World Economic Forum puts design issues in spotlight

Issues of design and its wider importance will be under debate at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting at Davos, Switzerland, which runs from today until 30 January.

The theme of this year’s meeting is Shared Norms for the New Reality.

The organisers say this year’s theme reflects the challenges of ’living in a world that is becoming increasingly complex and interconnected’ and ’experiencing an erosion of common values that undermines public trust in leadership as well as future economic growth and political stability’.

As with previous years, design has a permanent place on the agenda, with contributions from members of the WEF’s Global Agenda Council on Design and others.

Paola Antonelli, senior curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and member of the GACD, is running one of the key sessions, an Ideas Lab panel discussion entitled Design for the New Reality, which explicitly links in to the overall Davos theme.

This session will address urban renewal for social and economic development, product designing for sustainability, scarcity-driven design and gaining value from data visualisation. It will feature contributors including Danish architect Bjarke Ingels and Adam Bly, founder and chief executive of Seed.

Focusing more specifically on design’s value to business will be the session entitled From Chief Executive Officer to Chief Design Officer, which will look at ’how can design thinking – which places a premium on innovation, teamwork, agile thinking and user value – drive business success?’.

This will feature Ideo chief executive Tim Brown, Phillip Dilley, chairman of Arup Group, and Keith Sawyer, associate professor at Washington University’s Department of Education. This session will be moderated by Robert L Sutton, professor of Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University in the US.

Antonelli will also be presenting a talk on exhibition Talk To Me, which will ’explore the world of communication between people and things’. Talk To Me, curated by Antonelli, is set to run at MoMA in New York from 24 July until 7 November.

As well as holding their own council meeting, members of the GACD will also be taking part in a cross-council meeting with members of the Global Agenda Councils on Ageing, Innovation and Japan.

Other Davos attendees include Cameron Sinclair, co-founder of Architecture for Humanity, who will be attending an Ideas Lab session on rebuilding Haiti and debates on architecture, and Mohsen Mostafavi, dean of the Harvard University Graduates School of Design.

Davos 2011

The theme for this year’s meeting is based on:

  • Responding to the new reality
  • The economic outlook and defining policies for inclusive growth
  • Supporting the G20 agenda
  • Building a risk response network

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