FROM NOVELTY ITEMS to high-end silverware, millions of gift and premium items manufactured by Hong Kong companies decorate homes and offices worldwide. Increasingly, local companies are breaking away from the traditional role of manufacturing and adding value to their processes by designing their own products. In recognition of the growing importance of design and to mark its 50th anniversary, the Hong Kong Exporters' Association held an anniversary design competition, inviting companies to submit designs to showcase their design capabilities. The winning entries - a stationery set, a golf hat and a keychain with a built-in light-emitting diode projector - are on show at the Gifts and Premium Fair. While there were no restrictions on materials, contestants had to submit designs that included the association's logo. Entries were judged on creativity, practicality, cost-effectiveness and quality of product. The association said innovative design, whether in gifts used as corporate giveaways or in premium items, were an indicator of the art and lifestyle of the times. Competitions are seen as important tools in promoting design awareness and developing creativity. Besides being part of the 50th anniversary celebrations, the competition was created to enhance the creativity and design quality of Hong Kong companies and promote local designs among international buyers. The first prize went to le chino limited, for a stationery gift set titled 'le aero'. It included a memo pad holder, a pen and a pen stand. The set is made of zinc alloy, and the pen suggests the shape of an ascending airplane, symbolising the advances and successes of association members and the body's future development. The company won a complimentary booth at the Gifts & Premium Fair and a contract to make anniversary souvenirs for the association. The runners-up, Golden Crown Enterprises International and New San Ban Stationery, have been given exhibition space to display their concepts. The panel of judges said a growing number of overseas companies that used product design services were working with Hong Kong firms. The association said local designers were held in high esteem, and their products were seen as unique and trendy. The competition was judged by Lui Sun-wing, vice-president and chief executive of the Institute of Enterprise at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Trade Development Council head of design Matthew Leung and Lau Kwok-kee, president of the Industrial Designers Society of Hong Kong.