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Designing the future – The Norwegian design council & Design Norway

Norwegians have been traditionally curious of the world around them, from exploring unknown distant lands to the close beauty of their spectacular homeland. This unity with nature, combined with a deep-seated value of common sense and practical solutions, lays the...

The Norwegian Design Council (NDC) plays a central role in promoting and integrating design within Norwegian business, society and culture, a responsibility with results that are felt far beyond Norway’s borders. The NDC has a full understanding that Norwegian companies must excel within their respective lines of work in order to tackle the challenges of a global marketplace, a world with knowledgeable and demanding customers who know good value when they see it and have high expectations to match.

Providing the Tools

Through programmes and services offered by the NDC, Norwegian companies are encouraged and empowered to use design as a tool for innovation and greater competitiveness. By offering consultancy services related to development of products and services, packaging design, branding, corporate identity projects, workshops, seminars and a wide range of similar services, the NDC sees to it that Norwegian companies are well prepared.
Norwegian Design Council initiatives are put into action by highly trained consultants working with companies all over Norway, establishing and carrying out design-based business development projects. As CEO Jan Stavik says, “To achieve our goal of increasing understanding, knowledge and use of design as a tool, it is key to make design – and design support – accessible to companies throughout Norway through cooperation, special activities and consulting services.”

New technology leads to award winning design, the Trøkk 16 Loop Lamp.

Strength in Cooperation

Financed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), the Norwegian Design Council is an important part of the governmental strategy to increase the competitiveness of Norwegian trade and industry. In addition, the NDC also works in close cooperation with a wide range of other Norwegian organizations, including the strategic cooperation with Innovation Norway. This close alliance is geared to strengthen design in Norway, with the ultimate goal being the delivery of continually improving products and services to businesses and consumers both in Norway and abroad.
Innovation Norway works with companies through different phases of their business development process, beginning with the assessment of marketing opportunities and priorities, and moving onwards to entrance strategies, establishment and expansion. Innovation Norway offers a number of services in all the various phases with a network of design consultants working all across Norway (see the separate Innovation Norway article in this magazine).
The Norwegian Design Council works with Innovation Norway by identifying and defining new areas of focus; development projects and workshops; and a range of other support and services. All of this activity is this based on ongoing dialogue with associations such as the Norwegian Industrial Designers (NID), Grafill and the Norwegian Organization of Interior Architects and Furniture Designers.

Taking Care of Business

One pillar of Norwegian design strength is the country’s top notch educational structure. Schools that include the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Oslo National Academy of the Arts and the Bergen National Academy of the Arts are well known for their excellence in education. This creative talent is then supported by member organizations that are in place to provide professional support; NID, GRAFILL, the Norwegian Organization of Interior Architects and Furniture Designers, and other key supporters.
NID is the association for professional industrial designers in Norway. Members of this association work within product design, public and transportation design, graphic and packaging design, communication and new media design, furniture and textile design. As with the Norwegian Design Council, NID aims to increase awareness of good design, as well as to promote its cultural and economical significance.
The Norwegian Organization of Interior Architects and Furniture Designers represents their members in contributing to solid quality within areas such as project planning of public and private interiors for new and old buildings, selection of colour and materials and management, leadership and advice within interior projects. Finally, GRAFILL is the Norwegian organization for visual communication within the areas of graphic design, illustrations, interactive design, animation and creative development, representing the leading Norwegian artists and craftsmen within this area.

Creativity happens when Bleed Design meets Arne & Carlos fashion.
©Design:Bleed/Photo: Chris Harrison

Tying it all Together

The Norwegian Design Council is active year-round in planning and staging activities and events, including the annual national Design Day. This high-profile event focuses on companies, designers and solutions that clearly exemplify Norway’s creativity in developing commercially-sound products and services using design elements and strategies. Other events include the 2008 European Business Conference on Inclusive Design, profiling new knowledge and demonstrating benefits of design as a profitable strategy for innovation and commercial success.
Possibly the most hotly contested annual awards in Norway are those organized by the NDC. Each year scores of companies compete for various awards that include the annual Award for Design Excellence, and the Honours Award for Design Excellence; given to companies and designers who have developed successful design solutions. Other awards include the International Design Award, Classic Award for Design Excellence and the Young Talent Award.

Dressed for Success

The Norwegian Design Council is situated in the Norwegian Center for Design and Architecture (DogA), an award-winning building in a historic area of Oslo featuring renovated architectural gems from the last century and before. NDC shares this location with Norsk Form, the Norwegian information and project-based institution in the field of design, architecture and urban planning. Norsk Form and the NDC have the common goal of championing design and architecture in this country (see the separate Architecture article in this magazine).
The Norwegian Design Council knows that user-oriented designers are possibly the most accessible and efficient innovation tools available in product development. With NDC support, Norwegian designers will continue to “raise the bar” with products that are aesthetic, sustainable, user-friendly, environmentally responsible and commercially successful.