Focus on regional design hub

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 December, 2007, 12:00am

Show puts Hong Kong in the spotlight as a centre for creativity, innovation and branding

Business of Design Week draws about 40,000 participants and more than 100 speakers every year, including an unrivalled list of design masters and business leaders.

Organised by the non-profit Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC) and now in its sixth year, the event is one of the most significant on the international design calendar and is easily Asia's leading design show, one that catapults Hong Kong on to the world stage as the region's design hub.

The best of the global design world converges on the city for the annual week-long forum that seeks to unleash the power of businesses through design, innovation and branding.

HKDC's project director William To said the event definitely put Hong Kong on the map. 'It enhances the city's image as being Asia's design hub because we're not just an ordinary design event. Our delegates come from around the world and are the best in the business and design worlds.'

The event, uniquely focused on the intricate relationship between business and design, provides an international platform for designers, experts and entrepreneurs to network and exchange ideas as well as an essential introduction to design for students and the public.

'We'd like to educate the public on the value and importance of design in the business world. There's so much design in every aspect of our lives, including the way we live. Because Hong Kong is such a commercial city the public doesn't see the value of it,' Mr To said.

He said that in the past few years there had been in a shift in the community. 'We're now not the only ones promoting design awareness. Many publications, from young fashion magazines to business journals, now have a regular column on design.

'It's a really good sign and reinforces the fact that more people are valuing it,' he said. Event highlights include a three-day international forum, the Hong Kong Design Centre Awards, concurrent outreach programmes, conferences and exhibitions that all highlight the value of good design.

Winners of the World's Outstanding Chinese Designer Award, the Design Leadership Award, the Design for Asia Award, and the Hong Kong Young Design Talent Awards will be announced at the HKDC's annual award gala dinner.

The awards are aimed at encouraging designers to contribute influential works by creating products with impact. Leaders who use design to drive their business successes are also recognised.

Previous winners include the chairman of Samsung and Ford Motor's chief designer, Chelsia Lau, who received a nod for her work as Most Outstanding Chinese Designer.

Design education in Asia, international branding strategy and intellectual property (IP) are all topics that will be explored at the forum's numerous exhibitions and conferences.

'If you talk about design these days, you can't neglect the issue of intellectual property management and this is especially important when Hong Kong is the gateway to China. For the IP Asia event we have invited experts from the legal industry to discuss brands, trademarks and content. We want to make sure we look at it intellectual property management and protection from all angles.'

This year's forum topics will focus around the four streams of Mobility and Design, Brands and Design, Products, Technology and Design and Communication Design and Branding, and are based on the strengths of BODW's partner country this year.

'Italy is the perfect example of how design has driven the economic success of a country. Its interest in design is a part of its culture and history, and something we can learn from,' he said.

Several exhibitions have been organised to showcase Italian mastery, craftsmanship and inspiration in the past 50 years.

'Exhibition Maestri. Design Italiano' presents the history of Italian design, focusing on the creativity of 21 masters credited with reinventing design using innovative technologies and new relationships between form and function.

Another Italian themed event is the work of one of Italy's most prolific architects, Massimiliano Fuksas. The man behind Ferrari's headquarters in Maranello, Italy and Emporio Armani in Hong Kong is promising 'an unconventional design exhibition' at the design week this year.

It may well be an object used daily that goes unnoticed but the humble chair takes centre stage at the exhibition's 'The Italian way of seating'. Featuring Italian designs from the second half of the 20th century, 70 chairs illustrating the history of the country's design movements from 1950 to 2000 will be displayed in chronological order.

An Italian brand participating in one of the more accessible free events is Salvatore Ferragamo. It is one of 10 brands involved in the 9707 Project, launched to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's reunification with China.