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asia’s premier design event welcomed world-famous designers

over 80 renowned brand leaders, design masters and entrepreneurs from various sectors gathered at business of design week (BODW) 2021, based in hong kong. at asia’s premier online annual event on design, an exciting line-up of key panel sessions – drawing on the theme ‘global design reset’ – signified the need for fresh thinking, decisive leadership and collaborative creativity across various disciplines. organized by hong kong design centre (HKDC), the concluded program that run from 1-4 december, included designers and speakers from all over the world with names like herzog & de meuron, refik anadol studio, thomas heatherwick and many more.

(above) refik anadol – quantum memories

(banner) pei zhu, image by schranimage

all images courtesy of hong kong design centre’s business of design week

business of design week 2021 was streamed as a hybrid virtual program

business of design week (BODW) 2021 was held as a hybrid virtual program where a global audience of over 380,000 exchanged and explored upcoming business opportunities. the curated program explored eight main pillars of topics relevant to our society today: brand rejuvenation; connected health and wellbeing; creative mindset & Innovation leadership; culture & the city; designing an intelligent future; hospitality with purpose; new urban models and phygital reality. titled ‘global design reset’, the stimulating gathering shined a light on how we can thrive amid crisis, co-create a sustainable future, and make meaningful impact through human-centered design and technology.

bruce mau

bruce mau & thomas heatherwick as keynote speakers at 

business of design week 2021

among the livestreamed panel sessions, 80 big names of the design field took part in the talks. bruce mau, chief executive officer and massive change network and founder of bruce mau design, talked of the built urban prosperity and sustainability on human wellbeing. ‘we need to put problems in context,’ said the renowned designer as he invites audiences to explore his book, MC24, speaking of intellectual concepts that aim to change the way the specifically mentioned design principles are used. some of these include: designing to inspire and leading by design, where it demands to put inspiration as the principal job in the business; and design with fact-based optimism.

‘everything we do has to be designed in this new way, it has to be designed to be part of life and not separate from it. it’s daunting but it’s also one of the greatest business opportunities in the history of mankind—the opportunity to take on that level of reset,’ continues mau.

bruce mau broadcasted at the opening ceremony for the topic ‘how design changes the world’

on the topic ‘rewilding urban space’, architectural designer thomas heatherwick touched upon the dwellers’ desire for access to greenery. along with his studio, the talk discussed ways in which buildings are made to embed a complexity that uses nature. the research led the team to find that current architecture is currently designed to induce stress due to the monotony that revolves it. 

‘ideas come from wild thoughts and places need to be free. nature is one of things which, if used well as a tool, it can be a counterpoint, it can informalize. […] we need the world around us to have a level of interest and depth for it to truly sustain itself,’ explains heatherwick. 

thomas heathewrick speaks at the keynote session, ‘rewilding urban space’ with moderator prof. eric schuldenfrei

watch and replay any of the online sessions here

as artist refik anadol spoke of the emerging crypto assets trends in the world of fine art, other topics include: ‘media disruptions’ sharing insights on creative programming; ‘future mobility & transportation’ to discuss how integrated design and technologies are shaping mobility and economy; ‘sustainable hospitality’ as food systems help reverse climate change; ‘creative placemaking of the world’ delving into cultural strategies and initiatives; ‘unlocking potential in metaverse’ discussing the fusion between the physical and digital into the metaverse; and ‘carving out future workspace and living’ regarding the digital infrastructure adapting to office needs. 

‘this has been a wonderful week, and I hope you have learned as much as we have about the transformative power of life-centered design, and the importance of designing for a sustainable future. living in these volatile times, we are in a unique position to rethink the way we live, work, and design a better world – that is, act as forerunners for a “global design reset”, our BODW theme this year,’ said prof. eric yim, chairman of hong kong design centre at his closing speech.

toranomon-azabudai tokyo, image by heatherwick studio l darcstudio

moderator jehan chu (co-founder & managing partner, kenetic, HK) with sara mao (director and vice president, christie’s education asia pacific HK) and refik anadol onscreen for the session, ‘mastering the craft of crypto creation’