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Driven by Design

  Fashion Visionaries Exhibition
 

The Fashion Visionaries Exhibition is an event highlight of Hong Kong Design Year

Innovation through design is the byword of 2012 in Hong Kong, as the city gears up to promote the power of design in business and the community. Presented by CreateHK and organised by the Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC), more than 35 design-focused events, featuring local and international talent, will be held throughout the year. 

“We’re promoting the big D. We’re not talking about product aesthetics,” said HKDC Executive Director Edmund Lee. “We’re thinking about our approach to address business or environmental issues to provide better services.” 

“A City Driven by Design” is the theme of the year-long promotion, which involves both the private and public sectors. It will feature such events as the Fashion Visionaries Exhibition, Toys Paradise – Creativity and Toy Culture of Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture. 

Master Talk Series

 One of the most-visited public spaces in North America, Millennium Park attracted some 3.65 million  

One of the most-visited public spaces in North America, Millennium Park attracted some 3.65 million visitors in 2010, sparking a new way of thinking about the use of public outdoor space

 
One of the signature events, HKDY Master Talks, kicks off next week (23 March). It will feature Edward Uhlir, Executive Director of Chicago’s Millennium Park Inc, as well as Cheryl Kent, author of Millennium Park Chicago. One of the most-visited public spaces in North America, Millennium Park attracted some 3.65 million visitors in 2010, and has sparked a new way of thinking about the use of public outdoor space. 

“We want to understand how such a frequently visited park in America has been integrated into the environment. We can learn a lot from a master architect and planner,” Mr Lee said. “People who visit Millennium Park go not just to enjoy nature but also culture. So the whole thing is integrated.”  

Hong Kong Design Year targets professionals and others looking to raise their understanding of design’s impact on the economy, the environment, culture, education and society in general. 

“It’s not a question of are we ready to capture the opportunities presented by the creative economy,” Mr Lee said. “We are already in the era of the creative economy. The main gist of the creative economy is the ability to create value across professions and disciplines.” 

SMEs Benefit from Design

  Edmund Lee
  Edmund Lee, Executive Director, Hong Kong Design Centre
The initiative also highlights the importance of creating value in business through innovation and design. “Design thinking is there to help address many complex dimensions to provide design-led solutions,” Mr Lee said. 

“If you forever view design as a company expenditure, then you will keep it at the working level,” Mr Lee said. “But if you acknowledge the strategic use of design within the organisation, then you see value coming in – just as other  companies have, including Apple, Cathay Pacific, Li & Fung – which is all about designing the logistic system and workflow efficiency.” Mr Lee also cited the Octopus, the Hong Kong smart-card system as another example of a local innovation that has become an integral part of the community. 

“The differentiator between why some products and services create long-lasting value to people is that the companies have taken a holistic approach.” To illustrate those themes, the HKDC recently undertook a pilot project redesigning the Mong Kok Post Office to improve operations and its user-friendliness. 

Going Postal

A pilot project redesigning the Mong Kok Post Office was undertaken to improve operations and its us   

A pilot project redesigning the Mong Kok Post Office was undertaken to improve operations and its user-friendliness

 
“We looked at the entire workflow of the postal service, involving all staff from ground level to the director. We took into account worker feedback, in terms of their work environment, how to reduce occupational hazards, how to create a more stimulating staff environment, and how to improve interface between staff and customers.” The next few months will be spent evaluating staff and customer experience to see if the redesign can serve as a blueprint for future post offices. 

Such projects will be highlighted at a public forum later this month. Local designers, including Prudence Mak, Creative Director of Chocolate Rain, will take part in the event, which will highlight design’s importance to the community. 

Taking Design to the Market

  Professor Tak Lee (left), Associate Dean (External Relations), School of Design, The Hong Kong Polyt 
 

Professor Tak Lee (left), Associate Dean (External Relations), School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University; and Dr Timothy Jachna, Associate Dean (Academic Programmes) School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University 

In line with the Design Year initiative, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) in January unveiled plans to set up a centre focused on commercialising design concepts. Designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid, the 15-storey Innovation Tower is expected to be completed next year. 

The Design Institute for Social Innovation will serve as a “third space for certain projects to be realised that would not otherwise come to reality,” according to Dr Timothy Jachna, Associate Dean of the PolyU’s School of Design. 

“Good ideas that are perhaps not ready for commercialisation – these are the kinds of ideas that we want to nurture, to help develop into something that can be lifted into commercialisation,” Dr Jachna said.

Inspiring Get Inspired

The Design Institute for Social Innovation, designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid, is expected t   
The Design Institute for Social Innovation, designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid, is expected to be completed next year  
In December, Hong Kong Design Year will culminate in Business of Design Week, a key event in the international design calendar. Denmark will showcase its design excellence as Partner Country, and the event will feature high-profile speakers from around the world. 

Mr Lee said overseas input, a crucial advantage of Hong Kong’s creative landscape, helps local designers find new inspiration. “We expose our local designers to broader applications, to enrich their resourcefulness and expose them to more business opportunities.” 

Mr Lee said the centre will continue building on the momentum of Hong Kong Design Year long after 2012. “We want this to be a memorable year and help cultivate a design vision in the community.” 

Related Links
Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC)
Hong Kong Design Year 
Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU)

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