Business of Design Week 2008

Well, Business of Design Week in Hong Kong is over for another year. I’m not sure I have the time to do a lengthy write up on all the speakers I saw like I did last year, but I will give you a bit of a re-cap. Holland was the partner country this year, so there was plenty of local and Dutch talent in the city this week. Amongst many others I saw Hella Jongerius, Michael Young, and Rem Koolhaas. Unfortunately I missed out on seeing Marcel Wanders and Renny Ramakers of Droog Design. Rem Koolhaas was incredible, and my writing talents can not do justice to his words. What I will say, is that anyone interested in architecture, town planning or the cities of the future should jump at an opportunity to hear him speak. He truly is a visionary.

Apart from Koolhaas, I found Hella Jongerius’ talk interesting and a great insight into her working process – in particular, her explanation of how the Polder Sofa for Vitra came about. Jongerius background and specialisation is ceramics so she was a little confused to say the least when Vitra approached her to design a sofa. She almost turned down the commission! She told them she didn’t want to to design a sofa because she didn’t like them and actually didn’t even own one herself (not sure what she sat on instead!). So Vitra turned around and told her she should design a sofa that she would want at home, and so the gauntlet was laid. This funky shape is the result of a 6 month long design and mock-up process.

The most distinguishing features of the “Polder” sofa is the use of fabrics that are 4 different tones of the same colour, and oddly miss-matched buttons. Jongerius explained the reason for choosing so many different colours on one piece was to make it easier for people to fit this within their home – that it would be easier to “match” the colours with items in their existing interior. As someone who spent the beginning of my career working in fabric showrooms helping clients select fabrics for their furniture – I can personally say that this is a genius idea. I’m just not sure why nobody thought of it sooner. I found myself nodding my head knowingly as she spoke about how it is impossible to carry colour in your memory, and how hard it is to find just the right shade of (whatever colour it is that you’re looking for) green, red etc. to work with your (insert other decorative items here) carpet, curtains etc. Time and time again its such simple ideas that make the greatest innovations!

** Oops, I almost forgot to mention that the organisers of BODW announced the new partner country for 2009….FRANCE! Can you guess who is just a little bit excited???

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