Masters add clout to trendsetting event

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 November, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 November, 2004, 12:00am

Tadao Ando, Frank Gehry and Philippe Starck are among the world-class designers headlining the conference

ALL EYES ARE on Hong Kong as more than 4,500 of the world's top names in design descend on the city to take part in Business of Design Week 2004: Lifestyle Asia. That is more than double the number who took part last year, reflecting Hong Kong's growing importance as a trendsetter in the region.

'This shows that today's businesses strive to leverage design excellence to achieve business success,' said Freeman Lau, chairman of the board of directors of the Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC), the organisers of the event.

Business of Design Week, being held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, comprises an International Conference and Forum which opens today, a Design Exhibition and an Outreach Exhibition.

The event, which runs until Sunday, has attracted top designers and business leaders from a diverse range of industries.

The Design Exhibition opened on Tuesday. It features several national design pavilions and four local design associations.

The Outreach Exhibition, called Detour - Wan Chai, will show participants how groundbreaking design can add value to their businesses while increasing competitiveness and promoting company growth.

Business Design Week is quickly becoming one of the most important gatherings on the international design calendar.

'Our Design Exhibition this year gathers Asia's most comprehensive sample of outstanding design under one roof. National design pavilions from Germany, Sweden and Thailand add to the internationalism and quality of designs exhibited, as does the participation of many world-class designers from Hong Kong and Greater China,' Mr Lau said.

Big guns from the fields of design, architecture and business will be represented at the event.

Representatives of household names such as Ikea and Sony Ericsson of Sweden, Motorola of the United States and Samsung of South Korea will share their insights along with Eslite Bookstore of Taiwan, Philips Design of the Netherlands, Propaganda of Thailand, and Roppongi Hills and TOTO of Japan.

Some top names in design will address the gathering on design, branding, innovation and technology.

They include Tadao Ando, the third Japanese architect named laureate of the Pritzker Architecture prize, whose works include the Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum in Japan and the critically acclaimed Modern Art Museum at Fort Worth in the United States; Frank Gehry, who designed the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles; and Philippe Starck, a French designer of contemporary furniture. Business leaders Larry Keeley of Doblin and Ron Sim of SIM will also give talks.

'This year we have assembled one of our best panels of keynote speakers and exhibitors and I warmly welcome and thank them for their involvement. With design and branding visionaries ... this conference, Business of Design Week 2004, is destined to be the major design event of the year in Asia,' Mr Lau said.

The HKDC wants to put Hong Kong on the design world's map.

'Business of Design Week is our flagship event and each year attracts top professionals across all design and business disciplines from around the world. The following days will revolve around the excitement of our International Conference and Forum, featuring some of the world's top design and business strategists, and our innovative Design Exhibition, which marks the true convergence of international design,' Mr Lau said.

Despite its relatively short history, the event is beginning to have an impact.

HKDC chairman of the board of governors Victor Lo said: 'Now in its third successful year, Business of Design Week has become Asia's leading international conference on design, branding and innovation. This year's activities continue the trend, with a high-powered schedule of prestigious international design and business experts, and a comprehensive design exhibition covering some of the top works that have impacted the Asian design scene.'

The event has the full support of the government.

Mr Lau said: 'We are set to witness the true power of design, branding and innovation in the coming days. For this, we have many organisations to thank, particularly the Hong Kong government and our major sponsor, the Innovation and Technology Commission, for their strength of commitment, and our co-organiser, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, for their tireless support.'

Design is one of the key areas that must be developed as Hong Kong completes its transition from a manufacturing to a service-based economy, according to Mr Lau.

'Business of Design Week 2004 is again creating a platform where business success and good design is able to benefit not just the Asian design industry but business and end-users around the world,' he said.