British designers urged to grab Asian opportunities

Design Partners, the overseas trade promotion body, has called for designers to participate in export advisory groups on South Korea, Japan, China and Eastern Europe this week, ahead of a fresh round of trade missions planned for the autumn.

The call coincides with the publication today of a Trade Partners UK report on design opportunities in South Korea, based on ‘scoping’ work carried out by Tangerine partner Martin Darbyshire and Citigate Lloyd Northover director Neil Hudspeth.

The exploratory work shows South Korean clients are prepared to invest in design input from overseas that delivers ‘holistic branding’ and ‘total experiences’ from products and services. South Korean companies may pay double the local rate if an international reputation or reach is required, the report asserts.

Britain is ‘respected for its creative excellence’ and its design work is considered ‘very broad in perspective’, compared to ‘narrow’ Italian and ‘specialist’ German designers.

Christine Losecaat, design industry advisor at Design Partners, says, ‘South Korea is not a quick-win market; it requires dedication, focus, patience and perseverance. British designers are ideally placed to capitalise on its forward-looking approach by establishing a local presence, or by building partnerships and collaborating with local groups.’

The country is one of a number of ‘priority territories’ identified by Design Partners as targets for UK new business growth (DW 5 June).

According to Design Partners figures, investment in design by Korean companies grew from 20.9 per cent to 25.9 per cent between 2000 and 2002, with a current spend of around US$48m (about £29m). The South Korean government hopes to make the country East Asia’s primary design hub by 2007.

Design groups are invited to join a trade mission going to the country in December. Consultancies wishing to get involved should contact The report can be obtained from

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