President's Message

19 December 2017
Message from the newly-elected 2017-2019 President Zachary Haris Ong (Malaysia)

December 2017

As the President of ico-D, I would like to begin this message by commending the work of Past President David Grossman and the Executive Board of the 2015-2017 term for their exceptional efforts to situate ico-D as a multidisciplinary organisation, building upon the important historical transition of the Council under the leadership of Former President Iva Babaja (2013-2015). The work carried out during both these terms has set the stage for today—a time of exciting dialogue and connection among Members with many new voices joining in.

Giving a voice to Members through the Regional and Platform Meetings has become increasingly successful over the past years, with our next RM scheduled for Malaysia in February and the next PM and AGM in Beijing in September. The Beijing meeting will bring people together to talk about current realities and issues in design and will incorporate an ico-D “Special Meeting”, the first recently held in Montréal, which extends the Council’s outreach to include Design Weeks, Cites and Museums. By widening the network for more regular, in-person sessions, we now hear from lesser-known regions, gain insight into the relationships between many design disciplines, and open the conversation to include all new stakeholders from a range of non-design fields and sectors.

Rounding out a period of improved connectedness between Members and wider spheres, the recent signing of the Montréal Design Declaration marks a special era of empowerment for design. The value of design and its calls to action have been put down in words for everyone to read, digest and respond to, and this is a potent step forward. ico-D will continue to play a role in reporting on outcomes from the Declaration, ultimately calling on the leadership of Members to assist in the concrete actions and projects it has proposed, with aim to focus capacity and effort.

On a more immediate level with regards to the Council, I would like to propose the following objectives for the upcoming term:

  • Amplify efforts that generate value to our Members through Regional, Platform and Special Meetings worldwide;
  • Expand resources through Partnerships and Sponsorships;
  • Expand ico-D ’s role as a voice for the international design community across disciplines by speaking more clearly to outside stakeholders;
  • Strengthen Membership expansion in all regions worldwide.

While the goal is to expand reach, and invite new voices to participate through membership, the Council will also focus on research and topics generated in the past term, namely, the Chengdu Education Project, Lifelong Learning initiatives, Start Young—an initiative of World Design Day, National Design Policy and Indigenous Design research and support, while also generating ample resources for future projects.  Finally, finding better ways to communicate to Members and beyond—to industry, government and the general public, is essential, and will help strengthen ico-D’s role as a design ambassador speaking on behalf of designers worldwide.


Being from a developing country provides me with a unique outlook which I look forward to sharing with the next Board. Having had been on the Board for the past two years under the leadership of President David Grossman, I also look forward to leading with confidence, having familiarised myself with the organisation and learned a great deal. I am grateful to Members of ico-D for giving me the opportunity to act as President of ico-D for the 2017-2019 term and I’m excited to work with you all as we spur ourselves forward.

Zachary Haris Ong
ico-D President 2017-2019