Norway has historically been a nation of raw materials, but times are changing. The era of declining oil production is just around the corner, and this change demands preparation.
Striving towards the goal of becoming one of the world’s most innovative nations, we are drawing upon the unique competence of our designers as a business development tool in order to achieve success.
The Norwegian Design Council actively promotes this country’s design and designers on the world stage. Our efforts have been greeted with enthusiasm, confirming our convictions that Norwegian designers have much to offer. Companies are following suit, realizing that design is not simply about aesthetics, but very much about business. This understanding is widespread in Norway; as a survey commissioned by the Norwegian Design Council has shown that as many as 83 percent of Norwegian managers see design as being important for bottom-line business results.
In working with Norwegian design and designers, the Norwegian Design Council has established concrete criteria for applying design to both aesthetics as well as to the art of doing business. Criteria that include innovative features and concepts, form and aesthetic quality, holistic impression and coherence, construction and choice of materials, functionality and user advantages, user friendliness, functionality, communication value and environmental aspects are of fundamental design importance as Norwegian products and services are developed to meet the world market. These criteria are also used when selecting winners of the Award for Design Excellence and our other awards.
The Norwegian Government is firmly behind our designers. In 2005, the Government declared a National Year of Design, and in February that same year, Norway’s first National Center for Design and Architecture was opened, a venue for creativity that has become an important and vibrant meeting place for business people, designers, politicians, the public and the media. That same year, the Center received the prestigious National Building Prize. In 2006, the number of visitors exceeded 40,000, exceeding all expectations.
Here at the Norwegian Design Council, we find that Norway’s increasing awareness of the importance of design is having a synergy effect that echoes on the international stage. During the exhibition 100% Norway, which took place during the London Design Festival in 2006, more than 100 Norwegian designers and architects attracted more than their share of media and public attention. This type of positive feedback shows that Norwegian design is moving in the right direction.
Even so, some of our most brilliant designers are just becoming known outside Norway, and many of our younger talents are still waiting for their international breakthrough. This is going to change, and by taking the time to read this magazine I believe that you will begin to understand why.
Jan R. Stavik
Managing Director The Norwegian Design Council