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HKDC Promotes Human-centred Design

Edmund Lee

More than ever, design has moved to the forefront of Hong Kong life, and the Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC) has played a pivotal role in making that happen.

Just as the art scene has taken off in Hong Kong with the arrival of celebrated art shows and big-name galleries in the city, so too has the design industry, with events such as Business of Design Week (BODW) and Knowledge of Design Week (KODW) being pivotal shows not only in Asia but also globally. HKDC is at the forefront of all things design-related in the city as the organiser of these events and other design-related initiatives such as the Design for Asia (DFA) awards. HKDC Executive Director Edmund Lee is upbeat about the future of design in the city.

HKDC acts as adviser to the government on all things design-related. Tell us about that role.
HKDC promotes wider and strategic use of good design and design thinking around Hong Kong, placing the aspirations, well-being and needs of its people and citizens at the centre of our efforts. We should all learn how to better frame challenges, adopt design thinking and use them to create more human-centred innovation and opportunities for good design that endears people.

The results of the annual DFA awards will be announced in November. How has this award evolved since it was introduced in 2003?
Every year, we receive an increasing number of entries from all over the world for projects realised in Asia, so we have been tracking design trends across a broad spectrum of areas annually. It’s obvious that design projects related to environment and space are growing in significance due to rising opportunities in this part of the world, such as the revitalisation of heritage sites, activation of public spaces and the re-defining of spaces for the future of work, retail and living. It’s also clear from the entries that there is growing sophistication in the use of design and a shift in consumerism that embraces culture, trends and more widespread use of digital technologies.

You run two incubation programmes – the Design Incubation Programme (DIP) and Fashion Incubation Programme (FIP). Tell us about the support they offer to fledgling designers.
We are committed to nurturing local talents and advancing entrepreneurship through DIP and FIP. While DIP appeals to a broader range of designers or design entrepreneurs across different sectors, FIP is more geared towards advancing young fashion brands. As these platforms offer designers access to studio space with financial support for marketing, technical support and learning, both have proven to be very popular. Apart from the provision of studio spaces and marketing support, there are many opportunities for designers to meet mentors from business and professional sectors in small groups or one-on-one, and the opportunity to network.

You organise BODW and KODW, both important dates on the international design calendar. How important have these events been in raising the profile of Hong Kong as a design hub?
These are the signature programmes of HKDC, cultivating creative mindsets and better use of design to benefit our city, economy and how we live. The internationally renowned speakers and curated nature of the programmes enable us to bring in cutting-edge, design-led developments into Hong Kong, and to foster learning and exchange particularly for the audience in this part of the world.

As BODW is an even more substantive international programme, it has grown in significance and attractiveness for economies from around the world, which are building connections with Asia through this programme. Its curated approach ensures each BODW covers a wide array of areas in which design can make impact – from education and design leadership to communications and culture in the city.

Your vision is to establish Hong Kong as a centre of design excellence in Asia. How successful do you think you’ve been in achieving that?
There has been growing co-operation in design-led developments. We need to continue to step up our efforts to ensure design thinking and good design are embraced in Hong Kong. HKDC, along with many other design champions, has led the Chief Executive to fully embrace good design and design thinking for all in her maiden policy address last year.

How has the Hong Kong design scene changed in the past year or so and how do you expect it to change?
The entire design scene is becoming more vibrant, with many substantive projects like the West Kowloon Cultural District, Tai Kwun, PMQ, The Mills and the Mei Ho House Revitalisation Project in Shek Kip Mei. Hong Kong’s annual calendar is also buzzing with major programmes across art, film, music, design, innovation and technology – all substantive platforms for the cross-fertility of ideas. With the high-speed rail link and Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, we are planting great opportunities for enhancing the creative vibe and fostering new exchanges, which could open up further creative and business opportunities for Hong Kong.

Related Links
Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC)




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