Two by two, they board the ark bearing gifts of joint creation: a svelte armchair made of bamboo, a hi-fi system inspired by an ancient string instrument, a dining set marked with elements of Chinese calligraphy, an urban treasure box made of stainless steel, silver jewellery, hand-decorated cashmere shawls and more. While the biblical reference of the project title is incidental, the Creation 9707 project is indeed a pairing - of the who's who of the Hong Kong design world with an international brand - yielding 10 limited-edition products that represent a cross-section of Hong Kong's talent. 'Creation 9707 is an unprecedented union between Hong Kong designers and international brands,' says Allan Chiang, CEO of Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC), the organisation responsible for the project. '[It] acts as an ambassador of our excellence and unique creative abilities ... in the global design area.' Part of HKDC's sixth annual Business of Design Week, which ended on Saturday, Creation was also conceived under the banner of commemorating the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's reunification with the mainland. Two related components were Image 9707 - a commission of 10 T-shirt designs by local and non-local talents including Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, and shoe designer Jimmy Choo, illustrating the vibrancy of Hong Kong - and Design 9707, a compendium titled 'Very Hong Kong', realised in conjunction with the Hong Kong Trade Development Council, containing selected works from the Hong Kong design industry over the past 10 years. At the unveiling, prior to the product auction, the 10 Creation designers and their partner companies shared their views on what lay ahead for the industry. For Kan Tai-keung, designer and dean of the Cheung Kong School of Art and Design in Shantou, Guangdong province, the goal is to increase the visibility and value of Chinese designers in the global market. 'As a designer with first-hand knowledge of Chinese culture, my marketability is high right now,' says Kan. 'My culture is inseparable from my designs, and the products generated are calling cards for both.' His Creation 9707 piece is a 14-piece set of plateware, dubbed 'Floral Banquet', including bowls, plates and chopstick holders. Drawing on his study of Chinese calligraphy, Kan treats the ceramic surfaces like blank pages, filling each with ink strokes and red seals. Flower motifs are illustrated in Ming-style blue - a technique that Royal Copenhagen, Kan's partner, 'borrowed' from China more than 230 years ago. A spokesman from the Danish company says they hope this collaboration will be a foot in the door to the mainland market. Meanwhile, jewellery designer and cultural historian Lo Kai-yin is more concerned with changing the world's perception of China through original design. 'There are a lot of cliches about China, not in the least that it's the factory of the world, [mass producing] foreign designs. I see myself as part of a modern filter of 5,000 years of history, and hope to take Chinese design out of the realm of being small and highly ethnic.' Her collaboration with Hong Kong's Shanghai Tang produced a shawl that draws upon the ancient motif of the lingzhi or 'mushroom of immortality', and a scarf that references the infinity knot, both in cashmere. 'Knots are universal signs of linkage and bonding,' says Lo. 'Graceful and fluid, they have been incorporated into the design language of both east and west.' This year, HKDC honoured Lo for her efforts towards re-branding the Chinese image in mainstream design culture. Lo is the winner of the World's Outstanding Chinese Designer Award. Past winners include Chelsea Lau, chief designer of Ford Motor Company in the US, and fashion designer Vivienne Tam. Victor Lo, chairman of the board for HKDC, says that the sustained quality of Lo's work in almost 30 years reflects 'her commitment to the propagation of Chinese thinking and culture, in both academic and artistic circles'. Other Creation designers have taken less academic routes to their designs, focusing on developing indigenous materials and function. Founder of Ecco Design, Eric Chan chooses to use bamboo in building Ecco 9707 - a sturdy but light chair for the modern home. 'Bamboo is a flexible, fast-growing and sustainable resource for furniture design.' says Chan. 'It reflects the personality of the Chinese in its resilience.' Chan's partner company, Herman Miller, has a tradition of working with designers going back to Charles and Ray Eames and George Nelson. It shares Chan's belief in creating products of 'advanced performance, using common materials in an uncommon way'. Its workshops are refining techniques of sugar-extraction and lamination on bamboo, to make it viable for all climates. Chan sees bamboo as China's lasting contribution to the future of ergonomic design. At the Award Gala auction, architect Lo Chi-Wing's Stringless Pleasure hi-fi stereo system garnered the second highest (but the highest among the homeware designs) bid of HK$210,000, topped only by the winning bid of HK$300,000 for a silver necklace by Vivienne Tam and Swedish jewellery house Georg Jensen. Lo's stereo is made of solid zitan wood, with a built-in CD player, iPod dock, subwoofer, and control knobs made of jade. The use of wood and the distance between the two radial speakers was inspired by the form of the guzheng, a Chinese string instrument. A self-described 'layman in electronics', Lo took advantage of the expertise and resources of British loudspeaker manufacturer KEF, to realise the collaboration. 'This was a truly multinational project, and a great learning experience,' says Simon Davies, director of product planning and design for Gold Peak Industries, which owns KEF. 'We worked with [mainland] suppliers and Italian woodworks studio Giorgetti for construction and detailed in-lay work. This was an experiment that has proved successful. The solid wood gives a richness to the audio quality.' Next year, Creation 9707 prototypes are slated to travel to Toronto in March as part of the Chinese Design: Everyday show, then Milan as part of That's Design! 2008, and London in June for the China Now show. Locally, limited numbers of the accessory designs - Lo's cashmere collection, Barney Chang's Le SportSac series, Alan Chan's silk-screen scarves for Salvatore Ferragamo, and Freeman Lau's Life of Circle jewellery - are available for sale in stores. But the chair, sound system and plate set can only be custom-ordered through HKDC. As the Creation 9707 products head abroad to represent Hong Kong, designers at home will need to take a good look at the competition in the region. Japan's design culture is still head and shoulders above the rest; of the 10 winners of the Design for Asia Award (DFA), five are projects by Japanese companies, including Sony, Softbank Mobile, and Nakagawa Package Company, whose whimsical Cubic Floater, designed by Toshihiko Suzuki, challenges our ideas of packaging, framing displays, and storage. The other awards went to companies in Indonesia, South Korea, Taiwan, and India, with Studio Mumbai's design of the 360-degrees Leti Resort in Uttaranchal, India, synthesising local craftsmanship with contemporary design for bungalow suites and grounds with sweeping views of the Himalayas. Hong Kong's Edge Design, founded by architect Gary Chang, won an award for its realisation of The Organic Pharmacy stores in Hong Kong. 'The interior design of cosmetic shops is usually much more magnificent,' says DFA Award judge Kuan Chen-neng of the winning design. 'But this one stresses science and service. Speaking of the storage of samples, as well as self-service, this design allows people to pick what they want in a very free and relaxed environment.' In Japan's mature market - to borrow the philosophy of this year's Design Leadership Award-winning company Muji - 'good design speaks for itself'. Under the direction of its president, Tadamitsu Matsui, Muji bounced back from its 2001 slump, registering double-digit growth for four consecutive years. Although Muji often employs such design heavy-hitters as couture's Yohji Yamamoto to work on specific product lines, it never credits the designer's name to a particular product, putting the emphasis on the design itself. As Hong Kong simultaneously pushes for recognition as an innovative design hub, and shakes off its reputation as copy central, established local designers play their part in HKDC's redoubled efforts to promote Hong Kong talent overseas. Projects such as Creation 9707 have the marketability to bring Hong Kong design forward.