In order for design to take a leap and to create tangible values for society, it is crucial that the government should play a leading role, but only without restraining the freedom of expression, according to a renowned design maestro.
“The Korean government, not just the Culture Ministry but also its economic departments, seems to be highly committed to promoting design as a national project,” Italian designer Alessandro Mendini told The Korea Herald in an interview.
|Italian designer Alessandro Mendini. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)|
“Despite its strong tradition in arts, Italy ironically has little state support in the field of design.”
The 82-year-old designer thus referred to the World Design Policy Forum, which was held on Tuesday under the theme of “Designing Creative Economy” and in which he made a keynote speech.
The event was held by the Korean Federation of Design Association with the sponsorship of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
“Korea has always had an initiative in innovation, with its public and private sectors closely connected to each other,” he said.
“But the government’s involvement in design policy also poses a great risk as design is a free and creative sector by birth.”
This is why the government is required to minimize its authority when it comes to design and focus more on macroscopic issues such as designing city infrastructure, he explained.
In step with the Park Geun-hye administration’s slogan of “creative economy,” the design industry has recently set to boosting design as a means of creating new economic values.
Despite such efforts to merge design to other sectors of society, however, there is still a perspective gap between the design industry and ordinary people, Mendini admitted.
“Design experts tend to focus on the cause of design, but the public is more interested in the look and function of the designed object,” he said.
This is why the two parties often disagree on the market price of design goods and the designers’ brand value, he added.
“Luxurious brands put a high price on their products, quoting the name value of high-end designers, and this often initiates the public’s opposition,” said the senior designer.
“But what one must do is to differentiate mass production goods and limited-line design products.”
The former is to be evaluated for its price and function, whereas the latter should be appreciated for its creative beauty and innovative inspiration, he explained.
It is nevertheless true that the emphasis on designer brand value inflicts a negative impact on young budding designers who have not yet established their reputation, Mendini added.
“In order to catch the public’s attention and to yield profits, companies cannot but hire famous designers, especially when it comes to big projects such as building construction,” he said.
“This is why active support is needed in order to nurture the young designer generation and to promote the industry in a long-term perspective.”
Mendini, too, is working on a collaboration project with local builder POSCO Engineering & Construction to design the exterior of its signature apartment brand “The Sharp.”
He also launched, in hand with Hankook Chinaware, a luxurious tea set brand named Geometrica.
“In a way, designers and the public are just like doctors and their patients, or experts and non-experts,” Mendini said.
“Doctors need to bring down their medical knowledge to the eye level of the patient, whereas the patient needs to deliver its symptoms to the doctor and abide by the prescription.”
By Bae Hyun-jung (email@example.com)