Bold vision and commitment will nurture creative industry
I was working in London when the government launched the 'Cool Britannia' campaign almost a decade ago. The concept has since morphed into more sophisticated ideas elsewhere. As Hong Kong aspires to become a creative city, let us see what other economies are doing to promote creativity.
Most people will agree that South Korea has successfully transformed into a creative economy in the past decade. The government and business have invested in educating and training a new generation of creative professionals. In Finland, four tertiary institutions have merged to provide opportunities for cross-disciplinary education and research.
We are witnessing a sea change in the education of designers. Design is no longer just applicable to 'tangible' products. Service design is developing in the US, Britain and some Scandinavian countries, as an integrated approach to the processes, systems and business models of design. These countries have also departed from conventional teaching. Training the new generation of designers is no different from strategy, management or market research consultants. To quote John Heskett (chair professor at Polytechnic University's design school), Hong Kong should produce designers that 'function not as second rate artists but first rate business professionals'.
Governments are a major 'consumer' in most economies and can lead the adoption of innovation. Seoul's mayor made design a theme to enhance the city's international competitiveness.
Hong Kong people are no less creative than Londoners or New Yorkers and Vivienne Tam is an example. While it is crucial to ensure that Hong Kong's creative professionals are up to international standards, it is equally important to stimulate local demand for creative industries.
For Hong Kong to cultivate sustainable creative industry, we need to look into both supply and demand. Otherwise, Hong Kong will continue to lose its talented professionals. If it lives up to its brand promise of being a progressive world city, it is high time we catch up with the rest of the world. As architect Rocco Yim Sen-kee said at a recent seminar, this requires 'vision, courage and taste'.
Rachel Chan, founder of InnoFoco