Montreal (Canada) – The Icsid Board of Directors has provisionally approved three new promotional memberships from Brazil, China and Norway. While they are diverse in region, structure and demographics they all share the same goal of using industrial design-driven innovation to create better business and industry, and ultimately a better environment and society. Read on to find out more about Icsid’s newest members, their current projects and how they hope to connect with the Icsid network.

Q: Please share an introduction to your organisation and some of the key projects you are currently undertaking.

Centro Brasil Design Claudia Ishikawa, Project Coordinator

The Brazilian Design Center is an organisation specialised in idealising, developing and implementing strategic projects and design processes for industry and governmental organisations, with the aim of improving competitiveness and the economic and social development of Brazil.

Two of our most successful projects are ‘Design Export’, an unprecedented programme that supports Brazilian companies in developing innovative products with unique design aimed at exportation. The objective is to inject simple, didactic and objective methodology into the domestic industry and guide companies in using design and innovation for business development. By bringing business executives and design professionals together, the programme hopes to provide this service to 100 innovations by 2015.

‘Paraná Innovative by Design’ (Innovation and competitiveness for your business) is a project that brings design culture to businesses in the state of Paraná. The programme helps companies identify opportunities for innovation and help search for design offices that are adapted to the company’s profiles, therefore facilitating the creation of competitive and successful products.

Shanghai Promotion Center for City of Design Dr. Pan Jin, Vice Secretary General

After joining the UNESCO ‘Creative Cities Network’, Shanghai required a bridge organisation to fully understand policy, take initiative and carry out implementation. Our organisation is supervised by the Shanghai Municipal Commission for Economy and Informatisation and is a working agency for the UNESCO ‘Creative City’ (Shanghai) Promotion Office. Our task is to promote the organisational structure of the city of design, and upgrade industries through the mobilisation of all related sectors.

Our two most successful projects are Shanghai Design Week and Shanghai Design Map. The Design map is published in order to make design more accessible for the general public so that people living in the city can focus on, participate in and enjoy design.

We also focus on a number of other initiatives including ‘Shanghai Design Goes Global’ which encourages domestic enterprises to be involved in international exhibitions and fairs and help them explore overseas markets. It has become a highly effective way to multiply city influence. We have also established five creative talent-training bases in cooperation with universities and colleges in Shanghai.

The Norwegian Centre for Design and Architecture Jan R. Stavik, Director

The Norwegian Design Council (NDC) celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2013, and as such was one of Europe’s oldest design councils. NDC was funded by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MITI) and was part of MITI’s Business Support System. Norsk Form celebrated its 20th anniversary last year and was funded by the Ministry of Culture. In May 2013, the Norwegian Government decided to merge the two organisations, which were both Icsid Members, into a new foundation, called the Norwegian Center for Design and Architecture.  The rationale behind the merger was primarily to create a closer cooperation between the two previous organisations’ design agendas (business and societal, respectively) and also to obtain synergy between design and architecture.  The merger formally took place 1 May 2014.  With a staff of almost 40 people and an annual budget of about $ 12 – 13 million USD we are presently Europe’s largest organisation of this kind. The impetus was to establish, inform and initiate how design and architecture can be used to improve industries’ competitiveness, public sector efficiency, user focus, and finally benefit society at large.  Further details will be decided through the on-going process of refining a strategy for the new foundation.

Q: As Icsid continues its yearlong campaign and fact-finding mission to discuss the definition of industrial design today, can you share your organisations’ definition of industrial design?

CI: We currently use the Icsid definition.

XZ: Since the issuance of ‘Guidance Opinions on Promoting Industrial Design’ by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology together with 10 other ministries and commissions in 2010, the development of industrial design has been receiving increased attentions at national, provincial and municipal levels.

From the guidelines:
Industrial design defines industrial products as the main object, integrated with scientific and technological achievements and engineering, aesthetics, psychology, economics and other knowledge, and as a creative activity of integrating and optimizing the products function, structure, shape and package. The core essence of industrial design is product design, which widely used in light industry, textile, machinery, electronic information industry, etc. Industrial design is an important part of the productive service industry. The development level of industrial design is regarded as a significant symbol of modern industrial competitiveness. The development of industrial design is essential to enrich the variety of products, enhance the added value of the products and build up autonomous brands. It is also an effective way to enhance industrial competitiveness, transform the mode of economic development as well as meet the objective requirements of expanding consumption demand.

JS: So far in the strategy process we have not spent time on this favourite topic of discussion for designers, but personally I tend to like the definition used by the UK Design Council (Sir George Cox’s review of creativity in business):

“Creativity is the generation of new ideas; innovation is the successful exploitation of new ideas; Design links creativity and innovation.  It shapes ideas to become practical and attractive propositions for users and customers.”

Q: What is your view of the current design environment in your country?

CI: We have just finished the translation of the Diagnostic Review of Design in Brazil. You can download the document and find the most up to date panorama about design in Brazil.

The service and industrial sectors, the government and society as a whole, have been keen to resolve issues related to sustainability. Each one is working independently and many actions have been developed and implemented. There is a concern from the government and private sector industries regarding catching up to the international legislation on sustainability, focusing on minimising the environmental impact through processes, products, packaging and materials and reducing pollution. The market is also absorbing these initiatives and the everyday consumer is becoming more aware of the importance of sustainability in their purchasing habits.

XZ: Shanghai is now leveraging a great opportunity to develop the creative industries since China has confronted the tasks of economic transformation and manufacturing upgrades. With this background, the creative design industry is becoming a significant tool to stimulate the economy and consumption. The Shanghai design industry has developed substantially since Shanghai joined the UNESCO Creative City Network and was nominated as a ‘City of Design’ in 2010. The total added value of Shanghai creative industries is ¥ 250 billion RMB, up by 10.1% over that of the previous year, accounting for 11.5% of Shanghai’s GDP. As of 2013, over 1.3 million people work in the design industry or a related field.

Shanghai currently has one of the largest creative industry clusters in terms of scale across the world, with 87 creative industry parks covering 3.36 million square meters. Old plants and warehouses with unique architectural style and historical values have been renovated and given new purpose as displays and studios, attracting creative companies and talents from over 30 countries and regions across the world.

JS: The biggest change since I left the corporate world to join the Norwegian Design Council 15 years ago, is that, at the turn of the century, we focused solely on finding ways of informing and convincing industry of the value of design, and then to teach industry how to use design as a tool for innovation. The innovation agenda for design is still very important, but there is no doubt that we are getting more and more involved with the public sector in order to improve efficiency to combat the undisputed fact that the public sector needs to become more user friendly. Together with this development, we see an increasing tendency to apply design thinking and design processes to find new and better solutions to societal challenges. Running parallel is also a rapidly increasing focus on service design.

I think it is correct to say that the present situation is very much dominated by the development described above; that is an increasing focus on the application of design to solve (or at least improve) industry, public sector and society’s economical and non-economical challenges. This gives us as an organisation a huge agenda, ranging from traditional industrial design product innovation to assisting the authorities to improve the national health service.

I am an Icsid member because…

CI: Our work is based on relationships, network and partnerships. We believe that in working together, we can make design stronger and better understood in many different areas, sectors and situations.

XZ: We would like to promote exchanges between Icsid Members, share more about the latest ideas and trends in industrial design, seek possibilities for joint projects or business opportunities with key professionals, and contribute to the development of Icsid.

JS: The new foundation will remain a member of Icsid primarily to maintain and develop the global network, which an Icsid Membership gives us, thus enabling us to exchange information with – and seek best practice cases from – colleagues all over the world.