With a core team of 32 staff, the Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC) is behind leading international events - most notably the annual Business of Design Week - that have put Hong Kong design on the world map.
Major cities, such as Shenzhen, Beijing, Shanghai, and Singapore, have similar publicly-funded centres to promote design. But HKDC has won international recognition for its string of flagship events.
Its upcoming Knowledge of Design Week (KODW), to be held next month, will feature interactive workshops, conferences and networking sessions with the world's top design gurus and business leaders under the theme "Design for Asia and China".
"We have become a well-regarded design promotion agency in the world," says HKDC executive director Dr Edmund Lee Tak-yue. "Our programmes aim to inspire growth, advance skills and enable our stakeholders - designers, professionals, executives and the public - to be resourceful and be better prepared for a competitive and changing world.
"Design has a direct impact on all our work and social and living environment. Shopping mall designs can give shoppers a satisfying experience. It is not just about making something look good, but also using design to deliver a service or product that can enhance customers' experience."
Lee is also a member of the Design Council of the Federation of Hong Kong Industries and Advisory Committee on Design, Licensing and Marketing of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.
There is a huge global market for enhanced products and services, according to the Creative Economy Report 2010 jointly issued last December by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development and the United Nations Development Programme. It states the total value of global exports of creative products - including arts and crafts, audiovisuals, books, films and the like - reached US$592 billion in 2008, more than double the 2002 figure.
Lee stresses the growing importance of cross-disciplinary knowledge. While architectural, product and interior design matter, the quality of customer service is also key to success. In addition, flagship events such as KODW have helped promote exchanges among key players in various fields.
In line with its growth, the centre plans to hire more project managers who share its team's passion for driving value creation through design and innovation.
"Our staff must share our public mission. Even if they do not have a design degree, they should have an interest in the field and believe that design can result in a better life," Lee stresses.
"We will provide continuous training for staff to help them develop the necessary skills, such as the ability to think out of the box, design and deliver effective programmes, as well as the skills to connect with people across disciplines. Good project managers should be able to get things done on time, with quality and within budget."
Lee is keen to build a supportive culture at HKDC. "Professionalism, respect for others, an open mind and an ability to create, co-create and work with others are key attributes.
"I want every one of my staff to prosper and thrive professionally and personally," Lee says.