Robert L. Peters

29 September 2002

Crumbling Walls, New Dawn

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Beijing, China

This September, I was part of a three-week Icograda board visit to mainland China and Taiwan, first stop Beijing. Our eyeopening junket began with a multi-day Board Meeting and Icograda Design Perspectives Seminar in the bustling city. We also toured schools and design studios, and I participated in the formal opening of the Red Cross International Poster Exhibition.* Capital highlights included the warm fellowship and wonderful sightseeing provided by our gracious hosts—including the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.

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Next stop, Shanghai. The Jinmao Tower (third highest building in the world) in this sky-scraping metropolis was the venue for the ‘logo2002 Identity and Communication Conference’ in which our board members took part. A variety of lively receptions and show openings afforded the opportunity to meet designers from across China and to see different facets of this rapidly growing city. The Shanghai Graphic Designers Association helped convene a historic first meeting among Chinese Icograda members and provisional members, from Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing, Suzhou and Shanxi. A special treat for our hard-working board was a guided bus tour to the ancient canal town of Tong Li and the Humble Administrator’s Garden in Suzhou.

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*You can view a video showing a selection of Chinese design works from the Red Cross International Poster Exhibition as well as from Suzhou (another exhibition I juried) on exhibit at the DDD Gallery in Osaka, Japan here. You can read more details of this memorable first trip into China by an official design organization in the editorial I wrote for the Icograda BoardMessage (one-page PDF).


11 September 2002

Hong Kong: The Future, by Design

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Hong Kong

At the invitation of the newly formed Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC), Icograda president Robert L. Peters today gave a presentation entitled “The Future—by Design” as part of the inaugural Business Of Design Week (BODW), envisioned to become Asia’s leading international conference dedicated to design, brand, and innovation. The week also marked the official opening of HKDC’s new premises in a historic building granted by the government of Special Administrative Region.

HKDC is active in organizing events and activities that promote the use of design in business, and are the first organization in Hong Kong dedicated to promoting design development among different disciplines. It takes the leadership role in being the focal point of design in Hong Kong, and by creating a sense of belonging among designers, offers a united platform where ideas, knowledge, and information can be shared throughout the design community and local business sectors.

Delivered a year to the day after the traumatic events of 9/11, Peters’ talk addressed broad issues relating to the impact that today’s design will have on the world of tomorrow. The abstract follows…

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The Future—by Design

We live in uncertain times—times of political, social and economic instability—times of information overload, overwhelming change, over-branding, and overly powerful media empires. Wealth, health, knowledge and technological progress are not shared equally. For many of our six billion fellow human beings, the world is a place of imbalance, inequity, injustice, and suffering. Globalization of information and trade threatens to turn everything into an economic model—with risk to indigenous identities, to vernacular visual languages, to the historical roles of tribes and nations, and to the equilibrium of individuals.

Designers have an important role to play in shaping the future. Design is powerful, it shapes culture and it influences societal values. Design can inform, empower, and clarify—or it can obscure, encumber, and manipulate. In an age of information and ideas, graphic designers are in a unique position of immense influence and responsibility—they can choose to be champions of the unique things that dignify human beings and that make our civilizations meaningful, or they can choose to act as ‘servile minions’ of profit-driven agendas and thereby maintain the status quo.

Designers possess unique abilities with which to analyze scenarios, envision outcomes, create integrative synergies, and give form to universally equitable and sustainable solutions. This presentation shares viewpoints from the worldwide design community, offer predictions, and aims to provoke action—on how visionary design thinking and smart practice can play a positive role in shaping the future.

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