New Beginning for Taiwan’s Design Movement: It is not the End of WDC, It is the Beginning of Changes for Taiwanese Design


What is the next step for WDC Taipei 2016 after the WDC International Design House Exhibition? The truth is, it is not the end of WDC, but the beginning of changes for everything—the new generation of design energy triggered by WDC and countless pairs of gleaming eyes are now igniting series of changes in design from Taipei, the capital city, to local municipalities all around the nation.

It is the Beginning of Changes for Taiwanese Design

Looking back, October of 2016 was the most important month for Taiwanese design in the past decade. First, President Tsai Ing-wen proposed the idea of “design is national strength,” elevating the status of design related issues to the state level, while at the same time pointing out the fact that our ID card needed to be redesigned. Less than a month later, WDC became a hot topic among legislators, as they demanded that citizens be involved in the design process of the new ID card corresponding to the civic design principle of the WDC future household registration office, realizing WDC design idea into ID cards in the wallets of all 23 million citizens of Taiwan, which will further introduce design to the lives of each and every Taiwanese citizen, and ultimately achieves the goal of Taiwan ReDesign.

Mayor Ko Wen-je of Taipei City also proposed the idea of “to change Taiwan, start with the capital city; to change Taipei, start with the culture; to change culture, start with design,” which corresponded to the spirit of people-oriented design and the international trend of changing organizational culture with design. Design is no longer the responsibility of a single public agency, but the solution to be utilized by every bureau and agency when faced with problems. Through WDC, Taipei has established its leading status as the Asian Capital of Social Design, but more importantly, WDC will not end, as Taipei will continue to introduce perceivable changes to urban design in the next three to five years.

New Beginning for Taiwan’s Design Movement

At the same time, many municipal governments have started considering and assessing the possibility of establishing design center to more effectively integrate hardware and software, or combine urban design and reform of designing innovative organizational culture. Taitung may become the first municipal government to start setting up a design center, which will be the origin of design revolution at the municipal level. Officials of various government agencies in Hsinchu, Keelung, and Taoyuan, who have garnered much recognition with their administrative efforts lately, are all discussing the possibility of system design reform.

Looking back at the WDC Network of Cities Meeting and WDC International Design House Exhibition in October, these were the greatest design events in the past ten years, which were participated by 24 countries and witnessed by over 870,000 participants, and played an important role of catalyst. The WDC International Design Policy Conference also covered a wide range of topics and facilitated in-depth discussions, and is recognized as the most successful edition over the years. The conference featured visions shared by Ms. Ann Stenros, the first Chief Design Officer in the world from Helsinki, review on the history of Taiwan’s social design by Professor Chen Dung-sheng, and feedbacks by Professor Kung Shu-chang regarding his experience participating in WDC events; these were the best exchange and dialogues between Taiwan and global experience.

design policy conference

The WDC International Design House Exhibition concretely showcased the results of WDC through the concept of “Living Exhibition.” Although only 1/4 of the achievements over the years were exhibited, there remained much more changes for our citizens to discover in the city; curator Chou Yu-ju succeeded to create the first bang of “to improve the city with design” in the history of Taiwanese design as the exhibition was very popular among the citizens.

“Visual Taipei” presented curator Page Tsou’s idea of bringing international designers to Taiwan, as he perfectly integrated visual art, sense of smell, sense of taste, and spatial experience, garnering much praises from design professionals. “From Ink to Apparel” showcased a crossover between calligraphy art and fashion design jointly presented by renowned masters Tong Yang-tze and Liu Kuo-chang, as well as six young fashion designers. “Breakthrough,” curated by young designer Lee Wei-lang, presented Taiwanese design industry’s powerful and persistent efforts to breakthrough.

The major international events in October also attracted many international media and professionals to visit Taipei; in addition to participating in the aforementioned activities, they also visited various corners in the city to witness the new wave of design energy in Taiwan. From the “Power to the People” exhibition during the day, the world-class nightlife experience at OMNI Club, the renovation of the North Gate Square under the ongoing Western Gateway project, to the rather edgy design of Taipei Performing Arts Center inspired by tofu and century egg, everything has surprised the international guests visiting Taipei as they got to experience the adaptive city in motion.

Taipei Issuuuue

Summing up WDC’s effort over the past few years, we have achieved the following major tasks: First, we have given rise to a design generation, and new design topics. WDC has proposed the idea of civic design where we design for people’s everyday life, as well as the concept of social design where design is used to solve social issues. We have also lay the blueprint for the urban design visions over the next five to ten years. WDC has boldly given many young design teams opportunities to curate and participate in the exhibitions, so at the conference and exhibition, we could see countless pairs of gleaming eyes of the younger generation, manifesting the design energy and executive capability of the new generation designers, as they will create more possibilities in the future.

Second, WDC has elevated the strategic status of design, as well as the priority and importance of design in city governance. From the discussion of CDO during the International Design Policy Conference, the design achievements through joint efforts of bureaus and agencies, to the “Taiwan ReDesign” forum on the last day of the exhibition, the central government and municipal governments of Taipei, Taitung, Keelung, and Yilan, shared on respective experiences, and recognized that the priority of design shall be elevated in city governance, making design a must-have key competence for strategic thinking and urban development.

Third, WDC is not an event, but the beginning of a movement. During the execution of WDC, we involved passionate younger generations and private organizations wherever and whenever possible, generating long-lasting influences for the topics, so that WDC is not just an event promoted by the city government; instead, it will influence central and municipal governments.

design house exhibition

Facing the future, we will experiment with design topics that can further change the lives of our citizens, and these may include markets, parks, mass transit, and urban aesthetics. These topics are opportunities where design professionals can get involved to improve the lives of our citizens! We have failed to accomplish many things over decades in the past, but in the future, as designers of different generations, the government, and the private sector join forces and collaborate, we believe we will have more experience and courage to face the grave challenge together.

Looking back at the bidding video submitted by Taipei for the WDC application, many pioneers in the fields of design and culture and art endorsed Taipei and fought for this opportunity for us to improve our city with design. On the foundation with abundant design energy established by those before us, we have lived up to the expectations of the society; with participation by 870,000 citizens, and collaboration by over 100 designers, Taipei has made history by introducing a series of changes through the WDC initiative. The WDC Convocation Ceremony is not the end, but the beginning to improve our city with design. Here, we would like to express our gratitude to all the participating teams and partners over the years; this is the new beginning for Taiwan’s design movement, and we look forward to your continued encouragement and support in the future!

design house exhibition