by Jacques Lange, Icograda President 2005-2007

The following remarks were delivered by Jacques Lange, Icograda President 2005-2007, during the closing ceremonies of Design/Culture: Icograda World Design Congress 2007. The Congress took place in La Habana, Cuba from 20-26 October 2007. Delegates from more than 50 countries attended.

Above: Cuba's Vice Minister of Culture, Fernando Rojas, accepts six white roses from Jacques Lange, Icograda President 2005-2007, during the closing ceremonies of Design/Culture: Icograda World Design Congress 2007. Photo: Stuart Alden.

Estimados colegas, miembros, companeros
Buenos mas tardes, good afternoon,

We have come to the end of the Icograda World Design Congress in La Habana, and I believe that it is appropriate to close with the poem, 'Cultivo Una Rosa Blanca' por Jose Marti / 'I Cultivate a White Rose' by Jose Marti:

Cultivo una rosa blanca
En julio como en enero,
Para el amigo sincero
Que me da su mano franca.

Y para el cruel que me arranca
El corazon con que vivo,
Cardo ni ortiga cultivo,
Cultivo una rosa blanca.

This beautiful poem is a metaphor for what we experienced during the past five days. Designers from all over the world coming together in La Habana to share ideas, experiences, knowledge and friendship. But even more importantly, we celebrated cultural diversity and the passion that we all have for the profession of design.

I wish to invite the Cuban Vice Minister of Culture, Fernando Rojas, to accept a symbolic gesture of six white roses on behalf of the international design community - one each representing North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Oceania - as a symbol of what Icograda stands for. May the metaphorical rose bush that we planted during the past few days bloom into prosperity all over the world.

I also request that each and every delegate in this room go back home and plant a white rose bush as a symbol of our commitment to make the world a better and more tolerant place and let the roses that will bloom year after year remind us of our true purpose in this world.

As designers, we are called on to provide solutions to challenges of every kind in every sector of society to enhance the quality of life and the diversity of bottom-lines for all stakeholders. The world is becoming smaller by the day and I believe that it is our responsibility as designers to use our unique skills and talents of creativity and problem solving to make the world a better and culturally richer planet.

This opens up new possibilities for communicating and designing across cultures - cultures of all kinds - that were previously inaccessible or unavailable. It also carries with it many new responsibilities to consider the power of communication design to unite or divide.

Again I wish to quote the words of a visionary cultural personality, the musician and lyricist Si Kahn who wrote a song entitled 'What you do with what you've got':

It's not what you're born with
It's what you choose to bear
It's not how big your share is
It's how much you can share
It's not the fights you dreamed of
It's those you really fought
It's not what you're given
It's what you do with what you've got
Between those who run to glory and those who cannot run
Tell me which ones are the cripples and which ones touch the sun"

Ultimately, we need to 'touch the sun' and therefore we need to apply visionary design thinking for achieving our common goals.

As designers we need to demonstrate the value of design in a more profound and beneficial manner. We need to do valuable things that are also valuable to all people across the globe. This implies creating new depth, relevance and resonance around the design industries and its economic, social, cultural and environmental responsibilities.

We have embraced our responsibilities during these past five days, and debated the diverse aspects of 'culture' and 'design'. This will continue later on tonight when we will celebrate friendship and the brotherhood and sisterhood of the international design community with great Cuban music, drinks and cuisine.

Tomorrow and the day after we will continue with the task at hand when the members of Icograda will meet at the Icograda General Assembly 22 where the agenda will address some critical issues that relate to the governance of the design profession.

In conclusion, I wish to thank the individuals and organisations that made this important Congress a reality and our delegates who traveled from all over the world to participate in this event. May you take only fond memories back home and spread the ethos and philosophy of Icograda.

Thank you and travel home safely.