DMatters December 2022 Issue
DIVING DEEP INTO DESIGN
with Dr Joseph Wong, Executive Director of HKDCWhile ESG, or environmental, social, and governance, has gone from being a nice-to-have to a must-have for organisations across sectors, I consider DSG, my own acronym for ‘Design for Social Good’ to be of no less importance. Design can spur behavioural change and foster a more sustainable community, especially when we are designing better solutions to our most pressing challenges from climate change, urbanisation to better quality of life. And through ‘good’ designs, be it from zero-emission electric vehicles that reduce air pollution, physical movement monitors on mobile phones that helps prevent dangerous falls, or 3D-printed homes that ease housing shortage, designers can engage all levels of the society to bring about positive change on a massive scale.
Design, apart from having the innate power to solve problems, also has a forward thinking and visionary end. Design can turn innovative ideas into reality, whether it’s a product, service or technology that prepares us for future challenges and enhances our social well-being. With the ability to influence the way we live in so many ways, designers have both the power and the responsibility to do social good and to improve the world we all live in.
With the ability to influence the way we live in so many ways, designers have both the power and the responsibility to do social good and to improve the world we all live in.
If you’re looking for an example of how design empowers sustainable solutions, the works by Dutch architect Dr Koen Olthuis, CEO Architect of Waterstudio.NL and speaker of our Business of Design Week (BODW) 2022, is a good place to start. To tackle the harsh reality of climate change and urbanisation, he creates floating architecture to help humans live on water. ‘If we want to be ready for the future, we have to change cities from static cities to dynamic cities,’ he said in his panel. One of his signature works is the ‘Maldives Floating City’ project – the world’s first and biggest floating city comprising 5,000 housing units along with hotels, shops and a world-class marina, forming a mixed-use community while protecting the marine ecosystem and coral reefs with ecological best practices.
If we want to be ready for the future, we have to change cities from static cities to dynamic cities.
‘Maldives Floating City’ is the first and biggest floating city in the world, creating blue habitats and stimulating coral growth.
Among other pioneering projects that help address environmental-related challenges are those by French multidisciplinary designer Antoine Besseyre des Horts, leader of LIXIL Global Design Asia and another BODW 2022 speaker. Leveraging sophisticated technologies, LIXIL develops products that facilitate water conservation and minimise wastage. Highlights include the award-winning American Standard Genie pressure booster hand shower to cope with water pressure and water scarcity issues often experienced in developing parts of Asia, and the innovative Grohe Blue water system that provides filtered water straight from the kitchen faucet. The latter eliminates the use of up to 800 plastic water bottles for an average family of four every year and reduces CO2 emissions by up to 60% compared to bottled water. ‘To be and stay relevant, brands must tackle sustainability,’ remarks Antoine. ‘In some regions, sustainability is a choice; in some others, we have to do a lot of education; and in some others, it's actually a necessity. Different need states mean that there needs to be different solutions,’ he adds.
In some regions, sustainability is a choice; in some others, we have to do a lot of education; and in some others, it's actually a necessity. Different need states mean that there needs to be different solutions.
The award-winning pressure booster hand shower ‘Genie’ by American Standard. (Photo by LIXIL)
Grohe Blue water system provides filtered water straight from the kitchen faucet. (Photo by LIXIL)
These designers empower the shift to more sustainable systemic practices, together with numerous other design visionaries from BODW 2022 themed 'Design for Change'. I encourage you to become a member of bodw+, our online design knowledge platform, to watch over 30 sessions on-demand or tune in to ViuTV Channel 99 to watch the Summit highlights on 7 January 2023 at 7:30pm.
In Hong Kong, designers across generations have also been striving to make positive societal impacts. In this issue of DMatters, we talk to three newly announced winners of the DFA Hong Kong Young Design Talent Award about their amazing works and perspectives on responsible design. The curators of Design Spectrum's latest exhibition ‘always’ will also share their enthusiasm for sustainability that goes beyond green.
Building a better future requires a concerted effort – let’s join hands to harness the power of design to do more good for society!
Dr Joseph Wong
Hong Kong Design Centre