Why Taipei

In just 50 years, the City of Taipei has reinvigorated its urban landscape to include a sophisticated transit system, specialized medical care and a bustling cultural infrastructure. Under the theme Adaptive City – Design in Motion, Taipei demonstrates why cities must be able to adapt to meet citizens’ demands.

Bid Video

To demonstrate that Taipei City is outstandingly well qualified to host World Design Capital 2016, they produced a stunning promotional video. The production team spent 10 months on the project, including two months of location filming and six months of animation and postproduction. The editing process drew on interviews with 22 individuals and footage from 47 filming locations to distill the final video.

The video starts with an animated sequence of modern maps and images that show the thread of Taipei City’s development and express the overarching theme of an Adaptive City that has undergone a continuous process of growth and metamorphosis. The film features interviews with 11 internationally known designers, artists and cultural workers from various fields, including Lin Hwai-min, Ju Ming, Tong Yang-Tze, Chen Jun-Liang, Ray Chen, Chen Wen-Long and Shiatzy Chen. It stresses the concept of “design is for people,” and lets designers, products, and the city itself tell their own stories, bearing witness to Taipei’s uniquely nourishing cultural soil. A total of seven minutes in length, the video shows a unity of style from beginning to end, and its flowing images, superb animations, lively interviews and vibrant street scenes, accompanied by a strongly rhythmic musical soundtrack, vividly portray how Taipei is a city that loves design and has boundless design potential!

The effort and care that the city government and the production team put into making this video was recognized by a 2013 red dot award in Communication Design and a 2014 iF award in Communication, further projecting Taipei design onto the international stage to rank together with world-class design works.

Bid Book

To prepare the international Bid Book that Taipei City presented for its application to host World Design Capital 2016, in the space of 10 months, including information gathering and discussions with 23 designers from many different fields, the project team compiled a work comprising 140,000 characters of Chinese text and 60,000 words of English, to comprehensively showcase Taipei’s rich local power in the fields of industrial, graphic, architectural and interior design and in terms of the city’s distinctive culture.

The Bid Book is presented as a set of five scrolls, and features a highly distinctive binding method—“dragon-scale binding”—which is based on ancient Chinese bookbinding methods, while also incorporating modern design elements. The binding is so named because the book’s pages are glued in succession by one edge to the backing scroll, so that they overlap, giving the appearance of the scales of a dragon, which in Chinese culture is an auspicious magical beast. When a scroll is laid out flat it presents a complete “cover page” image, and the turn of each page also offers a new surprise.

The Bid Book comprises five such “dragon-scale” scrolls. The cover page of Scroll I shows a work of calligraphy, 16 characters long, by the famous Taiwanese calligrapher Tong Yang-Tze. The words of the inscription, “ru qie ru cuo, ru zhuo ru mo, ru jin ru xi, ru gui ru bi” (“like cutting and filing, like chiseling and polishing”; “like gold or tin, like a jade scepter or a jade ring”), are quoted from a poem in the ancient Chinese anthology The Book of Songs. They allude to the adaptive spirit of continually pondering and reflecting, and constantly striving to improve.

The cover image of Scroll II presents a dialogue between five masterpieces selected from the collection of the National Palace Museum, and five works of modern Taiwanese industrial design. Their juxtaposition represents how industrial design in the Chinese-speaking world continues the Chinese cultural heritage. The cover image of Scroll III shows a work by Jimmy, one of Taipei’s most influential illustrators. It is a mural in a style full of fantasy, with which Jimmy decorated an outside wall of the Pavilion of Dreams at the 2010 Taipei International Flora Exposition. In the mural, enormous colorful blossoms adorn the city, making it more vivid and lively. The cover image of Scroll IV presents in intersecting images and lines an interior design created for Eslite Bookstores by the well-known interior designer Ray Chen. The special design style symbolizes the cross-disciplinary character and the diversity of Taipei design.

The cityscape with mountains and rivers that is the cover image of Scroll V shows Taipei at its most natural and primitive—an exquisitely valuable heritage. It symbolizes how in Taipei City at each place where design is practiced, and through our design power and orientation, we hope that through design we can make our city a better place, a constantly improving Adaptive City.

To print the Bid Book scrolls we specially selected a textured paper developed in Japan and manufactured in Taiwan, which thanks to its special fibers has the feel of traditional Xuan calligraphy paper. The presentation case that contains the scrolls was created by local craftsmen from Moso bamboo, which grows abundantly in Taiwan, and the distinctive black serpentine jade of Hualien County in Eastern Taiwan. From inside to outside, from content to form, the five-scroll dragon-scale Bid Book and case gives the impression of a collectible artwork. Taipei’s meticulous care in preparing the Bid Book was also recognized with a 2014 iF award in Communication!

Selection Committee

The 2016 WDC Selection Committee consisted of Prof. Soon-in Lee, Icsid President (South Korea); Patricia de Lille, Executive Mayor of the City of Cape Town; Ayse Birsel, Co-founder and Creative Director, Birsel + Seck; Dr. Beatriz Garcia, Head of Research in Cultural Policy & Impact, Institute of Cultural Capital and Senior Research Fellow in Sociology, University of Liverpool; and Jens Martin Skibsted, Creative Director and Founder, KiBiSi / Skibsted Ideation.

Announcement and Celebration

During the 28th Icsid General Assembly in Montreal (Canada), the city of Taipei was announced as World Design Capital 2016. A delegation from the city presented their future plans with their appointment followed by an evening celebration at the Caisse Populaire de Depot in the Old Port of Montreal.