Today (September 10th), the Ministry of Economic Affairs held a press conference on the topic of “Design Transforming Industry. Design Transforming Taiwan.” In order to further promote Taiwan’s design industry, the Taiwan Design Center will officially become the Design Research Institute (DRI) before April next year. In this new role, TDC will actively promote design thinking and service design, while also helping enterprises integrate design into its operations. The newly established Design Research Institute will also promote the “Designed in Taiwan” movement, encouraging Taiwanese designers to show off their talent in the international arena.
In the past, the Taiwan government has helped develop the design sector, mostly focusing on improving international competitiveness of local industries, forging international relations, promoting design education, fostering a new generation of talent, and injecting energy into the design industry. Partly as a result of these efforts, Taiwanese designers are better positioned to compete in international design competitions and forums and are receiving the international recognition they deserve. In accordance with Taiwan’s commitment to boosting design domestically, Taiwan hosted the 2011 IDA Congress in Taipei, and Taipei was announced as the World Design Capital in 2016. Important results of these developments include:
- Improved competitive advantage. Partly due to receiving instruction courses in design, local companies in industries such as tools & machinery, hardware, and transportation equipment generated additional NTD 22.5 billion in revenue. At the same time, the annual revenue of the design industry grew by 86%, from NTD 36.3 billion in 2003 to NTD 67.8 billion in 2017.
- A talented new generation of designers. Every year, over 3,000 original works are entered in the Young Pin Design Award, a competition for young designers that boasts over 90,000 attendees annually. This year’s awards also created a platform between design and industry, whereby companies could recruit fresh talent, creatives could connect with potential partners, and budding entrepreneurs could seek out potential investors.
- An International Design Competition. In 2014, the Golden Pin Design Awards began actively recruiting international designers to compete. This year (2019), there were 3,091 works entered by international applications from a total of 23 countries (excluding Chinese designers, this number remains strong at 1,899) representing 61% of the total number of applicants. The Golden Pin Design Award is Asia’s fastest-growing international design awards and is helping elevate the international image of Taiwan Design.
▲ Dr. Chuan-Neng Lin, the administrative deputy minister, Ministry of Economic Affairs (middle) and Chi-Yi Chang, the chairman of Taiwan Design Center (right)
Gaining a competitive edge in the current marketplace is no longer about efficiency. Instead, the most innovative companies are the ones that get ahead. Compared to the early stages of industry — that focused on keeping costs low — companies today are focused on achieving customer satisfaction and retention. The design profession started with simple product design — now, however, it has evolved into a cross-disciplinary profession, spanning across enterprises, governments, and society.
In order to further expand design applications and comprehensively develop innovation in Taiwan, the Ministry of Economy Affairs is in the process of transforming the Taiwan Design Center into the Design Research Institute. Going forward, this institution will use soft power to help strengthen Taiwanese industry. At the same time, the newly-established institute will work with the government to draft national design policy and revitalize public service sectors through the power of design, thereby improving the efficiency and quality of their service.
▲ The design team from the National Taiwan University of Arts and their “Two-Use Plastic Bag”
▲ The design team from Shih Chien University and their reusable bubble tea cup, FLOAT
Taiwan is overflowing with innovation, especially among the new generation of designers, where breakthrough ideas most often take root. At this year’s (2019) Young Pin Award alone, several design ideas made a splash that rippled through the media. For example, Float, a reusable bubble tea cup designed by a student from Shih Chien University, made international news. The Two-Use Plastic Bag — designed by a student at the National Taiwan University of Arts — is a plastic bag that can be used first for groceries and then as a city-recognized garbage bag. After drawing the attention of the media, Spring Pool Glass and the New Taipei City Environmental Protection Department also took notice — these bags are already available for use at select places in New Taipei City.
Moving forward, the Design Research Institute will give a platform and opportunities to these budding new designers. Through the power of design, the Design Research Institute hopes to create a new path for national industry and innovation — changing Taiwan into a center of innovation.