A Collectable International Bid Book Sketches Taipei’s Urban Evolution


To prepare the international Bid Book that Taipei City presented for its application to host World Design Capital 2016, in the space of 10 months, including information gathering and discussions with 23 designers from many different fields, the project team compiled a work comprising 140,000 characters of Chinese text and 60,000 words of English, to comprehensively showcase Taipei’s rich local power in the fields of industrial, graphic, architectural and interior design and in terms of the city’s distinctive culture.

The Bid Book is presented as a set of five scrolls, and features a highly distinctive binding method—“dragon-scale binding”—which is based on ancient Chinese bookbinding methods, while also incorporating modern design elements. The binding is so named because the book’s pages are glued in succession by one edge to the backing scroll, so that they overlap, giving the appearance of the scales of a dragon, which in Chinese culture is an auspicious magical beast. When a scroll is laid out flat it presents a complete “cover page” image, and the turn of each page also offers a new surprise.

The Bid Book comprises five such “dragon-scale” scrolls. The cover page of Scroll I shows a work of calligraphy, 16 characters long, by the famous Taiwanese calligrapher Tong Yang-Tze. The words of the inscription, “ru qie ru cuo, ru zhuo ru mo, ru jin ru xi, ru gui ru bi” (“like cutting and filing, like chiseling and polishing”; “like gold or tin, like a jade scepter or a jade ring”), are quoted from a poem in the ancient Chinese anthology The Book of Songs. They allude to the adaptive spirit of continually pondering and reflecting, and constantly striving to improve.

The cover image of Scroll II presents a dialogue between five masterpieces selected from the collection of the National Palace Museum, and five works of modern Taiwanese industrial design. Their juxtaposition represents how industrial design in the Chinese-speaking world continues the Chinese cultural heritage. The cover image of Scroll III shows a work by Jimmy, one of Taipei’s most influential illustrators. It is a mural in a style full of fantasy, with which Jimmy decorated an outside wall of the Pavilion of Dreams at the 2010 Taipei International Flora Exposition. In the mural, enormous colorful blossoms adorn the city, making it more vivid and lively. The cover image of Scroll IV presents in intersecting images and lines an interior design created for Eslite Bookstores by the well-known interior designer Ray Chen. The special design style symbolizes the cross-disciplinary character and the diversity of Taipei design.

The cityscape with mountains and rivers that is the cover image of Scroll V shows Taipei at its most natural and primitive—an exquisitely valuable heritage. It symbolizes how in Taipei City at each place where design is practiced, and through our design power and orientation, we hope that through design we can make our city a better place, a constantly improving Adaptive City.

To print the Bid Book scrolls we specially selected a textured paper developed in Japan and manufactured in Taiwan, which thanks to its special fibers has the feel of traditional Xuan calligraphy paper. The presentation case that contains the scrolls was created by local craftsmen from Moso bamboo, which grows abundantly in Taiwan, and the distinctive black serpentine jade of Hualien County in Eastern Taiwan. From inside to outside, from content to form, the five-scroll dragon-scale Bid Book and case gives the impression of a collectible artwork. Taipei’s meticulous care in preparing the Bid Book was also recognized with a 2014 iF award in Communication!