As British designers prepare to head to Japan on a Trade Partners UK mission, the organisation is counselling that groups need to work to convince Japanese clients of the value of design.
Trade Partners UK export promoter Alison Scott says Japan offers real opportunities for designers, but clients need to be educated about the value of design and British creativity.
‘Much Japanese design is undertaken in-house and there are fewer consultancies. Designers don’t currently enjoy as high a status as, say, engineers or R&D specialists,’ says Scott.
She says perceptions are changing. ‘There is growing competition in innovation from companies, in Korea in particular, and Japanese clients are starting to realise they need to keep customer loyalty by understanding their needs and developing stronger brand allegiance.’
Scott doesn’t believe British groups are singled out for any more praise overseas than other countries. ‘[Clients] believe to a degree in British creativity, but not to the exclusion of others,’ she says.
Young designers and start-up groups in particular are hoping to capitalise on opportunities in Japan. From a total of 17 groups joining the mission, a dozen groups are new to the scheme.
Nick Rawcliffe, co-founder of Teca, is taking part this autumn in his first mission. He is hoping to find a client to develop his winter sport project, Snow Bone, and believes a Japanese client will be more receptive to the project than a British one.