The vision of the Lithuanian design sector: entrepreneurship, education and internationality


2020 09 24


On Tuesday, the Contemporary Art Centre hosted a discussion “Vision of the Lithuanian Design Sector”, which was attended by the members of the Lithuanian Design Council established in 2019 on the initiative of the Ministries of Culture and Economy and Innovation.

During the meeting, the most sensitive problems of the sector, possible solutions, actions of state institutions that can contribute to the strengthening of the sector and other issues important for the sector were discussed. “The establishment of the Lithuanian Design Council, accelerating activities and this discussion show that the design sector has matured. I am very glad that the initiative to establish the Lithuanian Design Council was supported and involved in its activities by the Ministry of Economy and Innovation, because design, being between business and culture, unites them," said Dr. Gintautė Žemaitytė, the Deputy Minister of Culture.

In the economic context, the design sector is seen as one of the largest areas of cultural and creative industries with innovative potential. In Lithuania, design is also mentioned among the priority themes of the strategy for state support for research and innovation (Smart Specialisation). Nevertheless, the research of the sector in Lithuania in recent years reveals problems related to insufficient evaluation of design in society and business environment, under-representation of the sector at various levels, insufficient cooperation of representatives of the design sector.

Opening the event, the Deputy Minister of Economics and Innovation Jakaterina Rojaka pointed out that businesses that create innovations based on design solutions are discovering new products, services and innovative ways to apply them. In addition, about 80% of companies using strategic design tend to invest or increase investment in innovation development. Eglė Opeikienė, Design Manager, agreed with the Deputy Minister: “One of the best indicators for measuring the value created by design is business involvement. It is very important to publicise good practices when design solutions create added value, as this is the only way for entrepreneurs to feel the benefits of design and be competitive in international markets”.

In economically strong countries, such as Denmark or the United Kingdom, design councils and centers are actively conducting research in the field of design. “It is very disappointing, but in strategic documents in Lithuania design research is not named as scientific research – the field of design is not yet classified among the official fields of science; therefore, it is difficult to cultivate science-based design competence, form a research-based foundation for design sector development. Lithuania is a small country, it is easy to test various models here; therefore, we have the potential to become one of the countries conducting innovative design research in Europe,” said Rūta Valušytė, Head of the Design Centre of Kaunas University of Technology. During the event, the participants discussed that not only research, but also unique product design solutions could make Lithuania famous. The Lithuanian Design Council plans to look for ways to increase the awareness of the Lithuanian design abroad; therefore, it is very important to single out priority international events and consistently participate in them.

One of the council's future tasks is to ensure design education in the pre-school age, which is what Finns do successfully. The discussion questioned the compliance of technology lessons at schools with modern trends, and sought a balance between design theory and practice skills in higher education curricula.

Another problem highlighted in the discussion is a lack of protection of intellectual property. Lithuania cannot boast of a large number of design registrations, although at first glance it seems that a lot of products are being created. Lina Mickienė, the representative of the State Patent Bureau, expressed the expectation that the growth of the number of design registrations would be stimulated by the registration cost compensation measures to be introduced in the upcoming years.

The Lithuanian Design Council was established as an advisory voice to the Ministries of Culture and Economy and Innovation. The main task of the council is to contribute to the formation of a long-term continuous design policy by providing recommendations to ministries on strategic planning in the field of design, development programs, public funding priorities, strengthening the international competitiveness of the design industry and other relevant issues. During the last year of the Council’s activity, eight meetings were held, which contributed to the improvement of the measure “DESIGN LT” administered by the LVPA, proposals were submitted for the preparation of the implementation concept of the action assigned to the Ministry of Culture in the DNA Plan of the Future Economy of Lithuania, the initiative of presenting Lithuania abroad was discussed with the representatives of the image group of the Government Chancellery, the importance of design history and curation was discussed with the Lithuanian National Museum of Art, proposals were made for priority international events in the design sector. At the end of the discussion, Algirdas Orantas, the member of the council, was optimistic about the future, believing that this council could become the basis for the establishment of a single coordinating body for the design sector.

The moderator of the event, Audronė Drungilaitė, the chairperson of the Lithuanian Design Council, was glad that she had managed to bring together experts with various competencies, and hoped that in the future she would be able to persuade the representatives of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports to join the council.

The Lithuanian Design Council consists of the following eight members: Audronė Drungilaitė, Member of the Board of the Lithuanian Design Forum, Algirdas Orantas, Chairperson of the Lithuanian Design Association, designer, doctoral student of Vilnius Academy of Arts and lecturer of Vilnius Gediminas Technical University Vytautas Gečas, lecturer of Vytautas Magnus University Rita Kaupelienė, Jonas Malinauskas, Head of the Department of Graphic Design, Vilnius College of Technologies and Design, Eglė Opeikienė, Member of the Board of the National Association of Creative and Cultural Industries, Lina Vaičiūnienė, Adviser of the Business and Science Cooperation Division of the Innovation and Industry Department of the Ministry of Economics and Innovation, Rūta Valušytė, Head of the Design Centre of Kaunas University of Technology.

The discussion “Vision of the Lithuanian Design Sector” was a part of the “Design Week” festival taking place in Lithuania on September 21–27.