DMatters March 2023 Issue

with Dr Joseph Wong, Executive Director of HKDC

From the ways we do things to the values we share, culture is a way of life. Through design, we reimagine new ways of living. I believe design influences culture, generating synergies and propelling us to a more resilient and beautiful community.

In Hong Kong, as the city progresses into an East-meets-West centre for international cultural exchange driven by the government, the role that design plays has never been more vital. Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC) is all for this initiative and to accelerate the process, we consider it is essential to foster the development of the design industry and economy.

A city’s future lies in the hands of its next generation.  We have long been dedicating our efforts to nurture a diversified talent pool and to support design entrepreneurs in the broadest possible way.

DFA Hong Kong Young Design Talent Award (DFA HKYDTA) backs emerging young talents to study or work overseas, bringing back with them international elements to our local design industry, while the Design Incubation Programme (DIP) and Fashion Incubation Programme (FIP) offer financial support and mentorship to help creative startups shape up their labels. To nurture and sustain a cultural and creative ecosystem in the community, we are working to make Sham Shui Po a new design and creative district where HKDC is soon to be relocated in 2024, further boosting the city’s profile as a hub for cultural exchange. Over half of BODW City Programme (CityProg)’s anchor site festivals in 2022 and 2023 have already taken on Sham Shui Po as a key hub, with exciting plans for HKDC’s new design and fashion base to serve as a creative anchor and host more activities that facilitate the development of cultural industries.

Around the world, design preserves, promotes and creates cultural values for the community. A winning project of the Gold Award at DFA Design for Asia Awards (DFAA) 2022, the Chuan Malt Whisky Distillery by Neri&Hu Design and Research Office is a great case in point. Situated at Mount Emei, a UNESCO world heritage site, the distillery shows respect to vernacular architecture, making use of locally reclaimed clay tiles to build the pitched roofs. Traditional Chinese philosophies, like the yin-yang concept inspired by the duality of the site’s mountain-water landscape, are infused with a modern touch. ‘Besides a deep appreciation for the site's natural resources, the project is also an embodiment of the refined sense of artistry embedded in whisky-making and blending, which is in dialogue with traditional Chinese craftsmanship and knowledge of materials,’ said the design firm.

Situated at Mount Emei, the Chuan Malt Whisky Distillery reflects the essence of traditional Chinese philosophies that govern the human-nature interactions.

In a broader sense, a design economy can bring significant cultural values and boost Hong Kong’s pursuit of economic and environmental goals.

With globally acclaimed platforms for creative leaders and entrepreneurs to exchange ideas and explore new business opportunities, such as HKDC’s annual flagship event Business of Design Week (BODW) and design knowledge platform bodw+, the overall competitiveness of the city can be further enhanced.

With a new cultural positioning upon us, we need a new culture of circular design and innovation to ensure sustainability and resilience. Look no further than Dutch works that have pioneered a holistic view of design. Bart Ahsmann, Managing Director of CLICKNL and BODW 2022 speaker, runs a network that facilitates large-scale partnerships and crossovers that spark meaningful social innovations. Its programme ‘IDOLS’ (Increasing Demand by Offering LearningS) gathers multiple stakeholders, comprising the public, private, creative, design and cultural sectors, to co-create solutions for various social challenges with ageing being one of them. Informal Care Simulator from Muzus enables people to experience in a confronting way what informal care means and explore the topic from different perspectives. ‘Design connects the parties and makes things happen,’ Bart said in the Design Policy Conversations panel. At BODW 2023, together with our event’s partner country, the Netherlands, we will dive deeper into how we can drive change through circular design principles and collaborations with Dutch creative businesses.

One of the IDOLS projects, the Informal Care Simulator from Muzus enables people to explore the ageing topic from different perspectives.

In this issue of DMatters, we talk to three participating design companies of CityProg’s ‘Design !n Action’ programme and three creative talents from DIP to explore how culture is shaped through design in their projects. Empowering the design sector requires the support of all stakeholders, and we are passionate about working with more local and overseas partners to support Hong Kong's development as a vibrant cultural centre.

Dr Joseph Wong
Executive Director
Hong Kong Design Centre