Recognizing the growing importance of Design for the economic and cultural development of China – and in the bigger context for Asia – the organizers of the most important economic forum in Asia included Design as a hot topic into their program for the first time. Together with peers such as my friend Liu Guanzhong, David Chu of Georg Jensen, Haim Dotan and Gus Desparats of DeTao Group, Fang Ling of Tesign and Soon-In Lee of the World Design Organization, I participated in a Sunday-session “Design: Not just beautiful”, hosted by Li Sixuan, Anchor and Financial Commentator of CCTV’s Business Channel.

Sunday-session “Design: Not just beautiful”, hosted by Li Sixuan.

In the morning, I had the opportunity and honor to meet He Qiongmei, Secretary of Qionghai Municipal Committee of CPC at a breakfast hosted by George Lee, Chairman of the DeTao Group – and mentor of my advanced class at SIVA. The discussion was focused on how the BOAO FORUM can be expanded towards creative education in Hainan. Secretary He Qiongmei responded very positive to our proposal of expanding creative education to High Schools with a “Creative Science” focus aside of logical science and liberal arts, which will allow non-linear talents to pass GaoKao based upon more ambigious and creativity-minded intelligence tests and less focus on rational topics such as math – and also to make such a High School and follow-up design college accessible to foreign students.

These are the topics I proposed both to Secretary He Qiongmei – and later as well to the audience at the forum discussion:

1/ Establish Creative Sciences in High School > equal to rational sciences and liberal arts. About 1 in 8 humans is born with a right-brain-creative mindset. Many of these have to survive a “rational education and logical training” – and their biggest need of an ambiguous education with the need for “measurable results / grades”, senseless play (e.g. building model airplanes), music, dancing, painting, poetry or just provoking the “status quo” often is suppressed – and in no way mentored and advanced. Current Fact: Students come to design schools trained to adjust and please, and they miss all the basic skills of dealing and enjoying uncertainty. They also fear to take risks and “fail”.

2/ Creative Design Teachers – both in High School and Design College – shall also work successfully in the industrial business practice. This will provide a more realistic compass for the students: To succeed as competent and respected executive partners in the rational world of business and public institutions, designers must become creative entrepreneurs and embrace accountability for themselves. Needed are skills in data aquisition & analysis, skills in business and promotion for leadership beyond college.

3/ Designers need to be promoted according to their competence and value. Designers must report and work with Top-Management – and/or be part of the top. Liu Guanzhong added, that China has to change the focus from “mass-producing designers” towards educating design leaders more than anything else.

4/ Change for industry by design education: “Create – don’t copy”. Focus on more innovative and human-centric design results in fewer and better products – physical and digital – with the added value of a superior customer experience, which then will create better financial results and a more sustainable ecological equation of resources consumed and pollution caused.

5/ Build “Creative Valleys” in China by inviting the World’s creative students, designers, entrepreneurs and “crazies”. Looking at Silicon Valley’s success by being open for global talent – before Trump, immigrants founded half of US Billion Dollar Start-Ups in Silicon Valley – with great universities and world-leading companies, China has the unique opportunity to accelerate its development from the “World’s Workbench” towards becoming a creative leader.

Other events: Most interesting for me was the session on the Greater South China Sea Region with politicians and thought leaders from China, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Australia. Absent were Japan, the Phillipines and the United States, and whereas Zhang Yongnian from Singapore estimated – or hoped – that Trump would be more “pragmatic” than Obama, the overall consensus was, that a positive approach of mutual collaboration in the spirit of a “21st Century Maritime Silk Road” was needed in order to avoid a proxy war.

BOAO Forum for Asia Center

More Information visit BOAO Forum for Asia.

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