Eeum Design Connects

The Object of Design

The International Design Congress

By Matthew Endacott

The world is driven by innovation. Throughout history people have created inventions to propel our quality of life to new heights. The possibilities of modern technology are limitless. There is a 3-D printer that can print ten houses in twenty-four hours from scrap materials, prosthetic limbs that are capable of being controlled by the person’s mind, solar panel roadways that would eliminate the need for fossil fuels, among countless other designs in every field imaginable. Ideas, no matter how big or small, can affect society in positive ways. Designers turn these ideas into creation. Beginning October 17, Gwangju will host the Eeum Design Connects: International Design Congress (IDC) to foster communication between local and international professionals, students, educators, and the public.

The conference is the largest event for the design industry with 3,000 leading design experts from over 30 countries in numerous fields of design and technology gathering to review the increasing role of design in our lives. It’s also a great opportunity for students and professionals to network for a broad range of fields, such as, visual, industrial, interior, service and interactive design.

Eeum, this year’s theme, is a Korean word that translates loosely to ‘joint’ or ‘connector.’ It carries both a utilitarian and poetic meaning that Koreans delightfully use in multiple contexts and situations. The Congress seeks to explore this idea of design as connector from a multifarious range of thinking, and points of view. Gwangju was chosen to showcase the cultural and economic values of Korean design and to gain feedback and exchange knowledge between world-class design professionals to help the city and world grow by bridging the gap between the past, present and future.

During the Congress there will be sub-themes for each day. Monday, October 19 will be “Open and Create” and will focus on creating awareness of design processes and projects. Tuesday will be “Share and Participate.” This day’s proceedings will emphasize the core values of the entire event: the creation of an open platform for multi-disciplinary discussions and collaboration. Wednesday will be “Innovate and Continue,” which will drive discussions about design, especially it’s connectedness, sustainability and future applications. Each day will feature a slew of speakers and workshops.

One of the many admirable key-note speakers presenting is Hartmut Esslinger of frog design (originally esslinger design). Esslinger began his company with the hope of “improving the everyday lives of people.” The company helped Sony produce the first standalone television, the black-box Sony Trinitron, and the Walkman. In 1984, frog designed a language for Apple in the Apple IIc system, which Time Magazine applauded as the “Design of the Year.” In 1982, Apple’s revenue stood at $700 million. By 1986 it had sky-rocketed to $4 billion. This shows how crucial design is to the success or failure of a product. frog continued to grow, adding a number of clients and innovations in multiple fields. In 2008, frog launched Project Masiluleke, and was praised by The Economist as “the world’s largest field trial in mobile health technology.” The project is the first attempt to tackle South Africa’s HIV epidemic with a mobile solution. Individuals like Mr. Esslinger attending the IDC embody the values of the conference and its hope to elevate the status of design.

With so many avenues to pursue in the field of design we must reach common ground through knowledge to make the world a better place for us all to live. The IDC hopes to provide a rare venue for international thinkers and pioneers in the field to connect and create a greater awareness of the “the responsibility of design.”

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