Kigge Hvid, CEO of INDEX: Design to Improve Life – Denmark’s unique global humanitarian outreach program – has been named winner of the Hong Kong Design Centre’s 2009 Design Leadership Award, which singles out world business leaders who have successfully combined strong corporate leadership and design excellence.
At a gala award ceremony in Hong Kong Friday evening, Kigge Hvid set several precedents: Kigge Hvid’s INDEX:, the Danish-based organization, which applies “design thinking” to major world challenges, is the first non-profit organization to be honored by the Judging Panel and Board of Directors of the Hong Kong Design Centre. Hvid is the first female and the first European recipient of the Design Leadership Award.
In accepting the award Friday night in Hong Kong, Kigge Hvid said, “I am very proud and honored to receive this prestigious award on behalf of INDEX:. Over the past seven years, the relatively small and very flexible INDEX: team has worked hard to put an international focus on the necessity to unfold the potential of design to improve people’s lives substantially – reflecting Denmark’s brand as the natural cradle of such a responsible approach.”
In naming Kigge Hvid, Hong Kong Design Center Board Chairman Victor Lo said, “I cannot think of a better role model among international business leaders who understand design and support design so strongly and with such rigor as yourself.”
The prestigious award was inaugurated in 2004 and is not necessarily given each year. It is conferred only when the Judging Panel – a blue-ribbon group of design professionals, design promoters and design academics from many parts of the world – determines that it has a candidate worthy of nomination and endorsement.
Previous winners of the Design Leadership Award include Yang Yuan-qing, Chairman of the Lenovo Group, China’s best-selling PC maker, a Fortune 500 company and pioneer in the “home PC” concept; Tadamitsu Matsui, President and CEO of Ryokin Keikaku, parent company of MUJI, the famous Japanese maker of elegantly simple household goods; James P. Hackett, President and CEO of Steelcase, the purveyor of office furniture, architectural and technological products; Kun-Hee Lee, Chairman and CEO of Samsung, one of the several best-recognized and widely sold technology names in the world and a leader in the development of design in Korea.
Hong Kong’s singular distinction comes to Kigge Hvid and INDEX: following the organization’s major success with its third round in conferring the world’s richest prize (500,000 euros) in design. The INDEX:Award is the key instrument by which INDEX: encourages, celebrates and drives implementation of Design to Improve Life among a fast-growing network of designers, business and political leaders, academic thinkers and design students in 78 countries.
Drawn from an initial nomination pool of more than 720 designs from 54 countries, INDEX:Award 2009 recognizes signal innovation – both in products and systems designs – that address pressing social issues in the five INDEX: categories of body, home, work, play and community.
Funded by government bodies, foundations and corporations, INDEX: ennobles the fame of Danish design and its humanist principles, making Copenhagen the world hub for the concept of Design to Improve Life. INDEX: not only gives the biennial INDEX:Award, but also operates year-’round international programs to bring design process into education, business and political settings, benefiting people in both the developed and developing worlds.
The INDEX:Award Exhibition, inaugurated in August at Copenhagen’s Kongens Nytorv, or King’s New Square, now is on view in INDEX:Partner City Singapore after a blockbuster run seen by 2.9 million people in Seoul, Korea. The exhibition next returns to Europe for viewings in several key Danish cities – with its educational school service program – before returning to international tour.
In a major new initiative, INDEX: is in tests with an unprecedented design curriculum in three major high-school settings in Denmark, taking the principles of design thinking to students who learn to apply them to problem-solving in many aspects of life. INDEX:’s new Horizons Initiative program is being developed for 2010 to bring design process to bear on world challenges in association with major global media partners.