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Unveiling Innovation: Taiwan's Debut at Milan Design Week Challenges Future Perspectives


Michael Chen

April 2, 2024 - 05:53 am


The Intersection of Design and Society: Taiwan's Inaugural Pavilion at Milan Design Week

TAIPEI, April 2, 2024 - As we navigate through an era marked by sweeping transformations, the pressing question is: Who will thoughtfully interrogate the present to sculpt a better future? For the first time at Milan Design Week, Taiwan stands at the forefront of this exploration, showcasing the compelling work of fifteen Taiwanese studios and brands. Their thought-provoking projects delve into local material culture and offer insight into the role and value of design thinking in contemporary society. It is within these showcased designs that the critical questions facing us are being formulated, with the origin of these thought-provoking inquiries traced back to Taiwan.

An Exploration of Taiwan's Contemporary Design Landscape

Taiwan, an island steeped in history and the complexity of multiple cultural influences including Chinese and Japanese, balances technology's cutting edge with nature's serene beauty. The island is not only encircled by the vast expanse of the ocean but also boasts towering peaks over 3,000 meters in height and an array of picturesque lakes. Renowned worldwide for its tech-savvy, particularly in the semiconductor industry, Taiwan weaves its landscape, culture, and technological prowess into the fabric of its design.

Who is Going to Raise the Questions? The Questions are Designed in Taiwan

The exhibition, titled "Who is going to raise the questions? The questions are designed in Taiwan," is a brainchild of curators Eric Yu, Atelier SUPERB, and Tsung-Yen Hsieh. Hosted within the first-ever Taiwan Pavilion at Milan Design Week, the event is a collaborative endeavor orchestrated by the Industrial Development Administration and the Ministry of Economic Affairs of Taiwan, supported by the Taiwan Ministry of Culture and the executive organizer Taiwan Design Research Institute (TDRI).

The pavilion invites participants on a journey that surpasses mere appreciation of the country’s material culture and design artistry. It boldly challenges existing boundaries and seeks to redefine the contours of creative problem solving on a global scale. The exhibition is a testament to the prowess of the fifteen participating designers and brands, all of whom have garnered distinction through the Golden Pin Awards, which elevates local design excellence.

The collection ranges from home accessories to technology-integrated furniture, sustainable textiles, and materials sourced from recycled and post-industrial resources. By engaging with these innovative designs, visitors are encouraged to reflect on the transformative potential of design in the realms of industry and innovation, fostering a new understanding of quality and production that embraces technology for sustainable social and manufacturing practices.

A Vision of Taiwanese Design on the Global Stage

"We aim to export Taiwan's design ethos to the world," declares Chi-Yi Chang, President of the TDRI. "We intend to showcase our dynamic and vibrant design culture to an international audience, accentuating the creativity, innovation, and master craftsmanship that are hallmarks of Taiwanese culture."

The curators, Eric Yu and Tsung-Yen Hsieh, remark, "Our goal wasn't simply to present exceptional projects. We were in pursuit of voices that echo the rhythm of our times, of designers and companies with a proven track record for pushing the envelope and making substantial contributions to the design industry."

A Spatial Dialogue of Products and Thoughts

Upon stepping into the Taiwan Pavilion, visitors find themselves surrounded by a metaphorical cloud of comics—a creative representation of shared thoughts and questions. Fundamental existential queries such as "Who am I?" and "Where am I from?" resonate through the space, providing a framework for understanding oneself and the community. Through the medium of design, these questions lay the groundwork for conceiving a meaningful future.

The pavilion space, conceptualized by Atelier SUPERB and adorned with graphics by S.SELECT LAB, separates into three distinct zones. The first zone is dedicated to upcycling initiatives, the second celebrates sustainable brands and high-recyclable-composition products, and the third is an interactive area that encourages visitors to jot down and share their thoughts.

Each displayed product is paired with a thought-provoking question aimed at encouraging deeper contemplation, embodying the dialogue balloons and thought balloons akin to those found in comic strips. LED screens throughout the pavilion narrate the production processes and exhibit Taiwan's landscapes, juxtaposing the island's natural beauty against less conventional imagery, such as discarded waste on its beaches.

Supporting and Organizing Entities of the Taiwan Pavilion

The pavilion has been realized through the collective efforts and support of distinguished entities, including the Industrial Development Administration, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Taiwan, and the Taiwan Design Research Institute. It is an exemplary manifestation of creative talent borne out of Taiwan, and a celebration of its vibrant culture through the lens of modern design.

Taiwan Pavilion's Exhibition Graphic

The roster of talent comprises Atelier SUPERB, Eric Yu, Ming-Ching Hsu, Ai-Wei Kung, S.SELECT LAB, and an impressive lineup of Taiwanese brands including Nestle Taiwan Ltd., Nespresso Branch, YSTUDIO, and many others. A synergistic partnership with the Taiwanese Student Association of Milan further enhances the Pavilion's outreach and influence.

The Taiwan Pavilion at Milan Design Week extends an offer to all: immerse yourselves in a unique environment where every product tells a story and every design invites a dialogue, thus sculpting a vibrant intersection where the future of design meets the conscience of contemporary society.

The exploration of Taiwan’s design heritage and its forward-thinking role in asking the right questions offers an inspiring glimpse into the potential for design to act as a catalyst for innovation and change. As visitors journey through the Taiwan Pavilion, the essence of Taiwan unfolds, compelling the global community to ponder upon the questions that will shape our collective future.

Visit the Taiwan Pavilion at Milan Design Week and experience the dialogue of design, questions, and reflections that define and enrich our understanding of a world in continuous transformation.

In conclusion, the Taiwan Pavilion's participation in Milan Design Week is a significant stride towards placing Taiwan at the heart of the global design conversation. It is a space where creativity and technology converge, inviting design enthusiasts and industry professionals alike to experience Taiwan's vision of sustainable and impactful design.

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