Dutch designers seek dreams in China

CNC report from Guangdong
Added On July 21, 2013

During the past decades, lower labor cost and mature manufacturing facilities have made China the manufacturing hub of the world.

Meanwhile, international designers are flocking to the country and seeking for opportunities.

Among them, some designers from the Kingdom of the Netherlands are especially noteworthy.

CNC takes you to see how they have been chasing their dreams in China.

These Dutch industrial designers are famous for their professional expertise and entrepreneurial ambitions.

Koch is the co-founder and director of a fast growing Dutch Design Company in China.

She moved to China's manufacturing center Guangdong province where is close to Hong Kong in 2007.

She says it’s a good place to start her business.

SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH): BOUKJE KOCH, Director of Ask4Me Group
"I decided to move here is because the possibilities of production here is broader. They have injection modeling, they have electronics, and they have everything here. This is basically why. Say china is the workshop of the world; it's very much focused here in Guangdong province."

Koch's electronic product design company names Ask4Me Group.

It designs products and organizes the manufacturing process in Guangzhou for clients from both Europe and China. 

At the beginning, it was just a tiny workshop.

But as China's design market flourishes, the firm has quickly expanded into a reputable studio with a dozen professional designers.

And they found China is very attractive.

SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH): AJ SCHEP, Dutch designer
"If in China, you have an idea, you know you can follow your idea all the way to the final product even into the sales channel. So like the dynamics here, I like to see everything is possible, if you prepare properly. So the unlimited possibilities, I think that's the thing I thinks is attractive in China."

At the same time, some designers say China's business environment is good. 

SOUNDBITE(ENGLISH): MAARTEN BOER, Dutch Designer
"I think the business environment is very nice. We are so close to all the factories, we have huge advantages compared to all the design agencies in Europe or US or everywhere. We are so close to what we design from the sketch on paper until production."

Ask4Me has an unparalleled advantage in China.

Being close to factories, the designers are able to talk face-to-face with Chinese manufacturers during the whole product development.

And they can ensure that a product is manufactured precisely to the clients' requirements.

During the past 6 years, Ask4Me designers have been able to design a wide array of products, including toys, lighting devices, small electronics and home appliances.

Some of those even won national design awards in China, like this kid's toy designed by Boukje Koch.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): BOUKJE KOCH, Director of Ask4Me Group
"Basically these lights are already existing. It's an existing type of night lights for children. It is always with stars. Why don't we make some fantasy figures? So this is sea animal version. So you can see the sharks and dolphins and jellyfishes and sea stars. And our shape, I guess you could call this a Dutch design, it's minimalist. Actually it looks good for modern parents. They would buy it. And they would give it as a gift to other young parents. Children would see it in the dark on the ceiling."

The firm has seen its revenue grow steadily. The turnover has been about 20 percent more each year.

Now, it focuses more on designing for brands. To make the company more distinctive, they change its name from Ask4Me to Orange Creatives.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): BOUKJE KOCH, Director of Ask4Me Group
"Now we want to focus more on design and designing for brands, designing for brands that want to grow. We also need a name that expresses that more. We are Dutch, we are designers, we are creative, and that's why we choose that name Orange Creatives, because our national color is orange."

The firm also plans to open an office in Shanghai and a studio in Holland.

Koch believes she is already in the middle of fulfilling her Chinese dream after years of efforts. 

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): BOUKJE KOCH, Director of Ask4Me Group
"What I'm doing now is what I really really want to do. The next step is I want my company to grow bigger, and become more famous, more widely known, especially in this province of Guangdong."

The entrepreneur hopes there will be more international designers who would pursue dreams in China.

And for many foreign designers, their Chinese dreams just begin unfolding.