Thu, Oct 11, 2007 - Page 13 News List

British design shares the love

The creative industries are some of the UK's most successful exports. Over the next 10 days they will be flaunting their style in Taipei

By Ian Bartholomew  /  STAFF REPORTER

From TopShop to Grand Theft Auto and Wedgewood to Benoy Architects, Britain's creative industries are thriving. The exhibition Love and Money showcases the best of British design and aims to make inroads into Taiwan's economy.

PHOTOS: COURTESY OF THE BRITISH COUNCIL

The creative industries have been billed as the way of the future, a transformation of the abstruse world of arts and design into a driving force behind commercial development and a vibrant, sophisticated retail culture. This industry has been growing rapidly in the UK, and London has been transformed into "arguably the creative capital of the world," according to David Percival, head of UK Trade and Investment in Taiwan. Love and Money, an exhibition of the best of British design, has set out to showcase the UK's success, and also to establish a platform for cooperation between UK designers and investors in Asia.

The commercial intention of the show is right there in its title. While the purpose of design is certainly to make beautiful things, this is not really enough, as plenty of artists in Taiwan have repeatedly discovered. "When they [designers] do the design, they love it, ... but there is also a big commercial need out there for them to do business and bring in the money," said Amanda Lin (林君玲), the senior commercial officer with the British Trade and Cultural Office who is overseeing the launch of Love and Money in Taipei. The ability to link the love and the money has been crucial to the success of the creative industries in the UK and is a source of envy among many nations that wish to emulate this success. (Creative industries now account for 8.2 percent of GDP in the UK.)

"It is not just about general design. A lot of it is to target the specific needs of Taiwan," said Percival.

"Taiwan's companies, especially consumer electronics companies, are increasingly becoming brand companies (rather than contract manufacturers). When you are doing your own brand, design becomes much more important. You are no longer just selling on price, but on quality and an image. This is the opportunity for us to work with Taiwanese companies ... . They [Taiwanese companies] don't just work with British designers, but also with British branding companies and marketing companies," Percival said.

Exhibition Notes

The main exhibition, which will feature stands by major British design-related firms as diverse as Penguin Books, Rockstar Games (publishers of videogame Grand Theft Auto), Studio Myerscough (which designs for Wedgewood) and TopShop (the fashion line). For a full line up of exhibitors, see www.britishcouncil.org/arts-design-love-and-money.htm.

* Today until Oct. 21

* 4F Taipei 101 Mall, free admission

* Information about workshops and seminars can be found at the British Trade and Cultural Office Web site at www.britishembassy.gov.uk


The focus on architectural issues is not coincidental either. Percival points to the massive urban development projects that Taiwan is planning. "There is around US$12 billion of projects that are going to be up for grabs in Taiwan over the next five years. ... We are looking at projects like the National Exhibition Center in Kaohsiung and the ideas for a new financial services center around Taipei Main Station."

Love and Money has toured five countries in Asia (and will be moving on to South Korea after it wraps up in Taipei), but according to Percival, the Taiwan show has evolved into the biggest of all, largely due to the great interest of local companies. While the exhibition at Taipei 101 will doubtless present a fascinating showcase of what British designers of every sort are doing, much of the activity for Love and Money will center on the "wrap around events," most notably the UK architecture seminars featuring Adams Kara Taylor, Creative Designs International and Benoy Architects and the Design Forum with Industrial Facilities and Wedgewood, targeted at Taiwan's creative industry professionals.

"These are all commercially proven designers, designers who work in business and run successful design houses or architectural firms. ... It is not just about how important good design is for the quality of life, but that these guys can also make money out of it," Percival said. The success of the UK has been acknowledged in Taiwan in the most telling terms: The number of Taiwanese students going to the UK to enroll in design-related programs has increased by 30 percent over the last three years.

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