Edited by David Emanuel Andersson, Åke E. Andersson and Charlotta Mellander
Chapter 8: Understanding Canada’s Evolving Design Economy
Tara Vinodrai Over the past decade, there has been a flurry of attention paid to the emerging creative economy and its articulation across space: the creative city. Within this arena, designers are now viewed as central actors and design is celebrated as a critical factor contributing to the competitiveness and creativity of firms, cities, regions and nations. Yet, how prevalent is design work? How has design employment changed over time and space? What are the institutional conditions that support design employment in the so-called ‘creative city’? To answer these questions, this chapter draws upon recent and ongoing research on design and the creative economy in Canadian cities. The chapter begins by discussing why cities and metropolitan regions are critical to our understanding of creative and cultural activities. First, cities act as the ideal environment in which creative and cultural activities thrive. Second, places with strong institutions – particularly institutions of higher learning such as universities and colleges – can act as ‘anchors of creativity’ to support creative activity. Third, cities have unique social characteristics and spatial environments that act to attract and retain highly skilled workers. This chapter goes further to suggest that design can be viewed as a particularly unique form of creative activity that contributes to the urban milieu and creates both cultural and economic value through a ‘design dividend’ for the cityregion (cf. Markusen and Schrock, 2006; Vinodrai, 2009). Following this discussion, the chapter introduces the methodological approach and data sources used in the analysis. The fourth section presents...
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