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Premium design forum coming to Seoul

 Electric fans without blades, USBs shaped like bookmarks and black washing machines ― these are some of the inspired recipients of the Red Dot Design Award, regarded as one of the highest honors in the world of design.

Industry watchers say consumers have fallen in love with the products because they are not only pleasing to the eye, but are also practical for everyday use.

So far, the Red Dot Design Award has been doled out mostly to foreign companies, such as Bang & Olufsen or Apple, that have traditionally been focused on design innovation.

Korea, while it may be a leader in the arena of information technology, was considered a newcomer in design.

But that reputation may soon change since over the past few years, Korean products have been garnering increasing attention.

In 2009, Kia Motor’s Soul received the Red Dot Design Award, while in 2010 and this year, the automaker’s Sportage and K5 won the iF design award.

Local companies also swept the IDEA award in the U.S.

The latest trend is a testimony of the progress Korea has made, industry experts noted, and its determination to put its name on the map as a leader in design.

Herald Media launches international design forum

The international design forum Herald Media is to host later this month is all about buttressing Korea’s design initiative.

Entitled the iDEA (Information, Design, Entertainment Academy) Herald Design Forum 2011, the forum will be of the biggest gathering for designers and related individuals creating an opportunity for avid discussions on design.

The forum will bring together some of the world’s top experts on design and branding to talk about the significance of design and its social, economic and cultural value.

Ultimately, the forum will also search for directions on how Korea may strive to become a design leader.

The iDEA 2011 forum will consist of three main sessions, with one on national and city design, industrial and corporate design, and finally on culture and design.

These sessions are designed so they may shed light on the role of design as an effective medium between nations, cities, companies and life in general.

Martin Lindstrom, a world-renowned brand futurist who is also the celebrated author of the best-selling “Brand Sense,” will be making the keynote speech.

Lindstrom was previously heralded by TIME Magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people and he is expected to offer expert views on how design is important not only as an economic and social sense, but as something powerful enough to change the world. 

Aramides Waschmaschine (Red Dot Design)
Aramides Waschmaschine (Red Dot Design)

Dyson Air Multiplier (Red Dot Design)
Dyson Air Multiplier (Red Dot Design)

What the sessions offer

The first session on national and city design will be devoted to discussion on the designs that can be seen in cities and nations.

The discussions will be kicked off by Simon Anholt, who is a member of the British government’s Public Diplomacy Board who advises a number of other governments on their branding strategies as well.

Anholt’s ties with Korea began when he participating in the country’s tourism branding strategy, which yielded the tagline “Korea Sparkling.”

The keynote for the session will be given by Seoul City Mayor Oh Se-hoon, while the mediator will be Lee Bae-yong, chair of the Presidential Council on Nation Branding, who will talk about the current state of Korea’s national and city designs and a future vision.

Speakers will include Richard Register, founder and president of Ecocity Builders in the U.S., and Danny Seo, an environmental life style expert who established environmental organization “Earth 2000” as a teen.

Session organizers said the speakers will offer a chance to discuss Seoul’s efforts for developing into a true “Soul of Asia” by becoming Asia’s central design city, and the progress it has made.

The next session on industrial and corporate design will deal with the issue of how designs represent industries.

In particular, the panelists will discuss smart design and IT designs with Kim Young-se, head of Inno Design, who is seen as one of Korea’s top industrial designers, mediating the session. Hyundai Card president Ted Chung, famous for his design management business philosophy, will be the key presenter.

The two design gurus are expected to shed light on what design means to industries and products based on their own expertise and business philosophy.

Panelists for this session include Chris Bangle, one of the world’s three top automobile designers and globally renowned industrial designer Karim Rashid and Chung Kook-hyun, president of Samsung Art & Design Institute.

Bangle’s attendance was seen to be generating much attention since he recently made a surprise career move by signing up with work with Samsung Electronics, which is seeking to step up its design competence to overcome rival Apple, forum organizers said.

The third and final session will involve a special mentoring course from real-life design gurus.

Choi Sang-hyun, animation designer for the popular “Pororo” animation series will give a lecture to young and aspiring designers.

Celebrated pop artists from Japan and China also will be taking part in the sessions.

At the end of the official program, the floor will be opened to students and others interested in design so they may directly pitch questions at the experts and designers.

By Kim Ji-hyun (