Leading design thinkers share ideas about human-centered, socially inclusive, and sustainable design for future cities at World Design Capital Taipei 2016
The World Design Capital (WDC) Taipei 2016 International Design Policy Conference brought together leaders in design thinking from around the world in Taipei to share their ideas on the future role of designers, public servants, and private firms in facing the challenges of urbanization and resource scarcity.
The conference, held on the weekend of October 15 and 16, was followed by the WDC Taipei 2016 International Design Week Forum on October 17 and 18, which saw organizers of leading design weeks discuss how to elevate the value of design weeks as platforms for promoting design.
Prof. Mugendi M’Rithaa, President of Icsid, described the conference as an opportunity to “exchange practical and inspiring solutions that strengthen design’s role in urban planning, and which set the foundation for a design-led legacy program which resonates far beyond the designated World Design Capital year.”
“Design is not just about seeking aesthetics in objects, it is about an attitude of thinking,” said Mayor of Taipei City Ko Wen-je. “To change Taiwan, we must start with the capital; to change the capital, we must change the culture; and to change the culture, we must start with design.”
Mayor Ko added that implementing design into urban development requires collaboration across different bureaus within government, as well as from citizens and professional designers, and stated that “our vision is to make Taipei a livable and sustainable city by 2050.”
Mayor Ko was joined in the first session by public officials from previous and future World Design Capital cities, including Jussi Pajunen, Mayor of Helsinki; Ian Neilson, Executive Deputy Mayor, City of Cape Town; and Miguel Torruco Marqués, Secretary of Tourism, Mexico City.
They shared thoughts on the role public officials can play in supporting and investing in social design innovation to develop a sustainable and inclusive urban future. Anne Stenros, the newly appointed Chief Design Officer of Helsinki, noted the trend of design moving away from a “user-centric” approach towards a “citizen-driven” mindset that encompasses a more holistic and participatory view of design.
In further sessions, Jocelyn Wyatt, Co-Lead and Executive Director of IDEO.org, and Rama Gheerawo, Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design and the RCA Reader in Inclusive Design, elaborated on their approaches to human-centered, social design and the importance of empathy.
Having both conducted design interventions with lower socio-economic and disadvantaged communities, Gheerawo spoke of the importance of breaking down social barriers through simple, fun exercises in order to open up genuine conversations. Wyatt further emphasized the need for tangible and measurable results, and the value of deep listening in gaining insight and inspiration for solutions that can scale.
Professor Dung-Sheng Chen, from the Department of Sociology at National Taiwan University, stated that “every citizen should be a social designer and have the ability to participate in the process of social design.” Professor Chen spoke of the rapid progression of Taiwan since 1987 towards a democratic and inclusive society, highlighting the many ways that now exist for citizens to participate in policy, budgeting, and shaping the city through platforms like join.gov.tw.
In her first public appearance since starting in her role as the first and youngest Digital Minister without portfolio for the Executive Yuan, Audrey Tang gave an introduction to her involvement in hackathons with the civic tech community with the aim of bringing about greater government transparency. She was joined by Julia Kloiber, Project Lead for the Open Knowledge Foundation in Germany, who also spoke of the role designers can play in supporting software developers and engineers to make complex data sets accessible to citizens.
Shikuan Chen, Vice President of Experience Design at Compal Electronics; Annete Baumeister, the Studio Director of Shanghai Designworks for the BMW Group; and Mike Orgill, the Director of Public Policy in the Asia Pacific region for Airbnb, spoke on the “sharing economy.” Since sharing of assets can reduce the demand for precious natural resources and limited urban space, the speakers suggested that designers’ efforts will increasingly focus on user experience over ownership. Baumeister showcased the Mini Vision Next 100, a futuristic concept car which is autonomous, electric, and designed to be shared.
For more information on speakers and topics at the conference, visit their website.
The International Design Week Forum brought together organizers of design weeks from cities including Beijing, Chiang Mai, Dubai, Eindhoven, Holon, London, Tokyo Paris, Sydney, and areas and countries including Hong Kong, Mexico, Singapore, and Taiwan. During the fruitful exchange, organizers shared ideas on how to overcome common challenges and developed strategies to share resources in future.
“I think that it’s important as design weeks that together we look into how we can strengthen the ties between the weeks, to make a network that is useful for our design communities,” said Ingrid Van der Wacht, International Projects Manager of Dutch Design Week.
“Through this forum we were able to get to know each other better, and understand how other people curate their own event. We’re already starting to think about the next step, of how we can work together in future,” added Ben Chiu, Executive Director of Taiwan Designers’ Week.
Organized by Taiwan Designers’ Web, the forum was held on Monday, October 17 at the Xue Xue Institute and Tuesday, October 18 at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. The International Design Policy Conference was held at the Taipei International Convention Center. For more information on speakers and topics at the forum, please click here.
The WDC Taipei 2016 International Design House Exhibition, located in the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, will be open every day from 10AM to 6PM, from now until Sunday, October 30, and is free for all visitors. A free shuttle bus service will be provided from Songshan Cultural Creative Park to three satellite exhibition areas around the city, including Yongkang Street, Zhongshan-Shuanglian District, and Wanhua-Dadaocheng District.
About WDC Taipei 2016
“Adaptive City — Design in Motion” was Taipei City’s core concept in its 2015 application to host World Design Capital 2016. How can we apply innovative “design thinking” practices to overcome the constraints that limited resources place on our city’s development, pursue continual change in our urban governance, create happiness in the lives of our citizens–providing them with a better quality of life in a more livable, forward-looking city? These are the goals for Taipei City. 2016 marks the beginning of an evolution for Taipei, where we will take advantage of the potential in change by “Engaging Communities,” “Connecting Information,” and “Revitalizing the City.” For more information on WDC Taipei 2016, visit the official website, or follow on Facebook.
About World Design Capital
World Design Capital® (WDC) is designated by Icsid every two years to recognize a city’s innovative use of design for economic, social and cultural development and to showcase effective design-led urban revitalization strategies that other cities can benefit from. Past cities to hold the WDC title include Torino (Italy) in 2008, Seoul (South Korea) in 2010, Helsinki (Finland) in 2012, and Cape Town (South Africa) 2014. Taipei (Taiwan) is this year’s WDC, and Mexico City has just been named WDC 2018.