Design Quarter Winnipeg aims to promote Downtown, Exchange and The Forks
Josh Crabb, CTV Winnipeg
Published Friday, May 12, 2017 6:02PM CST
Last Updated Friday, May 12, 2017 8:01PM CST
A new non-profit organization is hoping to bring more visitors to the city's core area by promoting Winnipeg as a design city.
Design Quarter Winnipeg, which officially launches Friday evening, is being billed as a walkable destination connecting The Exchange District, Downtown and The Forks.
The organization is made up of number of businesses and organizations with the goal of highlighting local retail shops, restaurants and art galleries.
"Great design - whether in spaces, fashion or consumer goods, and the creative energy of Winnipeg - is something to celebrate," said Johanna Hurme, board chair of Design Quarter Winnipeg. "We want to highlight and curate these areas in Winnipeg to locals and visitors because appreciation for design contributing to experience is a growing trend locally and globally."
Design Quarter Winnipeg offers a website, a map and storefront decals. The group will also put on events, tours and special offers throughout the year.
Winnipeg-based economist Rob Warren said each of the three areas involved already offers a distinct flavour and bundling them together may create branding problems.
“This tries to brand something that already has its own brand,” said Warren. “To try and come up with this arch that takes over all of them, to me, takes away from each of them just as they were building up a solid reputation.”
“When we think about the Forks, we think about local food and beverages and locally-sourced products. When we think about the Exchange District, there we really think about the architecture and all the design work that went into that and we think about the things that are already there like the galleries that build on that.”
The organization's executive director Zephyra Vun said Design Quarter Winnipeg isn't a rebranding strategy, it's aimed at promoting existing destinations within The Exchange, The Forks and Downtown.
“By no means are we taking away from what already exists it’s just about creating a quarter… a walkable, accessible go to map for anybody to pick up and be able to experience specific cultural and design-related businesses and experiences,” said Vun. “We’re a non-profit organization we are a physical area and we’re a community.”
“It is various things but it is not replacing any of the things that already exist.”
The Winnipeg Foundation, The Forks, Travel Manitoba, Tourism Winnipeg and The Exchange Biz have partnered with Design Quarter Winnipeg.
Mayor Brian Bowman was at an unveiling for Design Quarter Winnipeg Friday morning and supports the initiative.
“This initiative shows there was a tremendous amount of collaboration between a number of the parties involved,” said Bowman. “I think it’s just one more piece of that tourism puzzle.”
“When people are looking specifically for design, we’ve got the information to provide it to them.”
Martha Street Studio, an artist-run centre focusing on print-related art, is one of the 45 members of Design Quarter Winnipeg.
Executive director Kristin Nelson hopes it will help get the word out about what’s going on at the studio.
“This is an opportunity to widen that public knowledge and we’re hoping to see a few more visitors,” said Nelson. “Smaller businesses don’t have giant marketing budgets, that’s one of the reasons we joined as a non-profit.”
“Coming together as a community in this way offers a new way for us to market to visitors from outside who might not know what we are, what we do here.”