Over the course of the year, Taipei has relished the title of World Design Capital Taipei 2016 (WDCT 2016), hosting a selection of events and exhibitions that seek to show how design can be integrated into society to help it function optimally. Themed 'Adaptive City — Design in Motion', it is hoped that by applying innovative design thinking, the city may overcome a range of constraints that limited resources place on its development.
As the event wraps up this month, is it clear that it has been a success. Not only increasing public awareness on the abilities of the industry, but also showing governing policy-makers how design can be incorporated into the decision-making process.
"We wanted to show people that design is not only to do with products and brands. We also tried to lift the misconception that design is only about creation, culture and heritage — it's not," says Dr Pei-Ni Beatrice Hsieh, commissioner of the Taipei City Department of Cultural Affairs. "We must make sure that the next generation believes in design… that design is not only in the things they have, but part of their thinking."
In celebration of this success, we take a look at some of the final events that Taipei hosted as World Design Capital 2016.
The Small Shop Signboard Manufacturer Project
Organised in tandem by local Taipei design firms Archicake and Agua Design, The Small Shop Signboard Manufacturer Project sought to bring together young designers and local shop owners throughout the city to create a new typology for street signs. A number of local businesses were approached, and owners who were willing worked together with the designers to generate new signboards. Coffee shops, grocery stores and everyday street vendors took part in the project, with the hope that a more harmonious and appealing street environment could be created.
At Dazhi Market, with help from the chairman of the Dazhi Market Stall-owner Committee Huang Xiangjin, nine business owners agreed to consult with the designers and have their storefronts redesigned. "Since the signboards have been updated, many of the shopkeepers have felt empowered by the new designs and are taking even more pride in how their stall looks every day," notes Tammy Chen from Archicake.
International Design Forum
Co-ordinated by Ben Chiu, executive director and international curator of the annual Taiwan Designer's Week, the International Design Week Forum brought together organisers of design weeks from cities and countries across the globe, including Beijing, Chiang Mai, Dubai, Eindhoven, London, Tokyo Paris, Sydney, Mexico, Singapore, and Taiwan.
The two-day event saw a closed-door internal discussion taking place on the first day, as organisers shared ideas on how to overcome common challenges and develop strategies to share resources in the future. The second day of the forum was open to the public, and consisted of talks around design in general and how design events work throughout the world.
International Design Policy Conference
Held over the course of two days in October, the International Design Policy Conference brought together leaders in design thinking from around the world in Taipei to share their ideas on the future role of designers, public servants, and private firms in facing the challenges of urbanisation and resource scarcity.
The conference was attended by an audience of 3,000, and featured a range of topics and forum discussions such as 'Design for Public Policy', 'Design for Future Living' and 'Design for Sustainable Cities'. Speakers at the
event included mayors from cities that had previously held the World Design Capital title, who spoke on how the event had continued to impact their respective societies.
In reference to Taiwan's status as an international technology powerhouse, a number of groundbreaking trends were identified and discussed in a hope that by combining them with good design a better future could be sought.
International Design House Exhibition
One of the four signature events that took place during October, the International Design House Exhibition presented an exploration into how global cities can use design to impact societal challenges and urbanisation. Exploring the WDCT 2016 theme 'Sisheng: Quality of Life and Health, Ecological Sustainability, Smart Living, and Urban Regeneration', the five exhibits showcased the best local and international design exhibitions.
In Taipei Issuuuue, curated by Agua Chou of Taipei-based studio Agua Design, a number of installations showed the results of innovative WDCT 2016 projects, including the International Open Call and Designer in Residence programmes, and explored the impact of public planning and design policies in Taipei.
The International City Pavilion, Unfold Cities, saw participants from 13 international cities, countries, and organisations present an exploration into how design is used to successfully in society. Austria, Beijing, Cape Town, Germany, Helsinki, India, the Netherlands, Osaka, Paris, the Philippines, Switzerland and Yokohama were all represented, with a range of product and conceptual designs being displayed.
Visual Taipei, curated by Page Tsou, featured more than 300 works by renowned illustrators, graphic designers and visual artists from around the world. Selected illustrators were tasked to show their own personal representations of Taipei, while other artists used the classic Eames chair by Hermann Miller as a canvas.
Curator Li Wei-Lang, the creative director for Afterain Design, presented an exhibition called Breakthrough, showcasing innovative Taiwanese design in the fields of science and technology, art and craft, and sustainability, while renowned Taiwanese contemporary calligraphic artist Tong Yang-Tze presented From Ink to Apparel: A Crossover between Calligraphy Art and Fashion Design. This collaborative exhibition featured the works of six up-and-coming Taiwanese fashion designers, which interpret Tong's art.
This is an excerpt from the "Believing in Design” article from the December 2016 issue of Perspective magazine.
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