The Design Ambassador Project —Networking the global design industry


The present age requires that we see design not just from the viewpoint of a single nation but from a global perspective. More than ever, designers are being asked to create a network between Japan and nations overseas. In a society where design is born of interdisciplinary cooperation and where the movement of people has never been so dynamic, there's a growing number of opportunities to get together with people you never would have met otherwise. It is even possible to link up with people you never would have believed would be sympathetic with your work and later find out they were connected through a mutual acquaintance. This activity might even allow designers to build new personal networks.

It is in this context that the Japan Institute of Design Promotion launched The Design Ambassador Project. The aim here is to invite opinion leaders working in the field of design overseas to visit Japan as Design Ambassadors to Japan in order to build an international network and deepen exchange with the leaders of design in Japan who are tasked with creating the future.

The Design Ambassador Project had its start with a proposal by Kohei Nishiyama and Kazuo Tanaka who are members of the Board of the Japan Institute of Design Promotion to “create a global network for people involved in Japanese design.” Recently, Japan's presence has been somewhat lackluster in global design associations such as Icsid and various conferences held around the world. It's not just that people involved in Japanese design should be better connected to the world; it is imperative. Accordingly, with the assistance of Judit Várhelyi, a visiting professor at Tama Art University and former Board Member of Icsid, The Design Ambassador Project was launched under the leadership of the Japan Institute of Design Promotion.

Not only does The Design Ambassador Project involve inviting a Design Ambassador to Japan from overseas, it also selects a “Design Ambassador from Japan” from among designers, business community, and people working in government. The project's aim is an exchange of ideas among individuals of special ability.

A major feature of this project is not only the concrete exchange among talented individuals but also its use of the business SNS LinkedIn as a networking tool. The aim is to build a global network for people involved in design by establishing a Design Ambassador Project group on LinkedIn and gradually connect networks not only among project members but also future design ambassadors to be invited to Japan such as Michael Thomson and LinkedIn participants at large.

Concerning the details please see the Design Ambassador official site.

The first person to be designated a Design Ambassador in The Design Ambassador Project is Michael Thomson of the UK, an expert in design strategy and national design policy. We will carry his interview article soon.

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