|Lee Tae-yong, president of the Korea Institute of Design Promotion. (KIDP)|
Strengthening the competitiveness of small and medium-sized companies is a key part of the government’s goal of realizing a creative economy centered on job creation.
Small companies looking to grow into global firms must sharpen their competitive edge, officials say.
There are two pillars in SME competitiveness: technological innovation and design.
No matter how well a product is made, poor packaging will weaken its ability to compete in the market, but good design can help SMEs jockey for position in the market.
The Korea Herald listened to the role and activities by the Korea Institute of Design Promotion through an interview with its president Lee Tae-yong.
Korea Herald: What does the Korea Institute of Design Promotion do?
Lee Tae-yong: The Korea Institute of Design Promotion was established in 1970 and is one of the world’s biggest design promotion agencies and is the only Korean state organization promoting design. We play a leading role in the development and improvement of so-called “K-design,” contributing to elevating Korea’s global competitiveness by fostering design and creative industries.
KIDP was established with the name of the Korea design packaging center in 1970 and changed the name into the Korea Institute of Design Promotion in 2001.
When it was moving into Bundang, Gyeonggi Province, in October 2001, the organization completed the construction of the “Korea Design Center” to provide comprehensive services for design support infrastructure.
We are working to develop our design industry by establishing infrastructure for design and mapping out development policies and strategies.
Our major businesses include design policy development and research, promotion of investment in design, support for Korean firms’ design-related activities overseas and expansion of a culture of design.
KH: What activities is KIDP’s support center in the central region involved in?
Lee: The support center in the central region displays products selected for good design and commodities designed by SMEs in its lobby.
Beginning April next year, the center plans to operate a “design business studio” and a design-centered business incubator to provide design-related start-ups in Daejeon and the Chungcheong region with support for technology and management skills.
KIDP plans to launch the two organizations within the support center in the central region this month by securing funds for business incubator offices from the Small and Medium Business Administration.
We expect that the design business studio will help boost the local economy and strengthen its competitiveness by spurring the fusion of design and R&D in the central region.
Daejeon and its surrounding Chungcheong region have great growth potential as they are well established in infrastructure and R&D.
Furthermore, demand for design related to public and environmental projects is expected to soar as the region is set to complete an international science business belt and the relocation of government organizations in Sejong City.
Discussion is underway to build a design center covering the Chungcheong region. If the plan is realized, it is also anticipated that we will be able to maximize our design-related support for SMEs.
Currently, three design centers representing Busan, Gwangju and Daegu-North Gyeongsang are in operation.
KH: Can you explain how you select the winners of design awards?
Lee: This year marks the 29th anniversary of our awards. The aim of the event is to select value-added products with creative design. The winners are allowed to use the “GD” mark on their products. In this year’s event, LG Electronics’ latest smartphone G2 won the grand prize. Samsung Electronics’ smart TV platform Smart Hub and Jaguar Landrover Korea’s F-Type sports car received first prizes. A total of 630 commodities were selected as GD products.
The foreign carmaker’s winning of the prize proves that our country’s design certification system is an object of attention overseas. A total of 132 products from foreign countries were submitted for the Good Design contest.
KH: What is the KIDP’s idea of “K-design”?
Lee: K-design refers to a competitive design both with Korean identity and world universality. The design identity means having Korea’s aesthetic and philosophical DNA, and Korean design’s characteristics that foreigners recognize.
There has been a social trend in our society to follow Western designs. It came as a result of Western-oriented design education dominated in the course of modernization of our country.
Now, I think it is time that our country should study and develop our design identity in a systematic manner.
By Lee Kwon-hyung