Designing the Dragon or does the Dragon Design? An Analysis of the Impact of the Creative Industry on the Process of Urban Development of Beijing, China
After reading Richard Florida’s work (e.g. Florida, 2003) on the creative industry and on the importance of the creative class for urban development in post-industrial economies, many cities in Europe and the USA have started to invest in creativity in general and in design in particular. Much less is known about the role of creativity in industrial economies. This paper analyses the role of design in the economic and social development of China’s political and cultural capital Beijing. We will try to identify the main success factors and barriers for the design business and show how design can be further used for social and economic development of the city. Backed up by conspicuous state investments and by fast decision making, industrial areas have been transformed and neighbourhoods have been revitalised, infrastructure has been upgraded, and some modern iconic landmarks are added to the collection of old monuments. Moreover, priority has changed from “Made in China” to “Create in China”, allowing economic activities to move upwards in the value chain. Nevertheless, and despite the presence of key research and art institutes, further developments of the design sector and the use of design in other (manufacturing) sectors will still be a huge challenge.
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