amy chow, project director of the hong kong design centre and design for asia award 2011 judge

half of the world’s population lives in asia and the characteristics of this growing and maturing market are becoming important considerations for designers and enterprises across the world affecting products and interiors, apparel and communications. the design for asia (DFA) award, organized by the hong kong design centre (HKDC), seeks to raise awareness amongst businesses and the public about the value of good design as an essential component in business success, as well as for a sustainable, higher quality of life for all.

here is an interview with the HKDC’s project director and DFA award 2011 judge, amy chow in which she talks about the role of design in asia and the significance of the award on an international level.

what do you think of the asian design style? it is difficult to generalise about asian design, since every asian country has its unique culture and traditions reflecting everything from architecture to dining and customs. in my opinion, asian design centres on our daily lives, cultural values and aesthetics. for instance, the tea culture in asia. throughout the course of the development of tea from ceremony, tea house, packaging to drinking tea in everyday life, they have mapped against an individual country’s history, culture and urban modernity.

so, if I have to discuss what asian design is about, I would rather elaborate it on an individual country basis as each asian country has its unique cultural manifest from its indigenous design, which deserves our attention and respect. in the formation of its modern history, japan, whose design was initially influenced by the west, has eventually formed its own oriental minimalist style and is now regarded as a design leader by many of its peers in asia. due to its developed economy, japanese enjoys a higher living standard, and thus, has become more demanding about quality, design and aesthetic level in all aspects. there is no doubt that design helps elevate our living standard. in other asian countries such as thailand and india, creative talents proactively employ innovative design to solve social problems. for example, purifying filters and water bottles were designed to help tackle water pollution, which improved the quality and hygiene of the drinking water and have made clean water for drinking more affordable. likewise, a low cost engine was designed and manufactured in mumbai to enhance local people’s mobility and productivity. these social problems push local designers to their limit, using their creativity to solve societal issues, and thus, enhance people’s quality of life through design.

amy chow interview, project director of hong kong design centre ‘leaf tie’ by lufdesign from korea – 2010 DFA silver award

what does ‘good design’ mean to you? a good design should be authentic and capable of reflecting the value and culture governing our everyday lives. in other words, design should be culturally connected. more importantly, a good design should include new thought and insight to inspire and stimulate users to think beyond the obvious.

can you introduce the design for asia award (DFA award) organised by hong kong design centre (HKDC) to our readers? the design for asia award recognizes outstanding designs of any products launched in at least one of the asian markets, honouring designs which enhance the quality and vibrancy of asian lives. the DFA award was established in 2003 by the hong kong design centre and we invite design gurus from around the world to form a representative judging panel every year. a series of design for asia gold, silver, bronze and certificates of merit will be awarded in 18 categories. ten design for asia grand awards, together with three design for asia special awards, will be selected from global nominations by regional experts and the winners of the design for asia category award.

amy chow interview, project director of hong kong design centre ‘x-mini ii capsule speaker’ by xmi pte ltd from singapore – 2010 DFA bronze award

what is the significance of the DFA award? the award is important to designers and corporations aiming to maximize their presence in asia and tap into the constantly growing asian markets. the award winners are selected by a team of international judges, including world-renowned design professionals with international and local exposure, such as the 2011 judges including henry steiner, an international acclaimed graphic designer, who is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his career as a design professional, bo linnemann, an influential graphic designer and architect, as well as an expert in corporate identity design with more than 20 years of experience, chelsia lau, chief designer of ford motor china and asean programmes, who was named by a prestige automobile publication as one of the ‘top 10 secret people who will change your world’, she is also the recipient of ‘2006 world’s outstanding chinese designer’, and pei zhu, a renowned award-winning architect in mainland china, whose practical solution is based on solid and innovative conceptual thinking, and combined with a critical perspective. the winners will receive the deserved recognition and endorsement by prevailing over the other outstanding entries, while all participants will receive comments and direction by the authoritative judging panel. in addition, HKDC promotes award winners to a worldwide audience through regular roadshows and on its official website, which also benefits the winners, especially those up and coming designers, and helps them gain exposure and generate potential business opportunities.

amy chow interview, project director of hong kong design centre ‘the grand forbidden city by design & cultural studies (hong kong) workshop’ – 2009 DFA special award for culture

can you share with us some of the recent award-winning projects? at HKDC, we want to acknowledge outstanding designs that enhance the quality and increase vibrancy of asian’s daily life regardless of their physical size. in 2010, a tiny leaf tie, which enables its user to experience a hint of nature when tidying up unsightly cables, won the DFA silver award.

amy chow interview, project director of hong kong design centre ‘green school by pt bamboo pure’ – 2010 DFA special award for sustainability