Speech by CE at Business of Design Week opening ceremony (English only) (with photos/video)

     Following is the speech by the Chief Executive, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the opening ceremony of Business of Design Week (BODW) 2017 today (December 7):

Eric (Chairman of the Hong Kong Design Centre, Professor Eric Yim), Victor (Chairman of the BODW Steering Committee of the Hong Kong Design Centre, Mr Victor Lo), Antonello (Consul General of Italy in Hong Kong and Macau, Mr Antonello De Riu), ladies and gentlemen,

     Good morning. It is a great pleasure to join you today at the opening ceremony of Business of Design Week 2017. May I first offer a warm welcome to our dear friends from Italy, this year's BODW partner country, for a second time since our last partnership in 2007. I am particularly pleased to share the happiness of this 10th anniversary of Hong Kong and Italy co-operation because of the small part I played in it - back in May 2015, during my official trip to Rome in my then capacity as the Chief Secretary for Administration, I made this proposal to the Vice Minister for Economic Development of Italy, Mr Carlo Calenda, whose diplomatic adviser was our former Italian Consul General Alessandra Schiavo, who naturally put in all the good words about Hong Kong's design sector. What a happy coincidence!

     Many people today associate the word "design" with the products of our everyday life: sneakers and T-shirts, kitchen appliances, mobile phones and other electronic gadgets brought to stylish life. That's true, of course, but only as far as it goes. Steve Jobs took a smart step further, when he said, "Design is how it works." In short, for Steve Jobs and for the design industry in general, design is about creating things that work, turning ideas into efficient, practical and pleasing products and offerings for us as the end users. This is the business of design, which is what this week-long global gathering of design professionals is all about.

     In its 16th edition, BODW has become the largest design event in Asia, attracting over these years some 120 000 design professionals and aficionados, including all of you here. You are here to be informed and inspired by more than 70 high-profile speakers from 16 countries and regions, together with a creative windfall of forums, seminars and plenary sessions. There will also be designer displays, product showcases and collective spotlights - from design-driven cities, companies and institutions to this year's partner country and its "Italy Makes a Difference" exhibition.

     Italy always makes a difference when it comes to design - to the function, form and endless delights of design. As partner country at BODW 2007, Italy presented a master class on design, style and craftsmanship. This year, Italian creativity and innovation, together with its resplendent cultural heritage, returns along with 24 BODW speakers who are all design and brand leaders. We are indeed most grateful for Italy's support.

     Hong Kong also has what it takes to excel in design. Not only in organising one of the world's great design gatherings, but in serving as a creative hub. Hong Kong, at the heart of Asia, where East meets West, has always embraced diversity, welcoming the best things in life and the beauty, sophistication and style that underlies them. My Government believes in design and the creative industries in general - in their power to boost our economy and to add value, to make Hong Kong a destination city.

     Design is among the fastest-growing of our creative industries and my Government will expand our support of those industries, particularly design. We are doing that not only for their economic value, but also because they open up massive opportunities for our young people. In my maiden Policy Address delivered in October this year, I offered a wide range of support measures for our creative industries. Among others, we will inject an additional HK$1 billion into a fund known as the CreateSmart Initiative, to fast-track the development of our creative industries. We will also expand our promotion of creativity and design thinking throughout Hong Kong - in our schools as well as in government and industry. And Hong Kong Design Centre, which is our long-term partner as well as BODW's organiser, will be actively involved in helping to nurture Hong Kong's design talent.

     My thanks to Eric and the Design Centre for their professionalism and enthusiasm in organising BODW. While BODW has already become the largest design event in Asia, I know that the Design Centre has the ambition to elevate BODW into a global design and tourism event in collaboration with the Hong Kong Tourism Board. I invite you to return, next year and beyond, to witness and to take part in this wonderful transformation.

     Finally, allow me to thank all our collaborators and sponsors for their dedication and for making BODW a global success these past 16 years. I wish you all a rewarding Business of Design Week and a new year resounding with the art, the craft, the sheer splendour, of design.

     Thank you very much.

Ends/Thursday, December 7, 2017
Issued at HKT 11:56