The seaside city of Valencia, Spain, was named World Design Capital of 2022, and it has embraced this distinction through city-wide events, workshops and exhibitions, as well as new design initiatives that are intended to benefit the city long after the year is over.

The title of World Design Capital is given by the World Design Organization, a non-governmental organisation founded in 1957. Previous winners include Lille, France (2020), Mexico City (2018), and Seoul, South Korea (2010). In 2024, the award will be shared for the first time between the neighbouring cities of San Diego in California and Tijuana in Mexico.

Here, we look at some of the highlights from World Design Capital Valencia 2022.

Àgora València 

Agora installed in the city hall plaza in Valencia for World Design Capital 2022
Photograpy: David Zarzoso

A unique architectural project created for Valencia World Design Capital 2022 is the Àgora, situated in the main city-hall plaza, and designed to be a gathering point for events and for visitors to learn about the programme of activities throughout the year. A long rectangular structure with stilt-like legs gives way to a raised open interior made up of hundreds of small white square panels. Designed by Miguel Arraiz, architect, creative and project manager of World Design Capital Valencia 2022, together with Arqueha Arquitectura y Urbanismo, and Cosín Estudio, the undulating, wave-like roof reflects the city’s connection to the sea, while the white panels, made with white MDi, a ceramic-like material, reference the region’s rich history with the ceramics and stone industries. Among standout events at the Àgora, a unique lighting installation, conceived by creative studio Radiante Lab with energy efficiency in mind and shown nightly, aims to highlight the structure’s architecture and create a connection with citizens. 

Plaça de l’Ajuntament de València

Jaime Hayon at the CCC

Jaime hayon exhibition during world design capital valencia 2022

A major highlight of the Valencia World Design Capital 2022 is the retrospective exhibition of Jaime Hayon, whose creative studio is based in the city, with further offices in Barcelona and Treviso, Italy. Opening on 22 September 2022, at the Centre del Carme Cultura Contemporània (CCCC), ‘InfinitaMente’ will bring together a selection of iconic works by the Madrid-born designer and artist, some of which have never been seen in Spain before, including Masquemask, a series of seven large tapestry masks. The exhibition will take visitors on a journey into Hayon’s colourful universe and creative process over the last 20-plus years with large-scale paintings and sculptures, two rooms dedicated to his playful yet complex ceramic and glass work, and a room given over to materials, sketchbooks, drawings and prototypes. The exhibition will include work made for commercial products, such as vases, jars and furniture, but also limited-edition and unique pieces and works on paper. ‘InfinitaMente’ will be on view through April 16, 2023. 

Carrer del Museu, 2, 4

ADN Ceramico

Ana Illueca Valencia ceramicist
‘Relationships’ vases by Ana Illueca. Photography: Pau Rodilla

While the award of World Design Capital is given to a city that embraces creativity, it is also an opportunity for the city to invest in urban projects and initiatives that use design to foster creativity and growth for the future. One of these is ADN Ceramico, a project launched by ceramicist Ana Illueca to promote Valencia’s ceramic traditions and Mediterranean culture while building a platform for contemporary ceramic artists working across the city. ADN Ceramico aims to foster new relationships between the ceramic industry and independent designers for future collaborations through a host of workshops and events throughout the year, as well as a digital mapping of ceramic artists in the region. This map can also be used by tourists visiting the region and interested to discover new work, as well as by brands and companies looking for ideas and new collaborations. Notes Illueca, ‘The most exciting thing for me is that the ceramic community itself is proud of this project. They recognise the need and put energy into making the project achieve its objectives.’

Various locations across the city; for programme, see