DESIGNING THE BERGEN REGION
David John Smith for Norway Communicates.
Europe is a complex continent, reflected in the membership of the AER (Assembly of European Regions) with no less than 270 member regions from 33 countries. Search the regions via Internet with the words “region design” or “design region” – and you will come up with only one alternative – “Design Region Bergen”.
Design Region Bergen (DRB) is the member organization that works to unite the creativity of the region’s designers through events and other activities that raise the profile of all aspects of design as an integral part of life. This spans the design spectrum from furniture and interior design, to clothes and jewelry, to visual communication, industrial design and the unlimited future of Internet design.
“Region Bergen” is a reference the county of Hordaland on the southwest coast of Norway. The city of Bergen is the central hub here in the region, recognized as the unofficial capital of western Norway and sometimes also referred to as the Atlantic Coast Capital of Norway. It is here in the “Capital of the West” that DRB makes its home.
Inspiring and motivating, building knowledge and skills, connecting individuals and companies as well as initiating and managing projects, DRB is led by Monica Hannestad and is dedicated to bringing regional design creative forces together to bring added value to the already vibrant commercial, societal and cultural forces here in the western part of Norway.
The design sector here in Bergen Region is the second largest in the nation – one of the main reasons being the creative and innovative atmosphere available to students at the Bergen National Academy of the Arts. Once educated, many find no reason to leave – and this “Rise of the Creative Class” is giving the city and the region a special feel that is infectious.
Creativity attracts Success
The Bergen Region has traditionally been a creative haven for large manufacturers in the furniture and textile industry – an industry that has only been strengthened by the close collaboration with regional designers. The principles of design, including the all-important elements of Universal Design – has also become increasingly used in relation to the larger industries here such as the marine sector, maritime, oil and gas – as well as with the creative branches such as television, film, advertising and music.
This lends to a diversity of design spanning from major agencies to talented small design companies and “free-lancers” specializing in all genres from 3D design, games, printing, packaging, product design, illustration, communication, service, interiors, furniture, interaction, textile, environmental and web design.
RAFF – the Bergen Region’s Design Week
What is the one of the best ways to really experience the breadth of design here? Visit Bergen in the early part of September and you will literally be able walk through the world of design, exploring the city as part of a weeklong event called “Raff”. The Raff event is known as a “Venue for Design” for both established designers as well as newcomers in the Bergen Region, and is a showcase for the creative energy that abounds here.
The first Raff was held in 2010 and was a success for participating designers and boutique exhibitors as well as spectators. Firmly supported by the county of Hordaland, the city of Bergen and a solid sponsor base; and project managed by DRB, Raff is a truly interactive experience. Spectators use an easy to read map as walk through downtown Bergen, experiencing creative exhibitions around the clock through the week.
Looking Back, Looking Ahead
The 2010 event was an exercise in creativity that began with a kick off on August 30th at the Hotel Norge, then on to the “Raff på Bryggen” (Raff at the Wharf) on September 2nd – featuring storytelling, games, workshops and even a swordfight; onwards to a celebration at street party on the 3rd, and culminating in one of the high points of the week - the closing event on the event of the 4th that was held at the Hotel Norge.
This 2010 success that included a well-received Design Seminar has led the way towards Raff becoming an annual event – and the 2011 Raff in September looks to duplicate and even surpass the successes of last year. The 2011 Raff promises to be creative, stimulating – and a lot of fun – a venue for creative design here in the streets of Bergen.
Design as a Cultural Industry
Raff is just one example of the city of Bergen and the Hordaland County Council recognizing the value of strengthening the design as a cultural industry. Design Region Bergen works with the government, industry, education institutions – and of course its membership – in working to make the Bergen region a recognized leader in design-driven business and community development.
This also fits well with the Norwegian Government’s emphasis on innovation, as it is becoming more and more understood that excellence in design can have a profound synergy effect on industry.
DRB.no: A Design Showcase
Design is so more than simply strikingly good looks or imagery – it has a rainbow of concrete elements such as substance, depth and consistency. Design reflects life – it is so more than simply esthetics – but a deep functionality combined with an understanding how products, services and communication work both independently and in relation to each other.
The Design Region Bergen website enables its membership to reach out to the region and beyond with their own profile information – mirroring the strategic use of design in Hordaland County that is gaining more and more appreciation far beyond its borders.
For more information, see the Design Region Bergen website.