sunnudagur, desember 14, 2008

Icelandic Design: Give an Icelandic Christmas Present, Give Iceland a Present: "Gefum íslenska gjöf, gefum Íslandi gjöf!!"

Artist Björk Guðmundssdóttir supports the campagne "Gefum íslenska gjöf, gefum Íslandi gjöf!.
Icelandic design
Here are the points on important opportunities and objectives in Icelandic design, made by the Sparkworkshop series organized by Björk, and the University of Reykjavik, and given to the government.

In a nutshell: Icelandic design is a creative force that can strengthen Icelandic society and promote a diverse economy. All innovation projects call for the ingenuity and expertise of designers. It is important to involve designers in the early stages of projects, whether with private businesses, the public sector, or in different arenas. There is a prevailing tendency to get designers involved too late in the process, instead of bringing their experience into play at the very beginning of product and project development. There are already many interesting projects up and running that involve designers working with Icelandic heritage such as museums, agriculture, gastronomy, tourism and professional manufacturing. It is important to support these projects and to construct a network of designers, investors, business and marketing people, in order to create new and diverse opportunities in Iceland.

1. Collaboration between designers and businesses should be encouraged, as well as close cooperation with employment development associations and investors in innovation

Designers and companies from various parts of the country should be brought together and collaboration between these parties and employment development associations, innovation funds and investors, encouraged. More cooperation and dialogue leads to mutual understanding, purposeful solutions of problems, and clear future planning. The role and importance of design in innovation needs better presentation. Design is not limited to the way things will look later on, but can function as a necessary stimulus in product and service development. It is a creative factor in the making of business ideas that can have an escalating effect. It is therefore vital to stimulate the ingenuity, expertise and skill of designers at the launching stages of research and production processes, when fundamental decisions are made on each project and its possible future. A well-known British study into the importance of design in business activity, The Impact of Industrial Design Effectiveness on Corporate Financial Performance, showed that businesses that purposefully use design right from the earliest stages of planning have seen better returns and profits. Designers also play an important part as contacts with various fields such as development, production, marketing, and sales. It is essential to know the lie of the land and to pinpoint the best approach before setting out.

2. Promoting production and manufacturing in Iceland

We need a powerful network abroad in the field of academic proficiency, as much as in production and know-how, and to increase collaboration with design companies boasting of great experience and expertise. Manufacturing culture in Iceland is still quite modest in size and needs boosting. Different requirements need to be professionally defined; for instance, a wool manufacturer will need a different approach than a manufacturer of software and technology. The road from concept to implementation is a long one, and there is a real lack of substantial knowledge in Iceland of each stage of the process. As there is much diversity within the design process, we need to cultivate powerful networks with parties abroad in order to fully process certain industrial goods in Iceland successfully. Engineering offices should be established to solve complex problems, and ways of financially supporting start-up companies need rethinking in order to advance and develop these companies. With increased support and understanding it should be possible, over time, to manufacture industrial products from start to finish in Iceland, and open doors for diverse design companies.

3. Intensive marketing of Icelandic design

We need to define the characteristics of Icelandic design based on our culture and customs – i.e. we need to find the Icelandic pitch. Distinctive Icelandic design is still rather scarce but there are abundant prospects and a lot of interest from abroad. We need to draw attention abroad on the basis of our uniqueness and follow through with comprehensive and focused marketing of Icelandic design. Ties between progressive design and both domestic and foreign markets also need to be strengthened. Marketing abroad of Icelandic design can be boosted by establishing agencies that can take care of various assignments and handlings. The Iceland Design Centre and the Trade Council of Iceland have already taken steps in this direction, but more is needed.

4. Set up a working group to create channels for Icelandic design in the future

A working group is needed to clearly establish the strengths and weaknesses of design in Iceland. The group would, for instance, analyze the uniqueness of individual parts of the country, and of Iceland as a whole; work towards building a strong network, both home and abroad; encourage collaboration between designers and businesses; create a vision for the future of Icelandic design; and, finally, find it a place on the international market. The working group’s primary objective will be to put Iceland’s unique assets on the world map.

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