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. With its recognition in 2017 as a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in the field of design, the Kortrijk region will be able to expand its worldwide network with no fewer than 30 fellow design cities, ranging from Beijing to Berlin and from Buenos Aires to Istanbul. In Europe, 11 cities belong to the design domain. In Belgium, Kortrijk is the first city in this domain.

Due to its border location, Kortrijk has a long-standing tradition of international business. As far back as the Middle Ages the textiles industry yielded one of Flanders’ most important export products, ‘Courtrai flax’. Thanks to flax processing the city gained a reputation of craftsmanship, high quality design and entrepreneurship. However, due to wars, economic crises etcetera, the textiles industry had to reinvent itself. This necessary transformation made the Kortrijk region into what it is today: highly creative and resilient; traits to be found in all aspects of contemporary Kortrijk.

The textile traders of the Middle Ages have been exchanged for leading companies in the creative manufacturing industry, expert at implementing design & design thinking: machine builders (Van de Wiele), specialized textile manufacturers (Verilin), imaging technology (Barco) or steel wire applications (Bekaert).

For every 7 citizens, Kortrijk has 1 student in higher education. The 2 Universities of Applied Sciences, Howest and VIVES, and the campuses of the top 2 Belgian Universities, Ghent and Louvain, are at the forefront of cutting edge developments, creating the very entrepreneurs and innovators of tomorrow.

Urban development
The City and region continuously invest in large scale and daring urban development projects. International designers and architects such as Bernardo Secchi & Paola Vigano, Bob Van Reeth and Jacques Wirtz have been part of this ‘makeover’ of Kortrijk.

Arts & design
Every 2 years Kortrijk hosts the Biennale Interieur, internationally renowned for showcasing the latest design trends and avant-garde furniture. In between the City can boast on a vibrant culture scene, flirting with the boundaries between arts, design, industry and the city.

So, creativity is in the regions DNA. The companies and organizations of Kortrijk are not afraid of experimenting and innovating and working together to achieve this. They are flexible and are known for their problem-solving, creative thinking. Design-thinking as we say, creating added value and facilitating innovation.

We continue to invest in creativity to transform the city and region. An important actor in this is the quadruple helix organization Designregio Kortrijk, which was founded in 2005. This organization links companies, public organizations and students with creatives and designers. The resulting results bring new growth and prosperity.

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.

So, speak to us, let us connect. Let us valorize the power of the network.


Discover KORTRIJK UNESCO creative region magazine:



Do you want to connect your own strong products, services and projects to this global creative network? We invite all our partners and creative talents to use the new logo. This way you immediately make your own creativity visible and show that you are part of the strongly growing, creative ecosystem in our region.


Focal point:
Stijn Debaillie
Coordinator Designregio Kortrijk
+32 56 51 91 83