DMatters December 2020 Issue

The global crisis of 2020 has overwhelmed us not only with its magnitude but also the universal vulnerability it exposed. Looking ahead to 2021, we need collaborative creativity to help us refocus our vision, refresh our impetus and reimagine new possibilities based on our real needs and what truly matters. With the theme "VISION 20/21", Business of Design Week (BODW) was successfully held from 30 November to 5 December and inspired international participants with timely insights into the new normal, gathering more than 100 design and business leaders from all over the world.

BODW has been known as Asia’s flagship event on design, innovation and brands since 2002. This year, we pioneered a brand-new hybrid LIVE format to provide a "Beyond virtual, LIVE global" experience. For the first time ever, we streamed the BODW Summit online for international audiences to watch on our customised virtual platform, social media and at BODW CitySalon partner locations. In addition, we teamed up with ViuTV to simulcast selected sessions on its channels, taking design to every household in Hong Kong. Our virtual networking platform also saw enthusiastic interactions among participants who were making the most of BODW to expand their networks and explore collaboration opportunities.

BODW 2020 pioneered a brand-new hybrid LIVE format to provide a "Beyond virtual, LIVE global" experience

More than 50 BODW sessions in the form of plenary talks, forums and masterclasses delved into a range of broad-based topical issues. The "Designing Tomorrow’s Travel Experience" forum gathered 3 international innovators together to envision future travel with mobility and hospitality innovations. Paul Priestman, Designer, Co-founder and Chairman of global design consultancy PriestmanGoode, believes the future of transports is human-centric, planet-centric and connected. "Easing passengers' journeys and making them contactless will be key to the design of big airports and stations, making journeys secure and safe but also seamless and enjoyable because we've got to bring that enjoyment back into travel," he said.

Paul Priestman envisioned the future of mobility

Luxury travel pioneer Belmond's Senior Vice President – Brand and Marketing Arnaud Champenois said, "Good design defines authentic experiences. As a heritage brand, we appreciate the importance of looking back and drive our learning from the past to the future. We are a custodian of world-precious heritage while at the same time, we build the heritage of the future." Lars Herold, CEO of Dromos Technologies AG, who is developing the revolutionary transport system Autonomous Network Transit, said, "The world is on the cusp of a major paradigm shift. It will be a tectonic shift for mass transportation. We're going from systems with massive vehicles to small nimble vehicles; from dedicated rails built for 100,000 people an hour to a smaller autonomous match-point configuration, with smaller lanes each for 10,000 people per hour, and the network branching out much more and going much closer to users."

In the "Circular Magic in Nature, People and Planet" forum, material innovators Lay Koon Tan, Co-founder of Nature Squared, and Elaine Yan Ling Ng, Founder of The Fabrick Lab, unpacked how they materialise the vision of circular economy by turning organic waste into stunning, exquisite materials. "We'd like people to look at waste differently. We'd like to redefine luxury. There is a strong perception that for something to be luxurious and valued, the raw material needs to be rare. That's the paradigm we're trying to break," said Lay Koon. Elaine revealed the pith of circular economy, "In circular making, it's really important to have people as one of the first priorities because people are talents. They bring important value into projects and they are the most important resources we have."

They (people) bring important value into projects and they are the most important resources we have.

Nature Squared turned organic materials into stunning, exquisite surfaces

World-famous art collective teamLab was featured in the "Immerse the Body, Create with Others, and Become One" forum. A team member speaking at BODW cast light on their landmark projects, including Flowers Bombing Home created in response to the pandemic. The virtual platform turns home televisions into a new media exhibition featuring flowers drawn by participants across the globe, letting people connect through an aesthetic experience. "What we want to say is, do not give up in this situation. Keep on creating things and make the world more beautiful," said teamLab’s representative. "As an art collective, we create things as a group, not as individual artists. That's what makes us unique."

What we want to say is, do not give up in this situation. Keep on creating things and make the world more beautiful.

Flowers Bombing Home by teamLab (© teamLab)

While many of us may only start thinking about our relationship with nature because of the pandemic, it has always been a core theme in Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto's practice. In the "Between Nature and Architecture" forum, he shed light on his architectural projects around the world, one of which is the organically shaped Cloud Tower in the Philippines. Describing its floating terraces as 'green porous skin' protecting the interior from the tropical climate, Fujimoto believes "this could become a new typology for future architecture. The climate condition is getting harsher and we need to think about the relationships between inside and outside. In addition to glass panels, plants, terraces and protective structures should be integrated into the 'skin' of an architecture."

Apartment complex L’Arbre Blanc (white tree) by Sou Fujimoto (© IWAN BAAN)

With a colourful portfolio of transforming public spaces with bold visuals, UK artist and designer Morag Myerscough threw light on boosting positivity in communities through design in the "A New Now" forum. "There's a danger of people predicting what people want as designers or artists. You think you know better than everybody, but you actually aren't until you really involve yourself in the community and start to listen to people's experience. We need to work with the people we're doing the work for - we should listen to people and then work together to make better works and improve our world."

We need to work with the people we're doing the work for - we should listen to people and then work together to make better works and improve our world.

"Make Happy Those Who Are Near and Those Who Are Far Will Come" pavilion at Hong Kong’s PMQ (Dec 2019) by Morag Myerscough

The insights and knowledge that converged in BODW's week of events are mind-blowing, and offer a glimpse into future business and innovation trends. To extend the impact beyond the event, this year we will grant global participants on-demand access to over 50 sessions (including masterclasses) starting 18 December, so that you can revisit BODW's content at your own pace. More details will be announced on the BODW website at In addition, a TV programme of BODW Summit highlights will be aired on ViuTV Channel 99 on 19 December 2020 at 19:30 – 20:00 GMT+8.

Another major highlight of BODW is a forum featuring creative forerunners of the DFA Awards. In this issue, we will take a look back at the DFA Forum in which some award recipients shared their design visions. We will check out the latest programmes of Design District Hong Kong (#ddHK) and BODW CityProg, both of which are HKDC's endeavours to reinvigorate public spaces and communities through design. We will also talk to the creative minds behind a series of play-themed workshops at Design Spectrum. Last but not least, we will learn how young designers are facing up to trying times from the 5 new design brands who joined the family of Fashion Incubation Programme (FIP) this August.

Further reading

More about BODW 2020

PriestmanGoode: A vision for tomorrow's air travel

In Conversation With Belmond's Arnaud Champenois

Dromos promises high-volume mass transit with electric autonomous vehicles

Upcycling: All-natural sustainable luxury design

The Fabrick Lab

teamlab: Flowers Bombing Home

Inside the Mind of Sou Fujimoto

Morag Myerscough: A New Now