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Future tech

Hong Kong conference to hear how design can solve problems the world faces, such as ageing, ill-health and mobility

Inclusive design that puts the needs of people first will be on the agenda at Knowledge of Design Week

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 June, 2017, 12:47pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 June, 2017, 12:47pm

The world is becomingincreasingly divided – income inequality is on the rise, the World Economic Forum said earlier this year, and many countries, including China and the United States, have seen a growing split between the urban and rural areas. Can design offer a solution to these problems, and how?

That is the question to be tackled at the Knowledge of Design Week 2017, a five-day conference in Hong Kong next week organised by the Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC), whose theme is “Include”.

“Inclusive design is about design for people and with people. The outcomes are experiential transformation, beyond design in the narrowest sense,” says Edmund Lee, the executive director of the HKDC. “It’s timely to revisit how design can help to shape a better future, placing the needs of people, citizen and users, and their well-being, at the centre, ahead of bureaucracy or departmental needs.”

Let’s design HK 3.0

Design in this broad sense refers to the process of seeking solutions to problems rather than how a product looks or functions. “Having a commitment to foster an inclusive society is good, but the true power of design for inclusivity goes beyond accessibility and … the provision of services for the underprivileged or handicapped,” Lee says.

So what is good design and how does it work? Twenty speakers from around the world will make their case for the usefulness of design to address issues such as ageing, ill-health and mobility.

Piotr Loj, from Poland, who established the Virtual Dream Foundation, will talk about how he uses virtual reality to take children suffering from long-term diseases beyond the walls of hospitals and give them experiences they could never otherwise have.

By deploying [technology) well to solve problems or create new futures, Hong Kong will be a place of sustained growth and competitiveness
Edmund Lee, HKDC

Rama Gheerawo, the director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design of London’s Royal College of Art, who conducts research on autonomous vehicles, will give the audience a glimpse of a future of driverless cars whizzing people to their destinations.

Azmat Yusuf, of the team behind mobile application Citymapper, will explain the app’s use of real-time data to help users navigate cities and find the fastest public transport routes. The company is now launching its own bus services in London.

Lee acknowledges that the pioneering ideas many of the speakers advocate may not be easily accepted by government or industry, but believes such stimulation is essential for societies to make progress.

Fostering business innovation through design with a human approach

“By deploying [technology) well to solve problems or create new futures, Hong Kong will be a place of sustained growth and competitiveness,” says Lee. “Failing that, we will be playing catch-up, or even be timed out.”

Knowledge of Design Week 2017, June 12-16, Hotel Icon, 17 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, HK$900-HK$2,200. Inquiries: 2522 8688