Benjamin Li
Nov 20, 2013

Belgium makes case for creative and design prowess at Business of Design Week (BODW)

HONG KONG - As the partner country for this year's Business of Design Week (BODW), Belgium is bringing to Hong Kong a large economic mission, plus its newly crowned Queen Mathilda, in order to build awareness of the country's design sector.

Work of Belgian architect Christine Conix
Work of Belgian architect Christine Conix

BODW is an annual event of the Hong Kong Design Centre, taking place this year from 2 through 7 December.

This marks the first time that Belgium has invested so much time, energy and money to promote its design sector. The objective is to let Hong Kong and the region know that Belgium is not just about beer, chocolate, and Jean-Claude van Damme. Myriam Cops, project coordinator of Belgian Spirit, an initiative of the governments of the Belgian regions of Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia, told Campaign Asia-Pacific about the event lineup intended to promote the country's skills in architecture, design and fashion.Ice Watch

Belgian Spirit is organising a 600-square-metre Belgian pavilion, the “House of the Belgian Spirit”, which will contain the work and products of more than 20 designers and brands. In addition, Belgian Spirit will present “Tales of Heroes”, which will include more than 20 speakers.

Belgium has a population of 11 million people, but its creative professions do not promote themselves much compared with powerhouses such as France and Italy. However, some Belgian fashion designers, like Maison Martin Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten and Raf Simons are already well-known among hipsters, especially those who like a more low-key and understated design.

Jean Paul Lespagnard

Cops said that what Belgian Spirit is trying to accomplish is to showcase what Belgium has to offer. “It is true that for other bigger European cities like Paris, Milan and London, which have strong fashion and design reputation, you could see those same big international brand names all over the world in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Dubai,” she said. “We want to take this particular opportunity to show Asian consumers that there are some interesting Belgian designs available."

Cops admitted that Belgian designers and creative brands need to do more PR and marketing work. "We are very modest people, and we have very good products," she said. "But we we don’t shout about it.”

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