Collective Connects August 2013

A Contemporary Festival and Design Promotion

For the public at large, design understanding and appreciation range from surface stylization to the edgy, the unusual and the useful. The common perception of the designer, as an inventive individual who creates ‘cool and hip’ stuff, has crafted the image of design as a fashion forward, sophisticated and cultured outcome. Now a household word worldwide, design has captured the attention of the governmental bodies concerned with a city or a nation’s economic development.
But, despite its growing significance, our knowledge and use of design remains poorly developed. The socio-economic value we place on design needs to be further discovered, translated, and validated, along with the clarification and agreement of the gauge of good design. The task before us is to encourage interface between creativity, culture, economics, and technology by connecting people, ideas and fields of thought. It is also important to determine the significance of the depth of each individual design discipline while promoting and celebrating the commonly shared base of all design. One of the most engaging ways of doing this is with the institution of a Design Week as a focused rally for design.
During this past decade, the city of London contributed £21 billion to the country’s total creative industries output of £85 billion. According to the city Mayor’s Office, the creative industries account for 1 in 5 jobs in the UK capital. Further the sector has seen a growth rate of 9 per cent a year, compared with that of financial services which only grew 5 per cent in the same period.
Emerging global economic leaders such as China have reported similar levels of urban creative industries activity.
It is estimated that during the past five years, China’s cultural industries have grown at an average annual rate of more than 17%, surpassing that of the national economy by over 7%. The cultural industries have emerged as an engine that is poised to drive a substantial part of China’s economy in the coming years.

Internationally, we witness daily the impacts of these critical issues and the resultant class structure shifts. The creative class now constitutes between 30% and nearly 50% of the workforces across all sectors in advanced nations. For firms engaged with the arts, services, traditional manufacturing, or high-tech endeavors, competitive success depends increasingly on their ability to tap into and unleash the creative ideas of their workforce. At the same time, recent evidence suggests that the local presence of creative activities and people is a necessary condition for a city’s innovative vitality and overall economic success globally. Further, in an international survey conducted by Adobe Systems Inc., 8-10 people felt that unlocking creativity is critical to economic growth.

In this context Design Weeks have become contemporary culture festivals which drive entertainment and commerce.
It is because of this that cities, large and small, supported by governmental initiatives, are rapidly gearing up to capitalize and become the next design destinations.

Design Week events raise a general public awareness and understanding of design. These ambitious undertakings seek to impact more than just the public. They also aim to boost local economies and tourism, promote local craft and design, and add to a cultural dialog. Most importantly, Design Weeks are lucrative.

Design Weeks have grown from a handful to nearly 100 worldwide in just ten years. Today, Design Weeks are held in many major cities of the developed countries, such as in Moscow, Los Angeles, Paris, London, and Milan, and in major cities of countries considered to be in transition, such as in Mexico City, Dubai, Beijing or Cape Town. This year New York City hosted its inaugural Design Week, this on the heels of an enormous 75 per cent growth in design jobs over the past decade.

This increasing number of design weeks, and their international outreach and programming, serves as an important amalgamation of local and regional designers being presented on the national and international stage. As a result, the cultural impact of design weeks expands beyond the walls of the exhibition. With the technologically facile communications, they spark a global conversation and initiate action. This evolution requires a major focus on education and its quality.

In the typical behavior patterns associated with all cities, design is a means by which populations are both differentiated from one another yet bound together. Design week programs act as signposts for local and regional urban individuality and identity as well as a platform for a new global cultural industry. The end result of these events is a constant churn of ideas, knowledge and products. The Design week reactivates the age-old link between the city and culture in hopes of crafting a new creative vision for the future.