Designs on future of business

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 June, 2012, 12:00am


Design products, systems and thinking are changing the business world, providing vast opportunities for those involved in the field. At the helm of the Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC) since 2010, executive director Dr Edmund Lee Tak-yue has witnessed the growing dominance of innovations and designs in our society.

An expert in microbiology, with more than 20 years of management experience in public and professional services, Lee shares his insights on how to incorporate design-thinking more fully into the economy.

What is your role at the HKDC in formulating Hong Kong's strategy for the design industry?

My role at the HKDC - a design promotional agency - is to advocate the use of design and promote its wider use in the creation of business value and progress in society.

I am talking about design with a capital D. It is not just about aesthetics, or making things beautiful on the surface. I am referring to design thinking and how you integrate it into your overall system and strategy so that it can deliver an outcome with a bigger impact and a greater efficiency, or even cost-effectiveness.

It is our hope that more executives in the business sector will come to better understand and appreciate the power of design, both in terms of differentiating their companies and in creating value and impact.

How can design create value for businesses?

The role of designers and design is becoming more prominent in our society. The world is running with a creative mindset and the design industry is going to influence economic and cultural development. The sense of appreciating design, its use as a style and knowledge, is going to be emphasised.

Designers need to grasp opportunities, as we will venture even further across disciplines to create the 'wow' impact. It is not about technologies but about your mindset and how well you master your tools and work with other masters of other disciplines.

What opportunities and challenges are there for creative minds?

Nowadays, a creative mindset is about cross-disciplinary innovation. When you integrate technologies and different design disciplines, you need to have the business vigour to see through the conceptualisation and implementation of the entire thing.

How does that affect designers and people working with them?

The design field is very vibrant. With more and more arts venues being built in Hong Kong, there is a huge demand for professionals to curate, manage and implement programmes.

At the HKDC, we see a need to emphasise education, particularly in continuous professional development for designers, managers and executives.

This year, we are launching the Institute of Design Knowledge for experienced managers and executives, to help broaden their horizons through a knowledge-exchange platform.

Learning about design is a vigorous process. It involves an insight into problem-solving, research ability, concept formation, prototyping and drafting of solutions.

The whole process is very systematic.

How can people develop a creative mindset?

Making a creative mindset more powerful means starting training as early as possible. Children who are still in their formative years therefore need to be exposed to all kinds of liberal arts and cultural studies.

All creativity starts with an inquisitive mind - a state of mind. A creative mindset is constantly being inspired by different sources. And most likely, this kind of inspiration comes from outside your own profession.