Kortrijk UNESCO Design Region
Can you feel the Kortrijk region’s catchy vibe? No wonder since creativity and problem-solving are part of the region's DNA. That is precisely why the Kortrijk region became part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network in 2017. This worldwide network consists of 246 cities that focus on creativity to build a more liveable and even more stimulating environment for their citizens. Kortrijk was awarded membership within the domain of design.
The recognition is due to everyone who contributes creatively in the region, and you can also use the UNESCO label to strengthen the communication of your creative event, project, action, enterprise, organisation or school.
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We asked creative people, designers, artists, entrepreneurs and education specialists what makes our region so unique.
"Here we find the perfect mix of creativity and entrepreneurship for our company. The region is also characterised by a typical go-getter mentality. In many areas, the region takes on a pioneering role. Here, the card of innovation is drawn time and again, which is contagious for the creative industry."
"Every time I cycle along the Lys or walk through one of the many parks, I am proud of 'my' region. It stimulates my imagination and creates even more ambition to keep on doing business and thinking innovatively. Thanks to initiatives to give citizens a say, everyone gets involved and enthusiastic. This is how we broaden our future perspectives together."
"During my three-month stay, I clearly sensed that there are many opportunities in the Kortrijk region to turn ideas into successful projects. There is a strong will to support creative and innovative initiatives."
"As game developers, we find the ideal environment here to be creative. With the presence of HangarK, Howest DAE and many innovative companies, starting designers with ambitious plans have all the elements close by."
"The transformation of the region is very interesting for designers. I think that the openness to change will continue thanks to UNESCO recognition. I see similarities with Cebu in the Philippines, where I stayed for my thesis. That region underwent a similar evolution and is now also part of the Creative Cities Network."
Marcos Simões // Choreographer and performer
"I have been coming to Kortrijk for years now and it is really surprising how quickly the city has changed; there is always something new to discover. You feel an openness to new, modern things, but with respect for its own history. Industry and commerce were and still are very much present. I would call the vibe dichotomous: small and large, old and new, quiet and dynamic."
Julie Lietaer // Textile entrepreneur
"Entrepreneurship along the Lys flows and flourishes abundantly. Its roots lie in the flax industry, where my own roots also lie. With our spin-off, we specifically choose the region as a hub for creativity and co-creation. This has already manifested itself in various collaborations, both with other companies and with designers and higher education."
Joos Van Cauwenberghe // School group Rhizo
"Anchoring in this inspiring region is essential for us. The framework for this is fantastic: there are companies with a lot of know-how who are happy to build bridges with our schools, we regularly work together with higher education, there are close contacts with Hangar K,... We are very grateful to bridging figures who help us to open doors, and we are fully committed to the network effect. Strong together."
Anneleen Van Offel // Author and LETTERZETTER Kortrijk
"There is a lot of talent out there that seizes the opportunities that are available. The openness to seek crossovers and the will to cooperate are also invaluable. And without wishing to lapse into clichés: the urge to take the bull by the horns and work hard, I find that a fine characteristic of the people of South West Flanders."
Yinuo Chen // gaming student
"Howest was high on the list of game schools. I am now in my third year and the content of the course is exactly what I expected. It is hard work though. Because make no mistake: playing games is something completely different from making games. But I felt the same passion in the other students. We all really want to make it."
Flore Deman // Illustrator
"It is striking how open creative entrepreneurs from the region are. It is easy to get to know each other here through the grapevine. There is a great openness to cross-fertilisation, which in turn leads to new opportunities. Drawing on the windows of a coffee shop, designing a fabric collection, launching a ceramics line... It is great to get to know other people and processes through all kinds of collaborations."
Jonas Desmet // Singer PINGPONGCLUB and 'Lotto Wild Talent' winner Wilde Westen
"As a winner, we now receive support from Het Wilde Westen, for example to organise rehearsals, to market our single, to find a label, etc. Het Wilde Westen has an excellent reputation in Flanders and can tap into a large network. This close cooperation is an incredible opportunity for us."
Proud Ambassador label
These believers are already convinced of the vibe of the region. Would you also like to show everyone that you are proud of this creative Kortrijk region? Would you like to become a co-ambassador of this innovative design region? Would you like the UNESCO label to reinforce your product, project or action?Would you like to respond in some way to the international network of UNESCO? Or do you have your own ideas or suggestions to make design and creativity even better? We would love to hear from you and are looking forward to getting to know you better!
Anyone who is active in this region in a creative way - from citizen to student, from designer to entrepreneur - can use the label to reinforce their product, project or action.
- You are located in South-West Flanders;
- your approach is creative, innovative, enterprising and thus enhances the image of the region;
- You are open to cooperation and cross-pollination, and you want to get to know new people who are on the same wavelength.
- You receive (international) recognition for your product, project or action;
- You are included in a broad creative communication in the region (e.g. by Designregio Kortrijk);
- You gain access to a regional and international network of passionate and creative people, organisations and companies.
What’s in it for you?
What can this international network do for you?
Many civic initiatives contribute to the creative and dynamic image of the region and city. If you in turn want to show that you are proud to be part of this inspiring city and region, use the PROUD AMBASSADOR label on your communication and strengthen your event, project or initiative!
Through the network you connect with top international companies. We bring knowledge to our region, such as the DESIGN IN SHOPS project that was developed in Montréal and Detroit, and is now being rolled out in 40 Kortrijk businesses to demonstrate the positive influence of a design-oriented adaptation for a business, but also for an entire neighbourhood and even city.
Kaunas (Lithuania) in 2022, when they are European Capital of Culture, develop their own version of the K-TOTEM for their public space, in cooperation with Designregion Kortrijk.
The Designtools project of Joos Vancauwenberghe, Rhizo school group, was selected as one of the most inspiring initiatives for the Design Education Summit in Singapore. Of the two hundred entries, only five were awarded. Joos was then also allowed to pitch the project at the Summit 2021. Designtools is intended to bring design thinking methods into the classroom of secondary school students.
Through the UNESCO network, the regional designers get access to many interesting international open calls, events, knowledge exchange and networking opportunities.
Realisations Kortrijk UNESCO Design Region 2017 - 2021
Every four years, every city belonging to the Creative Cities network has to submit a 'monitoring report', an evaluation report to UNESCO on the achievements of the past four years. We are very proud to present this colourful report and are already looking forward to another four years of inspiring visits, knowledge sharing, active collaborations, and making an impact together!
Kortrijk Creative City Tour
Discover Kortrijk with this inspiring walking route!
This 6,5km long route takes you along six creative neighbourhoods with unique landmarks, shops, catering and events in the city centre of Kortrijk.
Available in 4 languages and free to pick up at Tourism Kortrijk (Begijnhofpark) or online.
Get to know the creativity of the region!
This newspaper will inspire you with surprising stories of passionate people from the Kortrijk UNESCO Design Region. They are all creatively active, whether as designers or students, teachers, entrepreneurs or committed citizens. They dare to colour outside the lines and set the region in motion every day. All this talent together can only inspire.