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[Design Forum] Innovators discuss bridging gap between business and design

As part of the Herald Design Forum 2014, four leading experts in the fields of marketing and design gathered at the JW Marriott Dongdaemun Seoul on Wednesday to share their insights during the Herald Design Premium Talk.

This year’s talks featured two separate sessions under the theme “Design Changes the World ― Design Management and Design Storming.” The first session touched upon issues of corporate social responsibility and design innovation and was led by Alexander Schill, global chief creative officer and partner of Serviceplan Group, and Big Ant CEO Park Seo-won.

The second session was held by two internationally respected fashion designers: Olivier Theyskens, former creative director of Theory, and Lie Sang Bong, CEO of Lie Sang Bong Paris, who discussed their methods of raising brands to the next level through creative product development. 
Global chief creative officer and partner of Serviceplan Group Alexander Schill (right) speaks about innovation in advertising at the 2014 Herald Design Premium Talk on Wednesday at the JW Marriott Dongdaemun Seoul. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)
Global chief creative officer and partner of Serviceplan Group Alexander Schill (right) speaks about innovation in advertising at the 2014 Herald Design Premium Talk on Wednesday at the JW Marriott Dongdaemun Seoul. (Park Hyun-koo/The Korea Herald)

In the first session, an up-and-coming advertising executive whose independent company is making waves around the industry, Schill stressed creativity and innovation as the crucial “do or die” aspects of design and advertising.

“This is my message for today: We have to be innovative everywhere,” Schill said.

“Innovation is the most crucial thing … design without innovation is worthless, as well as advertising without innovation,” he added. “Design is much more than just products or buildings. Design opens up to all areas of society.”

Schill used the examples of Instagram vs. Kodak, Airbnb vs. Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Uber vs. regular taxi services to illustrate how innovation and creative thinking can help us refashion various products.

“Innovate or die, this is what I try to implement in our agency,” he says.

The CEO of a major Korean design company, Park discussed the importance of thinking outside the box through focusing on his company’s latest corporate branding responsibility venture ― condoms.

During his lecture, Park emphasized the social ramifications of uninspired corporate responsibility, referencing pharmaceutical products sold in convenience stores with package designs that make it difficult for the average consumer to find the medicine they need.

“There needs to be a compromise between social issues and business profits,” he said.

After learning that the use of condoms in Korea is the lowest among OECD nations, less than 10 percent, Park decided to launch an ad campaign to revamp the way condoms are marketed and branded in Korea. This gave birth to the “Right way of thinking” condom brand.

“With this brand, using this message, I wanted to create a buzz,” he said. “A bald man trying to sell condoms that say ‘Right way of thinking,’ I received a ton of media attention.”

Within 35 days, the brand went from being the 30th-most purchased condom in the nation to the fifth, leading Park to export his product, with an English version of the box that reads “Damn Good Idea!”

In the second session, a noted fashion designer who has dressed the likes of Madonna, the Belgium-born Theyskens discussed his conviction that fashion needs a strong communication variable in order to convey its relevance.

“Fashion is always about modernity, what’s new, it always has to be stimulating,” said Theyskens. “Make sure what you show is relevant and that it’s strong.

The fashion designer said he often came up with specific themes for his projects as a launching point to jump-start his creative juices, all the while keeping in mind that fashion is a never-ending cycle of trends and that he doesn’t let the discouragement of others disrupt his innovative ambitions.

“Not all designers would like to on the one hand have extremely sophisticated things, and on the other hand to have a pair of jeans. But I am this kind of designer, and I have brought nightmares to managers all my life,” he said with a smirk.

In the case of Lie Sang Bong, who is one of the country’s most recognizable fashion designers, cutting-edge creations are all about collaborations.

“I believe that designers should always look for something new, but sometimes we just get stuck,” Lie said. “This is when we should turn to collaborations to help us think outside the box.”

Noting that the fashion industry was one of the first to look to outside collaborations to create a project, Lie stated that he is a firm believer in working in partnerships in order to create something truly unique. In the past the designer has worked with a wide variety of designers and artists, including a traditional Korean painter, which inspired him to feature traditional Korean colors and painting styles in his clothing line.

“Artists team up with other artists in order to get inspired, to seek something new and to create something they never could have done on their own,” he says.

By Julie Jackson (
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Korea Herald daum