Design Partners, the overseas trade promotion body, is calling for designers to participate in a series of trade missions to Japan, taking place in October as part of the Japanese government’s designated Design Month.
The Design Services Mission will see 25 product, graphics, branding and retail interiors groups visit Japan; and the British Furniture Manufacturers Mission will enable interiors groups to explore opportunities in the country.
Design Partners design industry advisor Christine Losecaat says the missions will target medium-sized businesses in the country, which have been slow to recognise the importance of design.
‘The Japanese government has realised it can no longer compete with countries like China and Korea simply by being an innovative manufacturer,’ she says. ‘There’s a recognition that medium-sized businesses, in particular, need to start using design to differentiate their products.’
The British Embassy, UK Trade & Investment and the British Council are presenting a broad campaign, DesignUK, throughout October to promote British design to a wider audience in Japan.
The campaign will see a series of seminars by design luminaries such as Ron Arad and Terence Conran, and a number of inclusive design seminars by the Helen Hamlyn Research Centre. Furniture, lighting, graphics and interiors exhibitions are also planned.
It is the latest drive by Design Partners to build business in Japan. The organisation has endorsed a three-year strategic plan for the country and UK designers were involved in export advisory groups in July last year (DW 10 July 2003).