Design dreams for Hong Kong

Counterfeiting a worry but government and companies to talk about crackdown

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 December, 2012, 3:48am

Denmark and Hong Kong have joined hands for this year's Business of Design Week, where industry big names rub shoulders with rising young designers.

The annual conference, which Hong Kong's government hopes will help brand the city as a go-to destination for design, is organising meeting between Danish and Chinese companies.

While all eyes are on China, some remain cautious about the ever-present counterfeit industry in the Chinese market. "I'm both pissed and smiling," said Jacob Holm, president and chief executive of the Republic of Fritz Hansen, whose furniture is being copied and sold on the mainland.

Holm is proud his company's products are worth faking, yet frustrated with the presence of such copies in the market. The company, whose simple yet elegant furniture can cost thousands of euros, is in discussions with the central government to crack down on counterfeiters.

The company takes being genuine seriously - it refuses to work with those who use fake products. When it found copies of Arne Jacobsen's furniture being used among authentic ones at a restaurant chain, it suspended its supplies, saying it "could not co-operate with a group that accepted piracy".

"[People] definitely know what good design is, but they don't value it," said Lawrence Chu Chun-hei a product designer for Bissell, an American manufacturing company.

Holm is keen to differentiate between stealing and drawing inspiration. He takes for example the China Chair created by Danish designer Hans Wegner.

The product was inspired by a classic Ming dynasty chair, but incorporated Danish woodwork and different cushioning.

The event runs until December 8 at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai.