This month we had the pleasure of interviewing our WORTH Ambassador from Lithuania, Audrone Drungilaite. Audrone is a board member of the Lithuanian Design Forum, the creative director at EMKO and on the board of BEDA (Bureau of European Design Associations).
She was also responsible for the management of Design Week Lithuania, the biggest design festival in the Baltics for the past five years. We got to know more about her work in the design industry and how she is taking part in the progression of Lithuania.
How do you feel that your work is contributing to the progression of your countries’ creative industry and that of Europe as a whole?
My job is strongly connected to the creative industry. Since June of this year I have been chairing on the Lithuanian Design Council. The main task of the Lithuanian Design Council is to contribute to the long-term development of the national design policy: to provide proposals and recommendations to the Ministers of Culture, Economy and Innovation (as well as to the other institutions) on strategic planning,development of programs, measures and priorities of public funding. The Council will also make proposals for the preservation of the design heritage, will help to strengthen the international competitiveness of the Lithuanian design industry, to draft and develop of legislation in the field of design and other issues of design that the Minister of Culture and the Minister of Economy and Innovation will submit to the Council for consideration.
Since April 2017 I have been on the board of BEDA with which we are actively working on design policy and building some bridges between different stakeholders. Being a part of this network allows me to gain new experiences, to connect the right people, represent the interest of design sector from my country and to make at least a small impact on the European creative sector.
What is the most prominent challenge affecting your countries’ design industry and how may you suggest overcoming it?
I think that all of Europe has similar challenges and there is also a lot of great potential, but sometimes it is hard to bridge design, policy and business. We have problems with metrics, measuring design such as how to measure the value of design. Moreover, the challenge is to keep our Lithuanian designers competitive in the international market according to the fact that Lithuania is not just a cheap country anymore and salaries are growing with production costs also increasing. We need to find ways to keep our country competitive in the global market because we cannot compete on the basis of price so one of the tools is to use design to create more added value products and services instead of just selling raw material or provide low-value production.
During the last decade, Lithuania has also been facing a big challenge of immigration. While the whole of Europe is looking for a solution to how to deal with immigration, we are facing a problem that many people are moving abroad. Due to this, it’s necessary to find out how to create a better environment not only for those who are coming to live in Lithuania but also for those who are thinking about leaving the country.
Do you feel it is important to sustain aspects of creativity in your country in regard to innovation, preservation of heritage values and ancient techniques?
It is very important to keep the tradition, of course. Many ‘traditional’ techniques could be perfectly used today and allow us to remember that the past can help to create more sustainable products. Lithuania is really good in wood crafts, so we have a really strong culture of high-quality furniture making. Lithuania have never been a rich nation, so we have always been using materials from our own region, so all of these traditional crafts were always really important. Protection of these skills is crucial, and we can see that local designers in the creative industry are trying to preserve some of those crafts, those trends are coming back into style.
Handmade things are also becoming more and more expensive because it takes more time and it requires high-quality materials so pieces can’t be quickly produced. Although we don’t have much preservation BC as other countries do, we have some crafts that are realty unique and it’s a part of our heritage. I think that projects such as WORTH are really great platforms where people can combine those ancient crafts with current technologies and create really unique products.
What are some current events or initiatives you have taken part in and wish to promote further, what was your involvement in these?
The Lithuanian eco-system is really full of events and initiatives. As many other countries, we have Design Week Lithuania which is the biggest design festival in all the Baltic countries (has been happening in six cities for the same time for 13 years). We also have the National Design Awards which is a really good tool for those who would like to be more visible, not only on a local level, but also on an international level as the jurors every year are all from abroad. This year the ceremony will take place during Innovation Week at the Museum of Applied Arts and Design. Lithuanian Design Forum is helping for local designers and companies to present their creations abroad – nine Lithuanian design companies will be presented at Maison & Object in Paris this September. October will be dedicated for joint Baltic countries exposition in Budapest Design Week, beginning of the next year will start with Lithuanian design presence in IMM Cologne (Germany) and Stockholm furniture fair (Sweden). Such projects helps us to promote Lithuania abroad as a modern country full of creative people.
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