The 2017 Best Design winners were announced at the Grand Ceremony on December 7th, in the spectacular Eslite Spectrum Performance Hall, inside Taipei’s historic Songshan Cultural & Creative Park. There are 23 Best Design winners in the Golden Pin Design Award — 16 from Taiwan, 3 from Japan, 2 from China, 1 from Hong Kong, and 1 from Germany. The Product design category yielded 10 Best Design winners, 1 from Packaging design, 7 from Visual Communication design, and 5 from Spatial design.

There are just 3 Best Design winners in this year’s Golden Pin Concept Design Award, who don’t just win a trophy, but also NT$300,000 (about US$9,500) to help bring their concepts into reality.

The Golden Pin Design Award and Golden Pin Concept Design Award seeks out contemporary design trends, and rewards those who exemplify the movements in huaren design. From this year’s statistics on Best Design winners, we see young Taiwanese designers leading the way in huaren design, many of whom center their design concepts on social and environmental issues. In addition, we can identify a number of rising trends in huaren design, such as social impact, and the use of sustainable materials.

Statistics on 2017 entries

Total entries to the Golden Pin Design Award and Golden Pin Concept Design Award rose to 7,314 this year, an increase of 929 from last year. 2014 is the year that Golden Pin Design Award opened up to international participation. Since then the entry number has risen from 1901 (2014) to 2919 (2017), yielding a 53% growth rate. 2015 is the year that Golden Pin Concept Design Award changed its name from Taiwan International Design Competition. The entry number has risen from 2384 (2014) to 4395 (2017), yielding an 84% growth rate.

Geographical areas

In terms of participating countries and regions, both awards have expanded greatly. Participating countries and regions in the Golden Pin Design Award increased from 8 (2014) to 14 (2017), while in Golden Pin Concept Design Award the figures have increased from 17 (2014) to 25 (2017). The two awards have received entries from a total of 36 countries and regions since 2014, showing the scope of the awards’ international influence.

The countries and regions with the most entrants are invariably China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. In the Golden Pin Design Award, Chinese entrants made up 50%, Taiwanese 43%, and Hong Kong 3%. In the Golden Pin Concept Design Award, Chinese entrants made up 58%, Taiwanese 37%, and Hong Kong 2%. This references the awards’ goal to seek out the best of huaren design, and heightened awareness of the awards.

“The Golden Pin Design Award stands out in the geographical area where it attracts most of its submissions from,” says Kristof Crolla, Final Selection Jury member. “It is very Taiwan-, China-, Hong Kong- heavy. There are a few big, international brands also present here, but those tend not to stand out too much. It feels like the award is actively trying to seek out a local identity, and that is very interesting.”


Entries to all categories in the Golden Pin Design Award have multiplied year-on-year, especially in the Product design, Visual Communication design, and Spatial design categories. In the past four years, the number of Spatial design entries has risen from 126 (2014) to 506 (2017), and the number of Visual Communication design entries has risen from 378 (2014) to 679 (2017). This shows a burgeoning number of graphic designers and architects, looking to make their name in the world of huaren design. The Product design category consistently yields the majority of entries, steadily increasing year-by-year, from 1183 (2014) to 1445 (2017).

Trends in 2017 Best Design winners

Social impact

Nowadays, many designers focus on tackling social issues. The 2017 Best Design winners of Golden Pin Design Award and Golden Pin Concept Design Award are no exception, particularly among young, rising designers. To these three Best Design winners, the questions raised by social issues are as important as aesthetics in design.

Golden Pin Concept Design Award 2017 Best Design winner, ‘Bamboodia’ takes advantage of locally sourced bamboo to create a low cost prosthetic, specially designed for teenagers with below-knee amputations.

‘AQUAIR’ takes the popular concept of fog harvesting a step further, making it active and portable. At the competition’s second round judging in Taipei, Taiwan, Jury member Andrew Wong of Onion Design was compelled by the design students’ mission to tackle the global issue of water shortage. “If you’re solving a problem through design, you need to have a smart idea to solve the problem in an economical way,” says Wong, Final Selection Jury member. “AQUAIR is a very good example of this.”

The team behind ‘The Mystery of Victim Blaming’ was inspired to create social change after two shocking public incidents that happened on June 27, 2015. The designers hope that their video will help people understand and accept the issue in a positive way, to heal the wound in Taiwanese society.

Sustainable materials

As our planet’s resources are fast depleting, and its ecosystem is damaged by this crisis in sustainability, designers are challenged to reconsider materials in design. These two Best Design winners exemplify the innovative use of sustainable materials in Product design and Packaging design.

‘Fibrewood Objects’ is made from a hybrid material, combining flax and Taichung’s centuries-old lacquerware craft. Studio Lim sources scrap wood such as maple, walnut, oak, and pine from local carpenters in support of their fine craftsmanship. “Fibrewood itself is totally recyclable and biodegradable,” says Yun Ting Lin, Co-founder of Studio Lim.

