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5 May 2014

Collaborate to innovate

Collaborate to Innovate: A lesson in UK design thinking. After a whirlwind week in Hanoi, Ellen O’Hara, Head of Business Development, Cockpit Arts, reflects on a pilot programme of Innovation Design training for Vietnamese craft and design businesses 2014.

© Erin Bunting

A blog from Ellen O'Hara, Head of Business Development at Cockpit Arts.

It was late Saturday night when my collaborators, Adam Thow, Head of Retail at Southbank Centre, Helen Johannessen of YoYo Ceramics and I arrived in Hanoi.  We were up bright and early(ish) the next day to soak in what Hanoi had to offer in design terms before embarking on the four day programme of training that kicked off on Monday morning.  We began by delivering a half day seminar on UK design innovation policy, followed by an intensive three day masterclass for 50 selected craft and design businesses.  The aim was to deliver a lesson in creative thinking and collective problem solving – an approach to innovation rather than prescriptive answers to individual or specific business problems.  And the truth be told, we weren’t sure whether it would work until we got stuck in.

Over the three days, participants worked in small groups to explore visual research themes, brand value and story creation, and design development concepts, culminating in a competitive product pitch on day three.  And boy, were they competitive!  The combination of theory, discussion, reflection and application of ideas, reaped impressive results from all six teams, successfully creating a mix of healthy competition, collaborative thinking and networking, which was great to observe.  And the winning team presented not only a compelling brand story and product concept, but even produced a sample - an intricately hand embroidered logo on silk.

© Erin Bunting

A visit to the Hanoi Craft & Design Centre and Bat Trang ceramic village on the Friday offered further insights into two very different aspects of the Vietnamese craft scene – the emerging young talent on the one hand and the established master craftsmen on the other.  Evident across all the businesses I engaged with was an exceptionally high level of technical skill, a highly passionate business owner with vision, and strong willingness to learn.  There is clearly huge potential for exchange between UK and Vietnam design business.  But perhaps what most excited me was planting the seed of new alliances between participants in the masterclass and fostering the desire to collaborate in order to innovate.

Find out more @UK_CE @Cockpit_Arts
Innovation Design was supported by British Council , Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency, Vietnam Ministry of Trade and Industry in partnership with Cockpit Arts.