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The Age of Design for Public Good—A Look at WDC Taipei MRT Design Project
“This is not government’s design.” “This is not Taipei MRT.” “I can now see the impact of WDC.” These are some thoughts passengers had when they got on the Taipei MRT WDC train. Through cooperation with 15 designers, WDC Taipei and Taipei MRT joined forces and turned Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall Station and a car into design demonstrations. Also, by redesigning bulletin boards and signage, WDC Taipei shows the citizens how design can change the look of life in Taipei.
For Taipei, design is an important step towards the world, and it is also the last piece of the puzzle that makes Taipei MRT a world-class transit system. Taipei MRT has already achieved world-class operation and service, so what seems to be lacking? It is actually design. Design is a product of time, and we must admit that we have been focusing on hardware for too long, and neglected sophisticated interface design. Other than the market, train station is an indicative place to observe when examining the status of design in a city, and this MRT design project is just a beginning to a wave of new changes brought by design.
The underlying principle of these changes sensed by the citizens is “design for public good,” or “public-policy by design,” which is a concept where design is introduced to public construction, service, or policy. This is also an idea promoted by WDC over recent years, and it is finally manifested comprehensively through this MRT design project. We hope that this change marks a new milestone for design in Taiwan and gives rise to a new age of design, an age where designers can design our public facilities and services.
Facing the stagnant OEM and ODM economy, where lies the future of Taiwan’s design? We hope that “design for public good” can pioneer another important market and stage for the next generation. “Design for public good” is also the principle of “social design,” for behind the idea of “design for public good” is not just aesthetics, but also how design can change people’s life, and how design can provide new opportunities of the new age.
To continue realizing the idea of design for public good, WDC Taipei will also introduce design to baggage carousels at Taoyuan International Airport in August, hoping that design will strike as the first impression of Taiwan when people first step onto the island; WDC also hopes to turn the image of Taoyuan International Airport around through design, telling visitors from around the world how many passionate designers on this soil are changing the look of the island.
In addition to the MRT and airport, there are more design projects that enter the everyday life of citizens, such as the renovation of parks. Through international open call for design proposals, WDC collaborates with Parks and Street Lights Office, Public Works Department, Taipei City Government, to create small theme parks, which will debut in August as well. Children’s Ambition Park made from recycled water tanks resemble space shuttles and showcase rich imaginations; Citizen’s Swing Park built from recycled street light posts redefines what swing is. We cannot change all the parks in this city that look the same at once, but we hope that every next park will be full of creativity!
In the future, design may be introduced to advertisement, city government apparel, city hall, and bus. In addition to introducing design to these public facilities and services, the concept of publicity is also the theme of this year’s international designers residence project. In the future, more public issues will be the topics of design exchange and citizen participation.
“Why are the designers so young?” These designers in their twenties and thirties have attracted public attention through this MRT project. We believe that because they are young, they have the energy and passion to make changes, and the boldness to bring design into everyday life; because of their restlessness, they are able to create a new age. This city should give back to the younger generation by becoming a stage for designers, so that they can prove their talents, and conquer the global stage.
WDC CEO Wu Han-Zhong
WDC Taipei 2016