Taking the Time to Reset our Design Future
We live in a time of ambiguity and change. With a new normal to navigate and adapt to, Business of Design Week (BODW) 2021 – “Global Design Reset” is about exploring new ideas that will help us thrive as we design for a more connected world.
Opening Ceremony of Business of Design Week 2021
To inspire global audiences on the transformational power of design, BODW 2021 embraced a dynamic hybrid format, with live simulcast on multiple platforms including TV broadcast. From 29 November to 4 December, over 80 local and international business and design visionaries shared profound and thought-provoking insights into our post-pandemic world across over 30 sharing sessions, offering unique and valuable perspectives around how we can reset our world and promote better wellbeing with design.
Eric Quint (on screen), “Sustainable Business Leadership” session
One theme was Creative Mindset & Innovation Leadership, with sessions centred around sustainable business leadership and how design changes the world. For Eric Quint, Former Senior Vice-President and Chief Brand and Design Officer for 3M Company in the Netherlands, cooperation is integral: “Design thinking to me is to collaborate and co-create with different stakeholders.” To design for social impact, they teamed up with a higher learning institution in Mexico that specialises in creative processes for problem solving to explore how technology could be used to address key social issues.
Design thinking to me is to collaborate and co-create with different stakeholders.
Bruce Mau (on screen), “How Design Changes the World” keynote session
Keynote speaker, creative optimist, and pioneering design expert, Bruce Mau, Chief Executive Officer at Massive Change Network and Founder of Bruce Mau Studio, has strong views on how we prioritise “life” in design. “Most cities are designed to push nature out. […] we have to think about ourselves integrated in the natural world, and that challenges us to do everything differently. […] We need to think about the welfare of all of life. A process that puts life, not humans, at the centre.”
Most cities are designed to push nature out. […] we have to think about ourselves integrated in the natural world, and that challenges us to do everything differently.
Thomas Heatherwick CBE (on screen), “Rewilding Urban Space” keynote session
Set against a context of global health and environmental challenges, BODW 2021 also highlighted emerging trends of bringing nature back into urban spaces, or “rewilding”. As Thomas Heatherwick CBE, Founder of Heatherwick Studio in the UK and design visionary characterised by his ingenuity and originality said, “Re-wilding is about ourselves – we are wild. Places need to be free. Nature, if used well, can be a counterpoint – it can be about change.”
Re-wilding is about ourselves – we are wild. Places need to be free. Nature, if used well, can be a counterpoint – it can be about change.
Edward Bell (middle), “Future Mobility and Transportation” session Richard Ekkebus (first right), “Making Sustainability Palatable” session
Speakers at BODW also highlighted why a sustainable approach was also the future for travel and hospitality. Edward Bell, General Manager, Brand Insights & Marketing Communications for Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd. said, “[…] something I think is interesting is not just environmental sustainability, but also sustainability for us – the way we travel that makes it healthier. […] The new model is – how can we live in a way that is more sustainable for us?” Richard Ekkebus, Michelin Star chef and Culinary Director at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong, believed it was possible to reshape the guest experience while contributing to sustainability, “We wanted to put our foot down and give it importance in our communication: the way we manage our waste, source our ingredients ethically, how we have reduced the amount of protein we were serving on the menu. I look to it as a glass half empty, and there are way more things we want to do.”
We wanted to put our foot down and give it importance in our communication: the way we manage our waste, source our ingredients ethically, how we have reduced the amount of protein we were serving on the menu.
Refik Anadol (on screen), “Talking to Refik Anadol: Mastering the Craft of Crypto Creation” session
Yat Siu (middle), “Unlocking Potential in the Metaverse” session
Speakers also ventured into a more “phygital” realm with discussions around how design and technology is connecting people in the digital world—socially, economically, and creatively. Refik Anadol, media artist at RAS. Refik Anadol Studio, discussed mastering the craft of crypto creation, and Yat Siu, Co-Founder and Chairman of Animoca Brands in Hong Kong shared, “The metaverse is a virtual society. […] Probably the sum total of your digital experience is already more than your physical experience.” Which offered much food for thought.
The metaverse is a virtual society. […] Probably the sum total of your digital experience is already more than your physical experience.
From post-COVID trends across health and wellbeing, hospitality, culture and city life, it became clear at BODW that if we are to meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving world and look to design a desirable future, our societies need to foster more collaborative creativity with a heightened sense of human connectedness.
BODW explored many of the ways design connects us and shapes our collective future. If you’d like to experience the inspiring discussions of BODW, you can register on our new design knowledge platform, bodw+, which offers free unlimited online access to all the action.