▲ Group photo of participants of the hands-on workshop
The “Public Sign Design Seminar Series” jointly planned and executed by Taiwan Design Research Institute (TDRI) and Japan’s GK Sekkei began last December, launching a series of free online courses open to the public. The online seminars were well-received by all sectors, including designers, students, related industries, public agencies, and teachers, attracting as many as 4110 registrations. This shows that public issues have gradually emerged in our daily surroundings and garnered the attention of all sectors.
Since its upgrade in 2020, TDRI has launched a number of public service projects, from which Taiwan’s dire need of public sign design has become evident. Thus, TDRI specially invited GK Sekkei for a special collaboration, borrowing the experience of the international professional sign design enterprise to gradually establish design concept of public signage and thus drive the development of Taiwan’s public services.
▲ President Chang Chi-Yi of TDRI sharing experience of promoting the development of public services at the workshop
▲ GK Sekkei Inc. Vice President Kanji Kato (Top Right) and Senior Director of Urban Planning and Development Sumito Kohno (Bottom Right) hosting the online seminar.
The seminar series featured GK Sekkei Vice President Kanji Kato, Senior Director of Urban Planning and Development Sumito Kohno, and designer Hiromi Kamada as lecturers. From case studies in the introduction class (Sessions 1&2) to professional knowledge on signs and procedures of development in the advanced class (Sessions 3&4), the target audience was narrowed down from the general public interested in signs to professional designers; in Sessions 5&6 in the end, the seminar invited design teams that were engaged in projects of public service development in collaboration with TDRI to participate in a two-day intensive workshop with a focus on practical operations.
Six design teams, which included IF Office, Bohan graphic, YEN Design, 247 Visual Arts, Fontana Design, and SSelectLab, participated in the hands-on workshop, and targeted the signage system of Metro Taipei to probe into users’ behavioral needs and expand the publicity of the issues, ultimately proposing conceptual solutions.
▲ The design teams analyzing existing impressions of Metro Taipei
▲ The design teams discussing whether to keep or improve existing impressions of Metro Taipei
According to Vice President Kanji Kato of GK Sekkei, the service objectives of public issues are to achieve equality and fairness, providing barrier-free public services; moreover, the thinking of “Total Design” presents another key perspective on public services.
He also mentioned that signs are important objects in public environments; they create a link between people and the environment, connect people with city, information, public and private sectors, society, and place, and provide reliable guidance and clear and effective information; they are also closely related to the mutually benefiting public-private partnership, as well as the fusion with local place and connection with the context of local development. Therefore, a good signage system must have close ties with the environment. However, when designing public signs, it is also necessary to satisfy some key principles; through important rules, such as practicality, convenience, symbolism, and aesthetics, assessment is done on the actual case; legibility should also be maximized through different dimensions, including contrast, size, color, illuminance, and accuracy.
▲ Vice President Kato participating in the workshop via video-conferencing and interacting with the design teams
▲ The design teams carrying out the second-stage group discussion, and explaining design concepts to Vice President Kato
During the hands-on workshop, Vice President Kato also brought up a number of important concepts, hoping that all designers would keep the following in mind when working on public projects:
- Adopt different perspectives (first person/self, second person/user, third person/designer) to view the issue of public signs.
- Public signs are a systematic project; they are a part of public furniture.
- When discovering problems, another important key to designing public signs is to also pay attention to whether the users find them convenient and comfortable; expand or trigger greater possibilities through good user experience.
- Exchanging onsite with real users of public sings is a key task of public sign design.
▲ The design teams taking turns to give presentation on user travel maps.
▲ The design teams taking turns to present their achievements in the two-day workshop and propose solutions.
During the two-day workshop, the six design teams started by changing their perspectives to discover problems, and then they analyzed the problems, brainstormed and narrowed down design concepts, and finally developed concrete proposals. The workshop also invited public sign trial subjects to participate in the final achievement presentation, giving feedbacks and exchanging ideas with the teams. Vice President Kato was especially impressed by how the Taiwanese design teams were able to produce great results within such a short period of time and in such a high-intensity workshop, performing well in terms of analyzing problems, planning, and proposing solutions.
▲ Wheelchair users were invited to the workshop to participated in designated routes and interviews, and share feedbacks and thoughts during achievement presentation.
In the future, TDRI will continue to focus on issues in the public domain. Through discussion with professionals in different sectors and referencing their experiences, TDRI strives to introduce greater design energy to Taiwan, and hopes that all design partners can practically apply the gains through this series of seminars to the public environment of Taiwan, jointly transforming Taiwan through design!