Business of Design Week 2016: from city planning to typeface design

On 1st December, 2016, Business Of Design Week commenced the Plenary II

Business Of Design Week 2016 holds various inspiring lectures. A wide range of topics were discussed ranging from city planning, green space to typeface design.

Architecture and Design of a Sustainable City 

The first speaker was Winy Maas, the co-founding director of the globally operating architecture and urban planning firm MVRDV. He is known for promoting sustainable urban design and planning.

One of his major works was the revitalization project of an old factory building on Wai Yip Street, Hong Kong, which was transformed into an entirely see-through glass office building.

He knew of the old and under-used industrial area in Kowloon East and understood the urge of changing the use and design of old buildings as there was a procedure that could not be bypassed. But he was still optimistic in applying new styles of architecture in old districts.



Winy Maas, co-founding director of MVRDV

Tim Brown, the CEO and president of IDEO, shared his design thinking and innovation with businesspeople and designers around the world.

He has been interested in the convergence of technology and arts for long time, and it urges him to think of how design can be used to promote the well-being of people living in emerging economies.

He said, “Efficiency has been a good thing for business but it hasn’t been enough, it can be bad if it focuses on only one thing.

Think about running a Newspaper versus the newer idea of Craigslist. Businesses need to be vibrant, diverse, constantly innovative to address needs of clients. Evolve from efficient systems to abundant eco systems!”


Tim Brown, CEO and president of IDEO


The World’s First Vertical Garden 

Patrick Blanc, a botanist/artist, was also one of the speakers.

He is the creator of the soilless system allowing the realisation of Vegaetal Walls, which was later patented. He also created the world’s first Vertical Garden.

He discussed the combination of architecture and plants, and also pointed out the value of a green environment and gardening system in the process of urban planning.

He prompted, “Technique of building a vertical garden is not most important. First thing I need to know is the plant – put the right plant in the right place in an architecture. To plant the right species is to propagate the local species. It is the ideal. The local one already adapts the local climate.”



Patrick Blanc, botanist/artist



New Thinking in Design Education

Ahn Sangsoo is a Korean typographer and a graphic designer.

He developed an interest in Korean typeface at his early stage of career. He founded Ahn Graphics in 1985 and created his first self-titled typeface configuration Ahn Sang-Soo.

His contribution to Korean typography has granted him numerous international awards.

He shared his idea about design education, “I have had no money, but only dream. I gather designers to start my new school at aged 60. Not too late to start. The central tenet of Pa Ti (Ahn’s design school) is there is no competition, which kills creativity I reckon.

Everybody wants to be the first. Everybody wants to star. I want to be better and make more money than my friends do. In short-term, competition works. But in long term, by avoiding competition we work better together.

Compared with what we teach, teaching environment is more important for students. Education is the most powerful weapon by which you can change the world. Education gives me courage.”

Ahn Sangsoo, founder of Ahn Graphics

Ahn Sangsoo, founder of Ahn Graphics

Combining Technology and Design

In “Tech & Design” forum, Gijs van der Velden, a designer from the Netherlands, stressed the importance of critical and visionary research, particularly in this digital age.

MX3D, a 3D printing research lab which he founded, developed a robotic 3D printer that can print big objects, out of the box, in metals and resins.

He even set out on a journey to 3D print a metal bridge over a canal in the Red Light District of Amsterdam.


Gijs van der Velden, founder of MX3D



Combining Urban Space and Design

In the “Workplace & Design” forum, one of the speakers was a Korean designer, Jeong Younjin, who co-founded URBANTAINER.

One of her best works is “Common Ground”, a combination of numerous containers that creates a unique urban space for the city of Seoul.

Now, the container shopping mall has become one of Seoul’s most appealing destination for shoppers and tourists.

She is concerned with working environment for employees as she said in the forum “Jobs these days are not separable from life.

We have to consider jobs and life as one package. We want to create a co-working and co-living environment.”


Jeong Younjin, co-founder of URBANTAINER


Philip Ross, the founder and CEO of UnGroup, has spoken at conferences around the world including the Wall Street Journal Europe CEO Forum on Converging Technologies and the Corenet Global Summits.

Specializing in research on people and their behaviors, at the forum he predicted the impact of emerging technology on the way we used space, where we would spend time to work, shop, consume leisure and live.

Buildings today are wrong since we simply put people on floors. Instead designers should clarify the clients’ perspectives and their sectors about how people roam in the space.

Physical connection no longer means being in the same room at the same time but connecting with people remotely.”

As for Jeremy Myerson, he is an academic, author and activist in design and innovation who co-founded the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design that specializes in researching innovation and development for ageing and healthcare.

He said “We observe 3 distinct ways of change in the office space in hisotry. The Taylorist Office that emphasises controlled environment and scientific management has faded out.

The Social Democratic Office that focuses social interaction is the most seen nowadays. But we believe that the Networked Office is the future.”

This Year’s Two Premiere Special Forums

This year, there was a premiere launch of “Food & Design” forum, where Martin Kastner and Marije Vogelzang joined as speakers.

Martin Kastner is the service-ware designer for Chicago’s three Michelin-starred restaurants while Marije Vogelzang is the world’s first eating designer re-imagineering eating behavior.

The partner city of this year’s Business of Design Week is Chicago.

In order to include more Chicago’s elements, a special lecture on “The Making of Millennium Park” was exclusively launched.

The Commissioner of the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Event Events, Mark Kelly, and the sculptor behind the Millennium Park’s landscape, Terry Guen, imparted the design features of the Park and its cultural and economic benefits to the Chicago city.


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