‘Chosen Tea 1869: Taiwanese Tea Series’ is another example. Dot Design Founder, Lance Han favors pressed cardboard for its gentle texture, as opposed to sharp, layered cardboard. The added benefit of using pressed cardboard is that it is recyclable; the material is reprocessed into pulp and pressed into new sheets; which makes it a highly sustainable alternative to waxed or laminated cardboard. “The Chosen Tea 1869 packaging design evokes an everyday sense,” says Wei-Hsiung Chan, Final Selection Jury member. “It inspires regular people to appreciate the subtle design and aesthetics in their everyday life. The mountain silhouette is created using pressed paper, not folded paper, which eliminates painful sharp corners.”

Local is global

As globalization takes shape, local culture and identity is being swallowed up by the international order. These three Best Design winners prove that design can represent local culture and identity within the paradigm of globalization, and furthermore enhance the value of design.

‘Xiafu Activity Center’ reimagines twenty-six individual colors found in the ornate Taoist temple roof of Hongfugong Temple where it is situated. This is iconoclastic design for Taiwanese millennials; Taiwan has retained its traditional religious practices alongside new trends like bubble tea and chicken nuggets, however, Taoism and Buddhism are gradually losing their edge. Now, the colorful Xiafu Activity Center attracts a different variety of worshipper, making the pilgrimage to snap selfies for Instagram. “Xiafu Activity Center creates a joyful and energetic place for people to interact by using playful shapes and vibrant color,” says Kristof Crolla, Final Selection Jury member. “While referencing traditionally recognizable curves and geometry, the project’s dynamism brings a lightness, and its coloration brings a fresh touch.”

‘Yizhen Traditional Folk Belief Museum, Opening Memorial Poster’ is designed by Timonium Lake Design, Taiwan. Like in ‘Xiafu Activity Center’, these posters harness the power of color and communicate the value of local culture to a modern audience. The posters feature the amazing, kaleidoscopic painted faces of art troupes in Tainan, southern Taiwan, associated with ritual festivals for gods of the local Yizhen culture. “The designer presents a local festival using modern, bold colors and techniques,” says Kazuo Tanaka, Final Selection Jury Chair. “It is a highly engaging design that you cannot look away from.”

The ‘Etchu Toyama craftsmanship sharing plate’ collection comprises of twenty-three small plates, handcrafted by local artisans of Toyama prefecture in Japan. The tradition of sharing plates originates from a marital custom in the Toyama region, whereby guests of the wedding party would each offer a small plate of food to the newly wed couple. The designers and artisans of Toyama Design Center reinterpret this local tradition through their skilled, modern craftsmanship. “Each plate in the Etchu Toyama collection has a different character, which is representative of its strength in craftsmanship,” says Kazuo Tanaka, Final Selection Jury Chair. “Overall, a rich set of personalities is expressed under a unified style, resulting in a finely considered design work.”

Micro living

Urban space is a valuable commodity within Asian metropolises, such as Taipei, and its value is appreciating astronomically. Spatial designers, architects, and interior designers, treat space as a commodity. This Best Design winner from Taiwan is part of a nationwide public space project, which aims to eliminate wasted urban land.

‘ParkUp’ is a project to renovate a small plot of public space, sandwiched between two buildings, located in Guting, Taipei. The designers’ basic idea was to split the space into three independent, but integrated areas; a playground for kids; an event space for workshops, lectures and outdoor cinemas; a main area in the center with nine white, steel structural frames. “ParkUp is an example of guerilla-style urban design, incorporated into public space, with strategic clarity, a sense of humility, and a lightweight organization,” says Wei-Hsiung Chan, Final Selection Jury member. “This example of intervention in urban space doesn’t carry the weight of large-scale change, and yet guided by excellent designers, there is an enormous change to the atmosphere inside the space.”

Exhibition curating

Two Best Design winners of this year’s Golden Pin Design Award are exhibition curations; ‘2017 Creative Expo Taiwan | Theme Pavilion | CULTURAL EXPLOSION’ by InFormat Design Curating in the Spatial design category, and ‘Motion Type Project’ in the Visual Communication design category. They are part of a rising trend in huaren design; in total this year, twenty-one exhibition curations were entered. Until recently, very few universities in Asia offered Curatorial Studies as a major, so the fact that two examples of exhibition curation won awards this year signals a growing respect for the specialism. “There are many opportunities for curating and publishing in Taiwan,” says Wei-Hsiung Chan. “The benefit of these opportunities is, designers are not restricted by a purely commercial point of view.”


The statistics show that Golden Pin Design Award and Golden Pin Concept Design Award are growing internationally, year-on-year. In 2017, the awards yielded record numbers of entries and international participation. There is also growth in terms of the variety of design, particularly in the Visual Communication design category. In the future, the awards continue to seek out contemporary trends in huaren design, bringing together cutting-edge designers from all over the world in Taiwan. The awards will adapt to the revolutionizing huaren design trends that are present in this year’s entrants and Best Design winners.

Facts & figures

Total submissions: 7,314 (+929)

Golden Pin Design Award: 2,919 (-86)
Design Mark: 455
Best Design: 23
Participating countries/regions: 14
– Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, UK, Germany, Switzerland, USA, Netherlands.
Participating companies: 1177 (+198)

Golden Pin Concept Design Award: 4,395 (+1015)
Design Mark: 31
Best Design: 3
Participating countries/regions: 25
– Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Australia, England, Italy, Turkey, Lithuania, Norway, Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, Iran, the Netherlands, Poland, USA, Canada, Mexico, and Chile.