Adding business element to design
In the past, collaboration between the local design industry and businesses in the SAR was minimal and the government did little to promote joint-efforts between the two sectors - but that is changing now, Freeman Lau, chairman of the Hong Kong Design Centre, said in an interview with China Daily .
"Over the last 40 years, Hong Kong's design industry has seen steady progress and achieved international standards.
"The government is promoting more joint efforts between the manufacturing and design industries, and this is why we have established the Hong Kong Design Centre with HK$250 million in government funds to support the local design industry's long-term development," says Lau.
Currently, the school is introducing a number of advanced programmes, including a masters degree programme for local designers.
Lau also revealed that Hong Kong would host a six-day international design exhibition in November, aimed at providing a platform for top designers from all over the world to exchange ideas.
"The concept of 'Lifestyle Asia' for the Business of Design Week was created last year. It is an international event comprising a forum of international speakers to share their insights on all design disciplines.
"This year, we will focus on the relationship between design and business in Asia," he says.
Now in its third consecutive year, the Business of Design Week will be built around specific topics such as "Design for Living" and "Innovation and Technology"; and design councils from around the world will have exhibits alongside local design organizations, including the Hong Kong Chartered Society of Designers and the Hong Kong Designers Association.
"Through the Lifestyle Asia Concept, we want to demonstrate the close relationship between design and business.
"Design happens throughout an entire spectrum of business activities, from conceptualization to manufacturing processes, and product packaging to sales strategy. A good design will enable businesses to increase profits and enhance their corporate image," Lau explains.
The exhibition will bring to the city some of world's greatest designers.
"We want to concentrate more on Hong Kong and the mainland this year.
"Local designers will have many opportunities to interact with their counterparts from the mainland, including representatives from Beijing and the Guangzhou Academy of Arts, who will be participating in a variety of shows with more than 1,000 delegates from countries like Sweden and Thailand."
This year's "Lifestyle Asia" will also feature a design map of the city, introducing little known design locations, novelty shops, restaurants and local architecture to overseas delegates.
"We want to introduce to members of the general public and designers from abroad, interesting locales that offer inspiration for creative design with this design map, which is the result of a collaboration between the Wanchai District Board, the Tourism Board and the Hong Kong Design Centre."
When asked about the future of Hong Kong's design industry, Lau says he has his sights firmly set north of the border.
"Hong Kong offers a wealth of potential, international experience and creativity, and we can bring these advantages to the mainland. The demand from the mainland for professional designers is increasing, and closer ties with the mainland are inevitable."
While the mainland market beckons, Lau says local designers must concentrate efforts on establishing distinctive brand names for Hong Kong as well.
"We must develop our own brands and improve our products, and local designers should start by helping the small and medium enterprises here create internationally-recognised brand names to enhance their competitiveness. The local market is too small; our future success rests with the mainland, where we can expand our ideas and put them to fruition."
Lau says the Hong Kong Design Centre will continue to push forward efforts to promote the city as the region's design hub.
"The Hong Kong Design Centre will continue to push forward more co-operation with the mainland and provide opportunities for young designers in the territory to gain experience there, while providing a platform for positive exchange."
(HK Edition 09/10/2004 page16)
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