrijk is host to Biennale Interieur, an international ‘must visit’ fair on the latest design trends and avant-garde furniture. In between, the city and the region can bend on a lively cultural scene, at the crossroads of arts, design and industry.

/ f o rt y -s ix /

What can we learn from the network? Today, design and the creative manufacturing industry are already an important asset for the Kortrijk region. The membership of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network will in future enhance the opportunities to promote these assets on an international level, providing for local residents with all the more reason to be proud of their city and region. The Kortrijk region also looks forward to exchanging good practices and successful methodologies with the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. International student competitions and internships regarding design or sustainable entrepreneurship, for instance. Or renowned guest lecturers and international master classes. Residencies for artists and designers from abroad, and vice versa. New business opportunities for designers and the creative manufacturing industry within the international network. Thanks to this knowledge exchange, the region will be able to tackle its own challenges in an even faster, more efficient and sustainable way. Do you have ideas or suggestions of your own to stimulate design and creativity? Would you like to participate in the international network of UNESCO Creative Cities of Design? For information and inspiration, please contact Designregio Kortrijk vzw / Broelkaai 6 / 8500 Kortrijk / Belgium Email: / Phone: +32 (0)56 51 91 83

/ f o rt y -s e v en /

United Nations Educational, ScientiďŹ c and Cultural Organization

Member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network since 2017

Profile for Designregio Kortrijk

Discover Kortrijk UNESCO creative region EN  

In 2004, UNESCO launched the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). Nowadays, UCCN has grown into an international partnership of 180 cities...

Discover Kortrijk UNESCO creative region EN  

In 2004, UNESCO launched the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). Nowadays, UCCN has grown into an international partnership of 180 cities...


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