Design — it’s not just about name brands and fancy chairs. Taiwan Designers’ Week, which starts Friday afternoon and runs through Sept. 23 at the Taipei International Flora Exposition EXPO Dome (台北花博爭艷館), aims to show visitors the full range of what this country’s creative professionals can deliver.
Since launching in one of Eslite Xinyi’s exhibition spaces in 2007, the annual event has grown rapidly. Next week’s edition is almost twice as large as last year’s: items created by 500 individual designers will be on display, up from about 300 designers last year. Taiwan Designers’ Week will also feature a film festival for the first time, co-produced by Urban Nomad. Over the exhibit’s 10 days, organizers expect to host over 100,000 visitors who can take part in workshops, test out prototypes and speak directly with designers.
The theme of this year’s event is “Flow” and the event focuses on the possibilities in Taiwan’s design industry as it continues to move forward, says Taiwan Designers’ Week organizer Timothy Liao (廖軍豪).
He adds that “Flow” can also be interpreted in different ways: as the relationship between a designer and his or her environment; the communication process between a design team and its clients; or the evolution of an industry.
Since launching in 2007, the scope and aim of Taiwan Designers’ Week has also changed. Originally meant to give designers a chance to meet, exchange ideas and show off independent projects, the event has expanded its mission. It now gives designers a chance to network with potential clients and distributors and reach out to members of the public.
“It’s clear now that people want to talk about how design is relevant to daily life, while also looking at market opportunities,” says Liao.
What: Taiwan Designers’ Week (台灣設計師週)
When: Friday through Sept. 23. Monday to Thursday 10am to 8:30pm, Friday to Sunday 10am to 9pm
Where: Taipei International Flora Exposition EXPO Dome (台北花博爭艷館), 1 Yumen St, Taipei City (台北市玉門街1號), tel: (02)2581-2687
On the Net: www.designersweek.tw, urbannomaden.blogspot.tw
Admission: Tickets are NT$230
The Taipei government recently officially launched its campaign to have the city recognized as the 2016 World Design Capital by International Council of Societies of Industrial Design. Last fall, it hosted the Taiwan World Design Expo (台北世界設計大展), which ran at the same time as the International Design Alliance (IDA) Congress.
While the city government’s efforts have helped to increase the profile of Taipei’s design industry, Liao says it is still a challenge to convince people that design is not just about luxury brands and trends.
“People keep hearing the word ‘design’ and they realize that there are so many different kinds of design: interior, fashion, animation, architecture, tech,” says Liao. “I think more and more people are beginning to recognize what design is, but they don’t necessarily understand the process behind it.”
This year, Taiwan Designers’ Week will host its first Design Cinema. Co-organized by Urban Nomad, the film festival will feature documentaries that give a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the design process through different industries and sectors, including shoe design, architecture and typography.
Films include Indie Game: The Movie, Beautiful Loser, How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster, Helvetica, Design and Thinking, God Save My Shoes and The Pruitt-Igoe Myth: an Urban History. (For more information, visit urbannomaden.blogspot.tw).
“I think it’s difficult for people to understand the value and relevancy of design,” says Liao. “Take a cup, for instance. It might be very simple, but behind that one cup is a lot of work, problem solving, the designer’s own philosophy, perhaps the use of new materials. There are so many stories behind that cup.”