City of Design - Shenzhen



On 7 December 2008, the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO and the Shenzhen Government jointly held a press conference in Beijing, and officially released the news. Shenzhen's success in winning the title of "City of Design" indicated the global community's recognition of Shenzhen's long-standing adherence to the strategy of independent innovation and developing cultural and creative industries.

On 19 November 2008, Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, the Director-General of UNESCO, approved Shenzhen to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN), as the first "City of Design" in China and the sixth one in the world recognized by UNESCO.

On 28 May 2008, the applying team went to Beijing to report related business. Zhang Xinsheng, then the Director of the Plenary Meeting of the Party's local committee and the Deputy Minister of Education, said after hearing the report that he would fully support Shenzhen and clearly pointed out that Shenzhen's applying to join the UCCN was a "State Act". The Plenary Meeting soon organized an expert meeting, and then sent a formal letter to UNESCO to recommend Shenzhen as a city representative for China to apply for the "City of Design".

The applying team made and implemented the applying work plan, public relations plan, and the publicity and promotion plan; they sent more than 100 communication letters to UNESCO within half a year, actively carried out public relations and publicity work, directly or indirectly contacted all key institutions and key figures, and won their support. What's more, it took only about a month for them to complete the revision, design and printing of the Chinese and English versions of the applying report of high quality, and they went to Paris to submit the report in May 2008.

According to instructions from Guangdong Province and the Shenzhen Municipal Party Committee, the city of Shenzhen formally established the Application Steering Group in April 2008 and formed its task force led by the Publicity Department of the Municipal Party Committee. This task force was operated by the Newspaper Group, with participation of some member organizations of the Steering Group such as the Foreign Affairs Office, Cultural Affairs Bureau, and Federation of Literary and Art Circles.


经过半年的沟通、联络,联合国教科文组织2007年 6月同意接受深圳市申请,深圳市代表随即赴巴黎递交了市长致联合国教科文组织的信函,明确表达了深圳希望加入创意城市网络,申请“设计之都”称号的愿望,正式启动“申都”工作。





Background of the Survey

As a bridgehead for China's reform and opening up, Shenzhen is considered to be the birthplace of the country's modern design concept.

In 2003, Shenzhen took the lead nationwide in establishing a cultural city strategy and decided on the prominent position of culture in the overall development strategy of the city. On December 7, 2008, Shenzhen was officially designated by UNESCO as China's first and the world's sixth City of Design in the Creative Cities Network. Shenzhen Design has become a bright business card for the city, and the design industry has become an increasingly powerful starting point for Shenzhen to transform its economic growth mode and achieve innovation-driven development.

In March 2018, a top leader of Shenzhen inspected the city's creative industries, and called on the city to build stronger time-leading Shenzhen brands with a global vision, and build a global innovative design capital at a high starting point and with high standards. He also asked the city to implement the Shenzhen Brand strategy in depth, and enhance the international reputation of the Shenzhen Design Week, the Shenzhen Global Design Award and other events.

In recent years, design has gone beyond professional groups to the society and the public in Shenzhen, has gradually become part of the life and aesthetics of the citizens, and has been a basic appeal for improving the quality of personal life. However, Shenzhen has always lacked an authoritative and city - wide statistical survey of the entire design industry. At the beginning of 2018, led by the Shenzhen City of Design Promotion Office and other departments, the Shenzhen City of Design Promotion Association (SDPA) started this survey in the whole city on Shenzhen's design industry, hoping to accurately grasp the current situation and development trend of Shenzhen's design industry through this scientific, comprehensive and detailed statistical survey.

Implementation of the Survey

In August 2018, with the support of the Shenzhen City of Design Promotion Office, the Shenzhen City of Design Promotion Association asked the Shenzhen Municipal Market and Quality Supervision Commission to provide basic information for the Shenzhen design industry, namely, the basic information about the enterprises in Shenzhen in the normal registration status and with business involved in the design industry (including but not limited to brand design, graphic design, advertising design, architectural design, interior decoration design, fashion design, industrial design, stage aesthetic design, animation design, and software design) as of June 30, 2018. The basic data included: the unified social credit code, the name of the business entity, the residence, the legal representative, the subscribed registered capital, the business nature, the industry category, the date of establishment, the general business items, the contacts and contact information.

After the information was gathered, the researchers conducted classification and statistical analysis.

