Chief Editorial Writer: Albert Tzeng (曾柏文)
Editorial Team: Taiwan Design Research Institute, TDRI
Art Design: BOHAN GRAPHIC
Taiwan entered an era of surging design power in recent years.
Government-convened mega events like the Universiade, International Flora Exposition, Taiwan Lantern Festival, Creative Expo Taiwan, and Taiwan Design Expo all successfully facilitated cross-domain collaborations of design talents. The urban space redesign in Hsinchu, Keelung and Chiayi cities showcased the promising power of design in shaping our public life. So did various ministry-level flagship projects such as the “Design Movement on Campus,” “TRA Aesthetic Renaissance” and the redesigned “Taipei-Hualien Shuttle Bus”. There emerged more and more business owners who care about aesthetics and understand the value of design for corporate and product branding, and many schools started to offer an array of courses related to design thinking.
The establishment of Taiwan Design Research Institute (TDRI) in 2020 marked an important milestone for this trend. Whether TDRI can lead the society to adopt design thinking, influence national policies related to design, and facilitate the broader crossover integration of design will decide how the history of design unfolds.
Moreover, the Golden Pin Design Award organized by TDRI, which just celebrated its 40th anniversary, became the most critical platform for leading Taiwan’s design vision and defining the core values of “Designed in Taiwan”(DIT).
Perspective: A Discourse about DIT
The publication of Perspective: Why DIT Matters provides a chance to review Taiwan’s design trends and highlights, as well as to forecast its advantages and prospects.
The first two introductory chapters discussed the conceptual history of “design” and the strategic position of Taiwan to provide an outlook of DIT’s vision. The first chapter reviewed how the idea of “design” has been repeatedly reappropriated throughout history—from early graphic and craft design, product design of the industrial era, architectural and space design, UX/UI design, to rapidly-developing fields of integrated design, social design, service design, policy design, etc. The criteria for good designs also expanded gradually from “aesthetics, functionality, and economy” to including various sustainable development goals. The chapter advocated that, as a leading benchmark of DIT, the Golden Pin Design Award should actively reflect the changing “ideascape” about design in its solicitation and selections.
The second chapter took the broader perspective of the global design ecosystem to explore Taiwan’s advantages and strategic position. The chapter characterized four niche advantages that grants Taiwan the potential to become a “pivotal center of design in East Asia”— its location at the junction of four major “cultural plate” (Chinese, Japanese, Southeast Asia, and the West) in East Asia, its ecological diversity and environmental sensitivity, its solid strength in technologies and flexible industrial supply chain, and its vibrant democracy embedded in one of the most liberal and open society in Asia.
The rest seven chapters sketched the current state and prospect of design development in Taiwan based on the interview with 27 professionals and industrial leaders, along with a survey of the Golden Pin Design Award record. The chapters were organized along the three conceptual axes Shan (善), Chuang (創), Hsiang (享).
Both opportunities and challenges for designers
This book presented, along the layers of Shan, Chuang, Hsiang, that: (1) Taiwan has bred design initiatives to address various social issues, to improve ecological sustainability, and to achieve a better urban-rural balance of development—in short, to better the world (for Shan). (2) The traditional craft legacies, the modern industrial technologies, and the dynamic collision and synergy of the diverse cultures hosted in Taiwan’s energetic society became a stimulating ground for contemporary designers to exert their creativity (Chuang). (3) The crossover integration and the “sharing” of resources and ideas facilitated by curated events and government policies enable Taiwan to converge a stronger current of design power, which has the potential for bridging with other cultures in the world. This creates the opportunities and duties for Design in Taiwan (DIT) to contribute to human civilization.