Sir Terence Conran, probably the world's most commercially successful designer, has urged China to take a greater interest in design rather than concentrating wholly on manufacturing. 'We can give a design to a Chinese company and get [our products] made at an extraordinary price. But we get no contributions from the Chinese manufacturers ... in terms of design or innovation,' Sir Terence said yesterday at the launch of the Business of Design Week's LifeStyleAsia conference at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai. 'The problem facing talented young designers in China is that the manufacturers are only interested in making something with no risk to themselves.' In terms of future growth in design, Hong Kong and the mainland had huge unrealised potential, he said. 'If I were a young designer, this is where I'd be setting up my pitch,' he said of Hong Kong. 'One of the great opportunities for the world's designers is to work with Hong Kong and Chinese manufacturers to improve their products.' For most of his hour-long speech, Sir Terence presented a slide show on his own design empire. Of particular interest to locals was his focus on the use of historic buildings and old spaces, an issue the government is now struggling to address. He showed an old garage in London that is now the sleek Bluebird restaurant, bar, cafe and food store, plus a glamorous New York restaurant in the once-derelict area under a bridge from Manhattan to Queens. Sir Terence drew laughter from the audience when he bluntly called Hong Kong 'a city filled with the most beautifully, elegantly designed buildings, and some really horrible ugly buildings'. He also emphasised the importance of design education, something that is sorely lacking in Hong Kong schools. 'Don't just teach the designers to design; teach the children to understand design,' he advised, adding that design was now mandatory in Britain's school curriculum.