Zachary Haris Ong appointed ico-D President

KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 25): The International Council of Design (ico-D) marked an important milestone with the appointment of Zachary Haris Ong as its incoming President for the 2017– 2019 term. Zachary – who was formerly President of the Graphic Design Association of Malaysia (wREGA) – is the first Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) candidate to be elevated to the Council’s highest post in the body’s five decade history.

“I am grateful to members of ico-D for allowing me the opportunity to lead the organisation in the next term,” said Zachary, who is the Principal of his own design consultancy, Zachary Haris Ong & Associates (ZHOA). “Being from a developing country provides me with a unique outlook which I look forward to bring to the next Board – a favour of optimism and a commitment to strengthening developments,” he said, adding that the past two years on the Board under the leadership of outgoing President David Grossman permitted him to learn and familiarise himself with the organisation, which he would then be able to lead with confidence.

“This elevation is for me a great honour, both personally and as a Malaysian,” Zachary continued. “ASEAN has a population 622 million people, or roughly 8.8% of the world’s population. Its combined nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is estimated to be US$2.57 trillion (RM10.87 trillion), and the ASEAN+3 bloc (which includes China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea) makes up 24.8% of world trade, totalling US$9.44 trillion (RM39.93 trillion). To be chosen as a representative for such a prodigious regional body is a tremendous responsibility, and it is a task that I know can be tackled effectively, thanks to the passion and vigour of the Council’s Board and Members.” ico-D is a world organisation for design professionals that was founded in London in 1963.

Formerly known as the International Council of Communication Design (Icograda, itself formerly an initialism for the International Council of Graphic Design Associations), the body is a non-profit, non-partisan organisation and member-based network of independent organisations and stakeholders working within the multidisciplinary scope of the world’s design industry. Covering five international regions (Asia, ASEAN, Europe, Latin America, and North America), its members include professional design organisations, design-promotion bodies, design media, design education institutions and individuals with a vested interest in professional design.

Rising above the turbulence Zachary said that the world economic situation of the past few years have been challenging for the Council. “The historical transition that ico-D has successfully weathered through in the 2013-2015 period under the leadership of Former President Iva Babaja, the Board and Secretariat is a grand reminder the importance of successful continuation of long-term efforts set by previous Boards, and in pursuing forward our objectives with great care and a tenacious focus on delivering results,” he said, adding that the subsequent efforts spearheaded by Grossman in grounding and aligning ico-D ‘s efforts in embracing its new multidisciplinary stance during the 2015-2017 period was worthy of praise.

Amongst the efforts undertaken by ico-D during that period were: dealing with challenges arising from globalisation; actively expanding its activities in China with universities, in conferences and in discussions with government; re-initiated its Regional Meeting formats; working with many related international organisations to draft the first World Design Declaration, which also resulted in the establishment of working relationships with entities including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat); and the expansion in membership to the organisation, alongside several significant spinoff projects.

Future plans

Zachary revealed that his plans for the Council would be in keeping with the ongoing efforts resulting from the achievements of ico-D’s previous leaders. “For the upcoming term, I would like to propose several objectives to the General Assembly, as a direct continuation from the last two Boards since the transition.”

“Firstly, ico-D should amplify efforts that continuously generate value to our Members. Next would be the expansion of the Council’s resources, which can be achieved through Partnerships and Sponsorships. Thirdly, there should be an expansion of ico-D ‘s role as a voice for the international design community across disciplines.

Last but not least, the Council must strengthen Membership expansion in every part of the world.” Zachary said that pursuing these objectives would result in strong positives for the Council. “The primary result we shall be after are generating a healthy resource for current and future projects, and amplifying our communications to Members and the public on the important role of design in the 21st century. The communications thrust will result in adoption of our efforts and encourage more collaborations with ico-D,” he said, adding that this in turn would strengthen ico-D’s role as a design ambassador that speaks for and on behalf of designers worldwide.

ico-D is set to hold several important meetings in 2018, consisting of a Regional Meeting in Kuala Lumpur in February, as well as a Platform Meeting and its Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Beijing in October.