Germans share their expertise

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 November, 2011, 12:00am


Now in its ninth year, the Business of Design Week (BODW) promises to be especially exciting and vibrant this time around with design powerhouse Germany stepping up to partner the event.

Top designers, businesses and industry leaders worldwide will converge at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from November 28 to December 3 to share their expertise.

'This is the must-attend platform in Asia that allows the exchange of ideas for the world's most innovative thinkers and business leaders,' says William To, project director of event organiser Hong Kong Design Centre. 'BODW is the place to network and learn and to celebrate those who have demonstrated outstanding work. And as a leader in automotive, product and architectural design, Germany is a great fit for BODW to nurture a creative and strong brand management culture.'

The event consists of forums, seminars, exhibitions and outreach programmes to target design professionals, educators and students, and raises Hong Kong's profile as a design hub.

'Some of the major problems that most local designers face are how the public views the value of design,' To says. 'We want to raise the importance and value of design so that it can generate respect and appreciation. We also want to remind businesses that design is a very powerful business tool.'

Germany will take a leading role as a nation of avant-garde design and attractive brands, together with the who's who in design innovation industries, to create a powerful impression on the Asian scene. The event is set to bring an exchange of ideas on the latest multimedia, social media, technology and innovation in automotive design.

The opening speaker is industrial design icon, Dieter Rams. A leader for 40 years until retiring in 1998, the German is famous for his list of '10 principles to good design', which promotes the idea that products are bought to be used, so they should be elegant, versatile and functional.

Japanese designer Shigeru Ban, hailed by Time magazine as expected to be one of the top 21st-century innovators, and whose works include a building constructed entirely out of recycled cardboard paper tubes, will be the keynote speaker at the closing.

Other speakers include famous industrial designer Stefan Diez and the director of The Bauhaus Archive, Dr Annemarie Jaeggi. Bauhaus was an influential school of architecture, design and art in Germany from 1919 to 1933. The Bauhaus Archive collects and displays the school's items, documents and literature.

Rams, who will take the podium at the plenary session on December1, explains his design approach as 'Weniger, aber besser', which means 'Less, but better'.

'This implies to make things more durable, more intelligent and a lot easier to use,' he says. 'And with the new giant markets in China, India or Brazil we have to raise the question how many things will be possible with our natural resources in the future. There will be no scope for junk design.' He and his staff have designed memorable products for Braun, such as the SK-4 record player and the D-series of 35mm-film slide projectors.

Rams expects 'more seriousness, thoughtfulness, responsibility, and a willingness to take risks' at this year's BODW. He looks forward to seeing more creativity in the whole process of design, including packaging and point of sales.

Diez, who will speak at the product and design session on December 3, is responsible for revolutionary creations, including his Houdini Chair, crafted with a technique used in aircraft modelmaking, and his Papier Bags, which are as light as paper but tear-resistant.

'I see myself occasionally more as an engineer than a designer,' he says. 'I believe new products must be modern and in no way nostalgic. Nowadays, products can reach a higher degree of complexity rather than reflecting meaningless simplicity.'

Diez gets his inspiration from keeping his eyes open while travelling, visiting exhibitions and talking to people. 'Design has a different position in different continents. Asia became the manufacturer for many consumer goods, while Europe and the [United States] have abandoned lots of their own production and concentrated on the marketing and sales,' he says. 'But for a good product, development, production and marketing have to work together.'

A plenary session speaker on December 2, Jaeggi is a prominent scholar, author and German art historian.

When she was appointed director at The Bauhaus Archive, the German press hailed her 'as international as the Bauhaus itself'. She says: 'One lesson China can learn from the Bauhaus is that it has to unify arts and technique in design and that the form should follow the function of an object. To create extraordinary products you have to accept trial and error and stay open-minded for new solutions.'

The BODW provides an important exchange platform for Asian designers where they can meet colleagues and business leaders from other countries, she says. 'For the international visitors, BODW offers the possibility to learn more about Asian design trends.'