Applied Design

Applied design encompasses fashion, architecture, and graphic design.  As one of six major creative industries, individuals in the applied arts sector contribute functional and wearable products such as industrial, interior, and clothing designs.  Combined with interactive media, film, visual arts, literary arts & publishing, and performing arts & music, Hawaiʻi’s creative industries represent $3.3 billion of the State’s GDP* as of 2015.  Moreover, the creative sector’s collective impact includes 49,597 local jobs, which is a positive growth rate of nearly 8.9% since 2005. 

*Data taken from Hawaiʻi’s Creative Economy Report – 2016


Below is a brief description of the subcategories that fall within Applied Design.  For further information, a comprehensive list of organizations, workshops, and businesses can be found on the Creative Industries Division’s Resources page.

Graphic Design – Isle designers are known to incorporate their cultural heritage and influences in visually innovative ways.  Their designs can be seen on logos and brochures as well as packaging, signage, and multi-media.  Hawaiʻi’s unique geographic position between East and West has provided designers international exposure, which is evident in projects such as the commemorative 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics stamp. 

Fashion – Hawaiʻi’s fashion industry is fast becoming a destination for the global fashion community, where emerging designers and established brands can proudly represent Hawaiʻi on the international fashion stage.  Organizations such as the Hawaiʻi Fashion Incubator (HIFI), a membership-based organization, provides a central hub where members of the community can interact, collaborate, and collectively drive the local fashion industry forward.

Architecture – The state of Hawaiʻi offers a wide variety of architectural design services, which are exported worldwide, especially in the Asia Pacific region.  Over time, local architects have become globally recognized for their expertise in hospitality and resort design that takes into account the tropical climate.  For instance, they were among the first wave of designers to export their services to China in the early 1980s.  More recently, some of Hawaiʻi’s architects played a role in designing world-class hotels and resorts in preparation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. 


The Creative Industries Division (CID) is the State’s lead agency focused on strengthening, advocating, and accelerating the growth of Hawaiʻi’s creative clusters.  As the business advocate for Hawaiʻi’s culture and arts sector, CID supports initiatives, policy, and infrastructure to expand the capacity of Hawaiʻi’s creative entrepreneurs.

Since its inception in 2003, CID has identified its Strategic Priorities 2013-2015 to increase growth and competitiveness of Hawaiʻi’s creative economy.  Recent projects in Applied Design, funded and supported by CID include:

Hawaiʻi Fashion Month Panels and Workshops – A sponsor of Hawaiʻi Fashion Month (HFM), CID & DBEDT coordinated and sponsored a series of industry specific panels and workshops at OUTFIT – The Hawaiʻi Fashion Designers Market. Panels and workshops featured industry leaders in interactive media and TV/Film costume design including Benni Leigh, Giovanna “Gigi” Ottobre-Melton, & Wendy Nguyen.

For more information Contact Us.