Major Findings of the Survey

1. Shenzhen Has More than 100,000 Design Companies
According to the statistical analysis, as of June 30, 2018, there were 108,910 enterprises in the design industry in Shenzhen. Among them, 19,319 enterprises were in Futian District, accounting for 17.7 percent; 8,249 in Luohu District, accounting for 7.6 percent; 18,739 in Nanshan District, accounting for 17.2 percent; 1,115 in Yantian District, accounting for 1.0 percent; 16,120 in Bao'an District, accounting for 14.8 percent; 21,084 in Longgang District, accounting for 19.4 percent; 12,216 in Longhua District, accounting for 11.2 percent; 1,082 in Pingshan District, accounting for 1.0 percent; 1,613 in Guangming District, accounting for 1.5 percent; 291 in Dapeng New District, accounting for 0.3 percent; and 9,082 in Qianhai Cooperation Zone, accounting for 8.3 percent. This is as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1: Distribution of the Number of Design Enterprises in the Districts of Shenzhen

2. More Than 90% of Design Companies Are Limited Liability Companies
According to the statistics, most of Shenzhen's design enterprises are limited liability companies, accounting for more than 90 percent of the total. Among the 108,910 design enterprises, 757 were sole proprietorships, accounting for 0.70 percent; 5,923 were individual industrial businesses, accounting for 5.44 percent; 356 were incorporated companies, accounting for 0.33 percent; 11 were state-owned enterprises, accounting for 0.01 percent; 526 were partnerships, accounting for 0.48 percent; 110 were wholly foreign-owned, accounting for 0.10 percent; 101,197 were limited liability companies, accounting for 92.92 percent; 26 were Sino-foreign joint ventures, accounting for 0.02 percent; and the rest four enterprises could not be classified, so their proportion was ignored. See Figure 2 for details.
Figure 2: Distribution of the
Categories of the Design Enterprises in the Districts of Shenzhen

3. More than 4,000 Design Enterprises Have Registered Capital of More Than 10 Million Yuan
According to the statistics, among the existing 108,910 design enterprises in Shenzhen, the registered capital ranged from 0 to 50 million yuan. Among them, 103,256 companies had registered capital of less than 10 million yuan, accounting for 94.8 percent; 4,466 enterprises had registered capital of more than 10 million yuan, accounting for 4.1 percent; 1,188 enterprises lacked registered capital, accounting for 1.1 percent. This is as shown in Figure 3.

4. It Takes Shenzhen 36 Years to Have 100,000 Design Enterprises
Statistics show that on August 20, 1982, Shenzhen's first design-related enterprise was established. As of December 31, 2017, there were 89,332 design enterprises in Shenzhen, and in 2018 the number exceeded 100,000, reaching 108,910. In other words, it took Shenzhen's design companies 36 years to grow from scratch to 100,000.

At the same time, the statistical results show that in the past 36 years, the number of newly established design enterprises in Shenzhen basically maintained an upward trend. With the development of time, the increase became larger and larger, and a very rapid growth began in 2010, reaching a climax in 2016. The details are shown in Figure 4.

5. Shenzhen Design Enterprises Basically Cover All Current Industries
Statistics show that, with the development of time, the types of industries that Shenzhen's design enterprises are involved in have been constantly expanding, and the expansion of industries has closely related to the growth rate of the number of design enterprises. From 1982 to 2012, the industries involving design changed little in Shenzhen. Since 2013, the number and types of industries have increased a lot, basically covering all current industrial categories.

The business fields of Shenzhen's design industry have been expanding with the time, and the number has been increasing. Among them, the top five in terms of quantity increase were: wholesale and retail; leasing and business services; information transmission, software and information technology services; resident services, repair and other services; culture, sports and entertainment. The development trend of Shenzhen design enterprises' business fields can be seen in Figure 5.

Figure 5: Statistical Chart of the Development Trend of Industrial Categories of Shenzhen
Design Enterprises



The Shenzhen Design Award for Young Talents (SDAY) is an international professional competition for young designers under the age of 35 who are from the 180 UNESCO Creative Cities worldwide. The SDAY is administered by the Shenzhen City of Design Promotion Office, organized by the Shenzhen City of Design Promotion Association (SDPA) in cooperation and collaboration with the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.


The purpose of the SDAY is to reward the efforts of young designers who, through their creativity, have made outstanding contributions to making cities more environmentally friendly and more livable, making society more harmonious, making development more sustainable, and, above all, making human lives better. Meanwhile, the SDAY aims to encourage the exchange between young creative talents from different countries, the cooperation between the Creative Cities, the sharing of those cities’ experiences and ideas for developing creative and cultural industries, the production and sale of creative design products, and the promotion of design thinking.



Wechat Account



  • 设计之都报告(2018)


    PDF 6.38MB

  • 设计之都报告 2015-2016

    设计之都报告 2015-2016

    PDF 13.5MB