Sunday, April 10, 2011

Designplatform Flanders launched in Brussels

On Tuesday 29th March the Designplaftorm Flanders was officially launched at the well-attended first Design Summit of Flanders.

Following an opening interview with Bernard de Potter, General Director of The Enterprise Agency in Flanders, Kris Peeters, Minister-President of the Flemish Government and Minister of Economy, Ingrid Leiten, Viceminister-president of the Flemish Government and Minister of Innovation and Joke Schauvliege, Flemish Minister of Environment, Nature and Culture, agreed to support and facilitate the development of the design platform. At the close of the event, they witnessed the six participating design organisations together signing the Charter for the Designplatform Flanders.

The Charter can be found here and the six partners of the Designplatform Flanders can be found here.

The vision of the Designplatform Flanders as stated at the event, (and translated here very roughly from the Dutch), is:

To position design as an essential means for the transformation of Flanders into a creative, competitive, multi-faceted and human knowledge economy, in order to create in a permanent manner, prosperity, employment and a friendly society within the context of the global challenges.

I had the honour to be invited to the stage during the ceremony to speak briefly about the first workshops, as well as the positioning of the initiative in an international design policy context. I referred for example, to the founding members that catalysed the creation of the Hong Kong Design Centre; the ‘One-Voice’ workshop which I ran some years ago in South Africa with the Design Institute.

In many countries, design organisations are numerous and fragmented. Flanders is taking a lead position in showing how organisations can come together to inspire new synergies that position themselves more powerfully internationally and create a clearer focus for design and design thinking for their own governments, industry and society.

I also took the opportunity to refer to the way in which DESIGN CONNECT's facilitation of meticulously planned visioning workshops, (rooted in learning theory and design methods), can help a diverse range of participants to find their 'common ground' from where they can then springboard to new forms of conversation that would have previously been difficult to achieve.

Even now, at the time of its launch only one year after the original visioning workshops, the Designplatform Flanders has already achieved something remarkable.

It has galvanised the Flanders’ government to commit to design as an important and integral aspect of economic growth and social wellbeing, (particularly in a time of recession). And this was evidenced by the willingness of three senior Ministers to witness the signing of the Charter and publicly, through impressive speeches, to commit themselves and their departments to supporting and fostering design as a strategic tool for growth and well being in Flanders.

There is still much for the platform partners to do over the coming months, but the mandate is clear and the ground has been set.

I congratulate all the participants on the journey travelled so far and wish the Designplatform Flanders every success as it moves to its next stage of development.

The press release (in Dutch) can be downloaded here

The Design Summit website is here.

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