On its 19th anniversary, Taiwan Design Expo opened the gate of Chiayi City for the first time in 2021, welcoming people from all over to come back to the city, come back home. Themed as ‘City as Home’, the expo manifested Chiayi’s resemblance of Chia (home) everywhere from its cultural memory, city scale, and warm hospitality. In particular, the expo emphasized Chiayi’s compact and exquisite space, where a city with the size of merely 60 km2 and a population of only 260,000 can muster such an immense amount of energy. The annual design event held in late December 2021 reshaped this Peach City (another name for Chiayi City due to its peach-shaped territory in ancient times) with a sense of belonging to explore and reproduce the true essence of Home.
Strolling on the new Silk Road with traditional and modern cultural elements, and unfolding unlimited imagination of the city.
In recent years, Taiwan Design Expo has transitioned from re-vitalizing specific architectural fields to building city brands. Through channeling design power into local industries, city modernology continues to brew. One of the most noticeable differences is the 2019 Taiwan Design Expo themed ‘Super South’ held in Pingtung, where a uniquely-designed supermarket with this agricultural county’s natural local features was tailor-made in order to cultivate the profound local identity. Likewise, the 2020 Taiwan Design Expo under the theme ‘CHECK in HSINCHU’ used the high-tech city concept to promote a city of pedestrians.
‘City as Home,’ opened up Chiayi city in an urban planning mindset. The exhibition areas unfolded along the new cultural Silk Road, the most profound artistic culture belt in Chiayi City. The unique exhibition areas included premises full of tourism potential and City of Wood revitalization industries, such as Chiayi Cultural and Creative Industries Park, which was initially one of the earliest sorghum wine production sites. Now a hot spot for local young entrepreneurs and their brands, the location still preserves the historical wine storage barrels, conveyor belts for wine bottles, chimney, sorghum grain storage tanks, and the like.
During the Japanese colonial era, Chiayi Timber Factory Park, known as Toyo Daiichi (No. 1 in Japan), possessed precious cultural assets from various forestry process industries. This unique exhibition told through design shares the story of forestry and railway development. The national historic site of Chiayi Old Prison, reopened as Chiayi Prison Museum, is one of the world’s few Pennsylvanian prisons fully preserved and now run by a local revitalization team as a Jail Hostel. Chiayi Art Museum, renovated by the Taiwan Tobacco and Wine Monopoly Bureau, is now a popular spot for young tourists and recently won the prestigious Taiwan Construction Award with its classical turquoise door frame and glass curtain designs.
In addition, the Design Expo broke through its peers’ usual framework and blended exhibitions into everyone’s daily life, such as procuring Chiayi’s national historic site of Chiayi City God Temple and the famous temple Dizang Temple of Mt. Jiouhwa as a city temple museum. Therefore, the exhibitions brushed up the traditional temple arts with brand new design notions and led visitors to explore cultural crafts from daily life during the period of a burning joss stick. The ‘Fresh in East Market’ event was also held to open the ‘Chiayi East Market’ by introducing local youth’s design and art. This injected the traditional market with vibrant originality and brought design energy and more diversified possibilities to this aging city of more than 300 years.
With the opportunity of the Taiwan Design Expo’s debut in Chiayi, a golden key introduced by design has unlocked the creative momentum of Chiayi City in the living, industry, and public sectors. Besides, the new cultural Silk Road, linking the city’s tourism and leisure industry, allows Chiayi’s local aesthetics to blossom everywhere along its path.
A journey home (Chia), calling local talents from all fields to participate in this Expo.
The Expo gathered nine curatorial consultants and more than twenty teams this year, twelve of whom are Chiayi locals or have resided in Chiayi. Experts in film editing, scriptwriting, designs, architecture, and local revitalization were all called upon to energize this new bustling home for their beloved city.
The main pavilion, Re: Chiayi, A new message from Chiayi, designed by Grow Architecture’s Architect Jou, Rong-Jing, and Studio ++’s Architect Su Hung transformed the century-old historical brewery to dig deeper into Chiayi’s industrial context and its connection with Taiwan’s daily perspective. The young and esteemed editor Brian Ming-Chang Huang organized the Chiayi City: Another Way of Living, which refined local spirit from speed, time, and size perspectives, fully displaying the city’s leisurely and appropriate character, as well as the Factory in the Middle, which created perfect chemistry between design and local brands.
In addition, local vendors also enjoyed brand optimization and gained public attention by presenting fresh designs and renovating the Eco Night Market at Wenhua Road. With accessible designs that designers and non-designers can enjoy, people were able to enjoy exhibits during the day and feast at night markets all evening. The 2021 Taiwan Design Expo demonstrated collective strength and affection for our homeland and worked in close collaboration to construct the amicable sense of the city as home.
Creating influence for local design and city
With the rapid development of technology and the transformation of social values, a style of symbiosis and coexistence and a state full of harmony and contradiction exists between the past and the future, between tradition and modernity. Design acts as a vital catalyst for the reconciliation between different elements. A city’s uniqueness shares a connection with professionalism in design that originates from a humanitarian perspective. A city’s brand can be built by leveraging the power of design while revitalizing the location multilaterally.
The 2021 Taiwan Design Expo in Chiayi embraced the entire Chiayi City as an exhibition venue. It covered a city, three concepts of home, thirteen places of home, eighteen expressions of home, and over one hundred markets, performances, talks, and workshops during the exhibition. With over two million visitors attracted, the centuries-old city of Chiayi has successfully transformed itself into the centre of attraction through the energy of design. The exhibition lives on after the curtain falls. The aesthetic seed of design is sowed in every visitor’s heart and continues to blossom. With the design, doors will open for an influential city named Chiayi.
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.