International Design Week Forum

A WDC Signature Event, International Design Week Forum was organized by Ben Chiu and his team at Taiwan Designers’ Web and held at the Xue Xue Institute on 17 October and the Taipei Fine Arts Museum on 18 October.

The International Design Week Forum brought together organizers of design weeks from Beijing, Chiang Mai, Dubai, Eindhoven, Holon, London, Tokyo, Paris, Sydney, and other areas and countries including Hong Kong, Mexico, Singapore, and Taiwan, who shared ideas on how to overcome common challenges and developed strategies to share resources in future.

“I think that it’s important as design weeks that together we look into how we can strengthen the ties between the weeks, to make a network that is useful for our design communities,” said Ingrid Van der Wacht, International Projects Manager of Dutch Design Week.

During the Day 1 workshop at the Xue Xue, a local creative arts community college, art gallery and event space, the design week organizers addressed three topics:

  1. Promoting young design talent through design events;
  2. Challenges and opportunities in a global setting; and
  3. City marketing, what can design events do?

Participants addressed the ways in which they can better promote and service designers through their events. As the world becomes increasingly connected virtually, design events become less about visibility and exposure and more about matchmaking and mentorship. Design weeks need to invest in and generate new models for aspiring practitioners, providing information about career paths, exposing them to overall chain of production, perfecting their product, and navigating the economic, social and cultural value system relevant to design. It’s important to engage all stakeholders including industry, manufacturers, communicators and the public sector.

Participants asked how they can better connect beyond the sharing of information. Because the annual event calendar is full, with 53 design weeks in September alone, time management is a challenge. Unique content and differentiation

While face to face connections is still considered to be crucial in establishing trust and ensuring knowledge sharing, the Internet and social media have brought new tools for design events which can help build bridges between events, transnational partnerships, and long-term relationships between designers and companies.

Participants also addressed the need to reach beyond the usual design audience and bring design events to other industries, for example pairing with tech events, in order to expand the design event audience.

Sustainability was also seen as an opportunity. The need to repurpose  materials to ensure our temporary events become more sustainable as well as the need to present unique content to differentiate themselves.

Design weeks each have a different story to tell, unique to their cities. Participants explored areas for ensuring a city’s story is shared not only with the design community but also with the city’s residents. Storytelling is key to ensuring people identify with the event or festival. By connecting and engaging with a wide range of sectors including the tourist office, public sector, schools and citizens, design week and design event organizers can make sure to leave a lasting impression on the community.

During the public sessions on Day 2, the Design Week organizers spoke and answered questions to an audience of over 300 people about design and urban development, curating and planning design exhibitions, design trends, and how design exhibitions drive local design ecology and enrich the cultural fabric.

For more information on speakers and topics at the forum, visit: