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Hong Kong Design Year

A full year of events intended to let Hong Kong stake a stronger claim as Asia’s creative hub is currently underway. Ben McCarthy reports.

Hong Kong Design Year


March 30th, 2012

In a move to point the spotlight towards Hong Kong’s creative assets, the Hong Kong Government has designated 2012 as ‘Hong Kong Design Year’ (HKDY).

As Executive Director of the Hong Kong Design Centre (the organising body behind HKDY), Dr Edmund Lee explains, “We want this year to carry a rich programme of events, but we also want to make this year more meaningful to cultivate a design vision for Hong Kong, going forward as a progressive creative city.”

Coupled with the global economic sway towards China, and Hong Kong’s fortuitous geography, the government believes the city is poised to become a larger global destination for design. And what it tends to lack in general creative cultural energy, it makes up for as an accessible and cosmopolitan city within China, with legitimate assets for creative start-ups.


The thinking behind HKDY is to promote design as a profitable industry to those not associated with it, as a career path to younger people, and to celebrate it as an academic and socially valuable trade.

But Dr Lee also hopes HKDY will reach beyond this, and “make the public more aware that design is relevant to everyday life”.


Chinese designers Song Tao, Shao Fan and Nathan Liu in dialogue at Business of Design Week (BODW), a much-emphasised event held in Hong Kong last year.

While all this seems so grand it borders on vague, there is certainly merit in the added resource given to universities, and the international programmes designed to expose the benefits here. “Whatever we do we’d like to enhance the resourcefulness of our designers to better understand the market developments,” says Dr Lee.

In a city that changes faster than most, perhaps this is the moment for Hong Kong to establish itself as a fertile ground for creative thinking. Time will tell what benefits are to be had by a year-long programme, but as Dr Lee asserts, “Hong Kong itself is a small place, but we are in a strong position.”

Top image: Freeman Lau at BODW. Lau is the Vice Chairman of Hong Kong Design Centre

Hong Kong Design Centre

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