24 October 2000
Seoul (Korea) - Official delegates from 15 Asia-region nations have met for two days in Seoul, Korea to share information regarding the state of the graphic design and visual communication profession in their countries.
Seoul (Korea) - Official delegates from 15 Asia-region nations, including Australia and Russia, have met for two days in Seoul, Korea to share information regarding the state of the graphic design and visual communication profession in their countries. Members of the International Council of Graphic Design Associations (Icograda), as well as representatives of nations which do not have formal design organizations, presented reports and joined in open exchange. This unique meeting represented the first time that these diverse nations have formally met to compare opportunities and challenges related to design and visual communications.

Participants included Australia, China (Mainland and Hong Kong), India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Turkey, and Vietnam. Candid reports and open exchange about the state of the graphic design profession brought some fascinating facts and figures to light. Estimates regarding the number of professional practicing designers range from 10 or less in Laos to 100,000 in China. Some nations have no universities or colleges teaching graphic design, while others enjoy a thriving design education environment. Japan, for example, has 50,000 students studying design at any given time, with 10,000 design graduates joining the profession each year. Korea, with a population of 45 million, has an estimated 300,000 designers and visual communicators, and is seeing an estimated 30,000 enter the communication design field each year.

One of the greatest challenges that all of these Asian nations face is the retention of unique cultural heritage in the face of the global media explosion. Professor Katsui Matsuo of Tokyo stated: "What makes a country and society strong is the cultural equity and intellectual property it posesses. Design is a part of culture."

Don-Ryun Chang, organizer of this remarkable Icograda Regional Meeting and himself a practicing designer and educator in Korea, offered the following summary: "We live in the biggest continent of the world. Sharing our knowledge - cultural, technological, and professional - will allow us to grow together in this region. Today is a wonderful start. Let us continue the dialogue, with compassion, sincerity, and harmony."

Walter Jungkind, Professor Emeritus of the University of Alberta, Canada, a former President of Icograda 1974 to 1977, and an official observer at this meeting stated: "This sounds a lot like our discussions in Europe 30 years ago, just after the formation of Icograda. When designers in individual nations come together in exchange and dialogue, great things can happen." Participants of the Icograda Regional Meeting were unanimous in their desire to continue the exchange. Plans for more formal meetings and exchanges will be announced in the near future.

Icograda organizes Regional Meetings of design associations in conjunction with Congresses, Conferences, and Board Meetings around the world. Delegates attending this historical Asian Regional Meeting had gathered to attend the Icograda Millennium Congress, Oullim 2000 Seoul with the central theme of "Oullim - the Great Harmony", a sold-out event which will take place at COEX in Seoul, Korea from 25 - 27 October 2000. Future Icograda Regional Meetings will take place in Amsterdam in January 2001, followed by another in Zagreb, Croatia in April 2001.

Icograda is the representative international organization for graphic design and visual communication, with 66 member associations in 43 countries worldwide. Founded in London in 1963, Icograda holds consultative status with UNESCO, UNIDO, and the Council of Europe.

For further information please contact:

Thierry Van Kerm, Director
Icograda Secretariat
PO Box 5, Forest 2
B-1190 Brussels, Belgium
T: + 32 2 344 58 43
F: + 32 2 344 71 38