As the prospects of the design industry remains unpredictable in the new year, BODW will hopefully bring back the unified sense of community for design practitioners that are constantly on the lookout for ingenuity and collaborations. Image Courtesy of Hong Kong Design Centre.
Business of Design Week is amongst a handful of events that put Hong Kong and its design community under the limelight. After a one-year hiatus, the highly anticipated year-end event is pushing forward amid the ongoing global health crisis and travel restrictions, curating a star-studded hybrid edition that posits design thinking and creativity as the silver lining for 2021 and beyond.
TEXT: Kate Lok
IMAGES: Courtesy of Hong Kong Design Centre
Business of Design Week (BODW), Hong Kong’s flagship event on design, innovation and brands, is returning at the end of this month with a hybrid virtual-physical edition. In times of change and ambiguity brought about by an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the event will be conducted under the overarching theme of “VISION 20/21” in a series of dialogues and satellite events that seek impetus and imagine new possibilities for 2021 and beyond.
Spanning from 30 November to 5 December, the occasion will feature more than 100 local and international design and business leaders in a series of plenary talks, forums and master classes. An impressive line-up from the design and architecture industry, including Thomas Heatherwick, André Fu, Sou Fujimoto and Tim Brown, will be putting forward their thoughts on timely topics about branding, health, travel, circular economy, tech, creative leadership, spatial design, communication, culture and more.
The agenda of this year’s BODW is set to find clarity in uncertainty, to provide valuable and timely insights into future trends, and inspire participants to discover a new vision of success in the new normal. Pushing beyond the usual setting of the programme, BODW 2020 aims to bring about a new experience in traditional business networking and exchange of ideas.
“Beyond virtual, LIVE global experience” is key to this year’s BODW experience. The BODW Summit, which will happen between 3 and 5 December, will be Asia’s first hybrid event of its kind, simulcasting via multiple channels to provide more options for participating, especially for its international audiences.
For the first time, BODW has partnered up with local broadcaster ViuTV on sessions of the Summit, which will be produced for streaming on BODW’s customised virtual platform. Selected sessions will also be aired on ViuTV’s channels, live streamed on social media, and screened at partner locations. The platform is also optimised to facilitate virtual meet-ups and live chats, allowing participants to build new connections despite the lack of physical networking events.
The Summit will be followed by a series of partner satellite events and the BODW CityProg, taking place from 28 November to 6 December, in a string of design-related happenings throughout the city, including the annual deTour festival, hosted by PMQ, and HKTDC’s yearly creative showcase DesignInspire, which will go entirely online this year.
After what has been a rather dormant year, there is a palpable sense of excitement for the return of one of the most anticipated year-end events for the city’s design community. “When I moved to Hong Kong six years ago, [BODW] was one of the first big public events that’s design-related, and I was very inspired [by] it.” says Elaine Ng Yan Ling, Founder of THE FABRICK LAB and a speaker at this year’s summit. Ng, who has been involved as a speaker since 2014, looks forward to reconnecting with the global design community. “To get the chance or the opportunity to be able to have genuine dialogue between the people that’s in your field of work is really special.”
The shift from an in-person affair to a multi-channel hybrid event, the first time since the first iteration of BODW in 2002, is a testimony to the adaptability the city is known for. While the pandemic has limited the capacity for physical gatherings, turning towards a hybrid format has, in some ways, added to the programme’s international appeal. Professor Eric Yim, Chairman of Hong Kong Design Centre, is convinced that this new format will bring about new dynamics. “It’s not very often you get to gather so many great names from the same discipline from multiple continents. This really is the beauty of an online event.”
Business and networking aside, hosting an event that promotes innovative thinking demonstrates a timely response to the current times, and BODW is looking to provide the much needed space for constructive and ground-breaking propositions. “We can take this chance to tell people how we can utilise design to face our difficulties. So there really is no reason to avoid [the event],” says Yim. “With a virtual edition, we are able to connect with more people, which goes hand-in-hand with our mission to promote wider and strategic use of design and design thinking.”
His view was echoed by Dr. Edmund Lee, Executive Director of Hong Kong Design Centre. “The great response we had with KODW (Knowledge of Design Week) in August made us realise the potential of a digital event. The overall gloomy atmosphere of the last year makes promoting design and a creative mindset all the more important. This is a great example of how we practice what we preach—coming up with a strategic and practical solution to this event in times of physical restrictions. The entire planning by our team is thought out based on what we’re trying to promote—creativity and design thinking.”
In an intimate, socially-distanced launch event earlier this month, Paul Priestman, designer, co-founder & Chairman of global design consultancy PriestmanGoode, delivered a hopeful keynote via Zoom, “This is where design and creativity really does make a difference. How we instil that creative thinking in all areas of business, not just in design. And I think that’s the great thing about what BODW is building. It’s creating an energy, but also an optimism that can transcend [not] just the design area and into all forms of business. Creativity is the key to solving problems, [and] design is not just about making things look beautiful.”
As the prospects of the design industry remains unpredictable in the new year, BODW will hopefully bring back the unified sense of community for design practitioners that are constantly on the lookout for ingenuity and collaborations. Michael Young, Director of Michael Young Studio and a speaker of BODW 2020, pointed out, “During this period, [events like BODW] is extremely important because I think it gives people inspiration or to keep on thinking, keeping engaged. Unless we take notice of how [we] co-exist together, it’s really hard to get a unified sense of the future.”
Business of Design Week 2020 30 November – 5 December 2020
Format: Hybrid live
Language: English, Cantonese and Putonghua (with simultaneous interpretation)
Registration and Tickets: www.bodw.com/cobosocial
About Hong Kong Design Centre Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC) is a non-governmental organisation, and was founded in 2001 as a strategic partner of the HKSAR Government in establishing Hong Kong as an international centre of design excellence in Asia. The public mission of HKDC is to promote wider and strategic use of design and design thinking to create business value and improve societal well-being, with the aim of advancing Hong Kong as an international design centre in Asia. Learn more at www.hkdesigncentre.org