Founded in 2003, Taiwan Design Expo has been held in nearly 10 cities over the last two decades, accumulating more than 21 million visitors. Each year, experts and consultants would join the curatorial team to coordinate local elements and add value to local industries through designs to showcase unique regional characteristics with the regional government. More and more cities are seeing the design exhibition as a key platform to rebranding their cities in recent years. The exhibition also boosts local residents’ pride in their hometowns. Moreover, it provides a way for out-of-towners to fully grasp a city’s history, culture, and unique characteristics. This year marks the third Taiwan Design Expo in Kaohsiung.
Initially held at Weiwuying (National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts) in 2005, the exhibition was moved to the Pier-2 Art Center in 2012. After rejuvenating the places via designs, the two aforementioned venues have both become vital forums of arts and culture for the city. Finally returned to Kaohsiung after a decade, this year’s Expo not only upheld monumental historical significance, but also bore witness to Kaohsiung’s modernization since the 20th century, as well as its brand-new urban outlook created by the power of designs.
The 2022 Taiwan Design Expo, held in Kaohsiung with the theme of “twdesign.tw” showcased the largest exhibition to date. The three exhibition areas, “Design Zone”, “City Exhibit”, and “Design Responses”, cumulatively housed 33 exhibitions and more than 1,000 relevant events and happenings spread out over all of Kaohsiung’s 38 administrative districts. The unique historical significance of this year’s exhibition also prompted the organizers to set foot at Penglai Business Port, also known as “the economic backbone of Kaohsiung”, as the backdrop to the Taiwan Design Expo. Penglai was once a crucial port for transferring shipments from the Port of Kaohsiung and helped Taiwan market its abundant agricultural products to the rest of the world. Having revamped several large warehouses by the port, the past economic backbone is transformed into the main exhibition area, the “Design Zone”. Its 355,000 square feet exhibition area not only makes it the largest exhibition venue, but also makes this year’s Taiwan Design Expo the largest design exhibition over the past decade. On top of the main attraction, seven historical sites are open to the public as part of the “City Exhibit”. Nearly 1,000 exhibition-related events are also held throughout Kaohsiung’s 38 districts, covering various themes of everyday life, including food, clothing, accommodations, transportation to recreation. The exhibition strives to change the day-to-day lives of Kaohsiung’s residents via designs.
On top of the exciting and diverse events, this year’s design exhibition also had the most number of designers. More than 500 designers coming from various fields have converged at Kaohsiung to join this year’s Design Expo. By utilizing their collective ideas and skills, they initiated conversations between urban governance and design thinking to create the branding of Kaohsiung jointly. The public is encouraged to appreciate Taiwanese designs from a viewpoint distinctively from Kaohsiung. The 2022 Taiwan Design Expo received positive reviews from residents of Kaohsiung as well as the general public. On top of being reported by more than 1,000 news articles, it also accumulated 6 million visits. The Expo attracted people to come and witness Kaohsiung’s transformation through designs and created an estimated NT$4.9 billion worth of revenue in tourism!
The trendiest, hippest designs are represented in 10 themed exhibitions, 7 historical venues, and 38 districts.
The 10 exhibitions showcased by the center stage “Design Zone” all portrayed various aspects of Kaohsiung’s designs, such as industry developments, circular designs, regional industries, smart tourism, youth designs, metaverse, and more. The “Power of Taiwan Design”, consists of twenty-two 40-inch shipping containers, each holding the designs from twenty-two exceptional art and design teams throughout Taiwan. They displayed works from various disciplines, including architecture, graphic design, music, fashion, and social welfare. Shipping containers as a forum to demonstrate the impact of designs on the general public was particularly eye-catching, attracting long queues of anticipated visitors. On top of the designs and arts, brilliant performances involving lasers and lights lit up every night. The beams of light and music transformed the harborside at night. At the same time, the bar stationed at the center of the containers also provided a relaxing evening and a chance to enjoy Kaohsiung’s portside nightscape after seeing the unique designs during the day.
Another highlight of this year’s Expo was the “Future Safari”, in which a next-generation cruise ferry was constructed using a combination of design and technology. By linking the Port of Kaohsiung’s historical developments and the future imaginations for the Asia New Bay Area, a vision for smart tourism exclusive to Kaohsiung was born. Visitors could get a firsthand experience of this vision by boarding the ferry and watching the exhibition.
Besides displaying Taiwanese designs from the perspective of Kaohsiung, inviting people around Taiwan to experience its passionate and vibrant creative energy, the 2022 Taiwan Design Expo also introduced design thinking elements to the public’s ordinary lives. From the traditional market, the fish market, the wedding backdrop makeover at the household registration offices, youth housing, and giving taxis a complete makeover, the 2022 Taiwan Design Expo left a lasting impression on regional designs and the city rather than a brief spark. The vitality of arts and designs are now etched into every corner of Kaohsiung.
Hundreds of designers came together while young designers showed off their enthusiasm and aspirations.
More than 560 designers participated in this year’s Taiwan Design Expo, while efforts were also made to focus on young designers from the new generation. For instance, the main visual this year was created by Local Remote, the youngest team of designers in the history of the Expo. The team utilized Processing, a coding technology, to build the coolest visual design, which also corresponded with Kaohsiung’s active developments in innovative technology in recent years. Moreover, this was the first time that the Youth Bureau of Kaohsiung City Government took part in Taiwan Design Expo, and high school students were invited to showcase their works, which astonished everyone with their youthful energy and creativity.
The collective efforts of curators, designers, and staff helped the 2022 Taiwan Design Expo achieve tremendous success and break numerous records. Building on this year’s success, the Taiwan Design Expo will continue to drive cities forward using designs and bring even more profound influences to regional designs and cityscapes. Taiwan Design Expo is more than just a moment in time. After the exhibition has wrapped, designs and creative energy continues to drive the city forward as design thinking has already blended into every street and the lives of its inhabitants. Moreover, the public can see how design governance has shaped Kaohsiung and made it so one-of-a-kind.
About Taiwan Design Expo
Since its inception in 2003, Taiwan Design Expo has become one of the largest annual design exhibitions in Taiwan. Organized by Industrial Development Bureau, Ministry of Economic Affairs, and executed by TDRI, the Expo collaborates with different a municipal governments every year through call for submissions; targeting local lifestyle, culture, and unique industrial features, the Expo utilizes design thinking to reinterpret the meaning of the new age, and presents the present and future of local design and industries through exhibitions and diverse activities, hoping to explore domestic and international issues of design and industries by curating thematic exhibitions.