Although the great design has long been connected with several major cities—London, Paris, New York, Milan, and Copenhagen, for example—the world is ever-changing. Despite these urban hubs surely have loads of design prowess and show no signs of decrease down, a new guardian has risen. On this list are destinations that have been making names for themselves inside the modern design field through up-and-coming artistic industries. Some have design roots that go back millenary, whereas others are just developing their aesthetic character.
Whether you’re a designer seeking motivation for your individual work or just an enthusiastic fan of design, these are the cities that unquestionably must be on your travel bucket list.
It never takes long before people realize that Porto is an extraordinary city. Perhaps they will be standing along the Douro River in Villa Nova de Gaia – the neighbourhood built and sustained by fortified port wine — captivated by the way Portugal’s second largest city looks like a pop-up town, with medieval relics, soaring bell towers, extravagant baroque churches and stately beaux-arts buildings piled on top of one another, illuminated by streaming shafts of sun.
Seoul, South Korea
In a time when Korean pop culture and products have become global phenomena, Seoul is standing in the spotlight, especially in terms of design. In 2010 it was not only named the World Design Capital but also designated a UNESCO City of Design.
Mexico City, Mexico
With a lively cultural scene encompassing both the visual and performing arts, it’s no surprise that Mexico City thrives in architecture and design as well. Design Week Mexico has been held in the city since 2009, showcasing the works of both new and established designers.
The first picture that comes to your mind when thinking of Bilbao is likely a vision of Frank Gehry’s iconic Guggenheim, but the museum is just one piece of the city’s design puzzle. Global architects and designers from Norman Foster to Santiago Calatrava to Philippe Starck have projects here.
Detroit’s design renaissance is a well-established fact, with fresh talent, from independent designers to companies like Shinola flooding the city over the past few years. Since 2012 the city has hosted the annual Detroit Design Festival, and in 2015 it became the first (and only) U.S. city named a UNESCO City of Design.
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The dynamic capital city has recently made waves with its blooming art and design scene, launching its inaugural Nairobi Design Week in November 2015. If you’re in town, visit the GoDown Arts Centre, a warehouse converted into artists’ studios, to discover the latest in Kenyan art.
Thanks to its designation as a Special Economic Zone in 1980, Shenzhen has seen nearly four decades of uninhibited growth in urban planning and design, transforming from a sleepy fishing village into one of the wealthiest cities in China. Its major industry is manufacturing, but you’ll find other branches of design blossoming, like fashion and architecture.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Known as the Paris of South America, Buenos Aires has been influenced by the French capital for centuries—and that applies to its design heritage, too—though it has developed a style all its own. Head to the famous Recoleta neighborhood for high-end shopping, but try San Telmo or Palermo for independent boutiques.
Turin, too, has been undergoing a creative revitalization—and, just like Detroit, it has its roots in automobiles. But today the city promotes a diverse range of creative industries through the Creative Network Steering Committee, which has a special focus on fostering the potential of the youth population.
With roots in textile design and shipbuilding, Dundee has developed a contemporary scene that excels in the fields of digital design, art, and jewelry. It will soon be home to a branch of London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, which is scheduled to open in 2018.
Tel Aviv, Israel
Where to begin with this incredibly diverse city? Tel Aviv’s aesthetic oeuvre ranges from the Bauhaus buildings of the White City to the myriad art galleries showing contemporary works by local artists to the wide selection of fashion boutiques.
If you want to stimulate your senses, look no further than Jaipur. With centuries of history as a major mercantile center, the city is still buzzing today. Be inspired by ornate palaces, the salmon-colored buildings, or even by the peacocks that roam the streets. As for design goods, you’ll find everything from jewelry to textiles.
When Curitiba experienced extraordinary population growth in the mid-20th century, its leaders turned to radical urban design to solve the problems that came with it. They were incredibly successful—Curitiba is a prime example of sustainable urban planning, with more than 500 square feet of green space per resident. Today it is one of Brazil’s leading cultural cities with a thriving design scene.
Copenhagen might be the capital of Scandinavian design, but Helsinki is giving it a run for its money. Design lovers will want to visit the neighborhood of Punavuori, designated as Helsinki’s Design District. Here you’ll find everything from furniture shops to fashion boutiques.
There must be magic in the automotive industry, because like Detroit and Turin, Zagreb has a background in cars and a major contemporary design industry. You can learn about its car history at the Ferdinand Budicki Automobile Museum, but for design immersion, visit the neighborhood of Martićeva, filled with studios, stores, and more.