Danish innovation centre looks to design creativity

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 November, 2011, 12:00am


The floor is covered by a grass print carpet, on which adjustable-height desks that allow workers to do their jobs standing up - improving blood circulation - are piled neatly.

It is not an avant-garde furniture warehouse but the new office of a design centre aimed at being the seed for a future exchange of creativity between Hong Kong and Denmark.

Innovation Centre Denmark Hong Kong, being inaugurated today, is the Danish government's fourth such centre in the world, after Silicon Valley, Munich and Shanghai. The Hong Kong centre is the first to focus on design.

Executive director Martine Gram Barbry said the centre's role was not only to bring Danish design philosophies and companies to this part of the world or match them with local firms. 'It's important that it's not just about Denmark [companies] coming to Hong Kong. We are eager to learn from Hong Kong as well as collaborating design industries between Europe and Asia,' she said.

Barbry said other cities such as Singapore and Seoul had been considered for setting up an innovation centre, which was created by the Danish Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Business and Growth. In the end, Hong Kong was selected.

'We thought Hong Kong has a lot of things going on. In terms of design, Hong Kong is among the most advanced [in Asia],' she said, citing the Octopus card as among the best designs to originate in Hong Kong.

'You also have the Business of Design Week, which is the most important design event in Asia, and Hong Kong is a good gateway to China.'

Coincidentally, Denmark will be the partner country for next year's design week.

Barbry said Danish design was not just about aesthetics, but most importantly the engineering of a product or service to fit human needs.

She hoped the concept could be more widely adopted in both public and private sectors, citing the enhancement of user experience at hospitals or post offices, making them more user-friendly.

'In Denmark, we put ourselves in the heads and bodies of the users. You can draw the parallel between designing public service and designing a chair, which has to look good and be comfortable,' she said.

The innovation centre has yet to finalise concrete plans but Barbry hoped it could foster academic exchange on design between Hong Kong and Denmark. She also hoped internship exchanges for design students would eventually be possible.