Lessons to learn from Taipei, the World Design Capital 2016

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There are wonderful lessons we can learn from Taipei’s reign as the World Design Capital 2016. As part of a year-long event themed ‘Adaptive City — City in Motion’, various projects and exhibitions had taken place in the city to spark local interest in urban development and spatial reinvention. Not only that, the discourse also helped shine the spotlight on the city’s most creative talents in this field. So what lessons can we take from Taipei, to help make our own Kuala Lumpur a better home?

 1. Art motivates communication.

Artistic sensibility appears to be the building blocks of Taipei’s urban reinvention. The year has culminated in an exhibition series called ‘International Design House’. Taking place at the Songsan Cultural and Creative Park, the events not only honoured the city’s cultural heritage and design prowess, but also gathered thinkers and creatives alike to communicate and exchange ideas of innovation. From this, we learn that art, whether as a way to communicate a present success or to scribe future ideas, is what brings people together. Because art is also an emotive channel, it is the perfect tool to instil in people ideas of economic and social revolutions.

Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. Photo: World Design Capital Taipei 2016.

2. Form facilitates function.

Up until now, Taiwan was only known for being a lead in the technology manufacturing sector. But recent years have bore witness to a steady climb in local crafts production. Materials the likes of leather, ceramic, wood, textiles, and metal have starred in many creations shown the ‘International Design House’. One can argue that function precedes form, and in many ways, it is true. But think about it. Design is what makes us feel connected to our homes, determines our geographical preferences, and reasons our choices of homeware. It is in the aesthetics that cultural assurances are symbolised and reflected. After all, when it comes to spatial reinvention, there is no greater pull than the emotional need for it. And what is civilisation without social conventions to reason its blueprint?

The International Design House exhibition at Songshan. Photo credit: World Design Capital Taipei 2016.

3. Care designs effort.

Taipei’s status as a Design Capital reflects the thinking minds of its population. We learn that we shouldn’t leave it to just the architects, property developers and authority figures to inspire ideas or solutions for our urban environment. As inhabitants of our city, we all have a say on its future, from the way its spaces should look to the kind of proprietary functions we want exist. Perhaps our influence won’t be scientific, technical or literal. But nevertheless we are involved in our city’s development processes, in the way that we operate as its people. The daily decisions we choose to make and the materials we choose to use affect our place in society, which then affects our environment’s “supply and demand” chains. Our living plans and choices reflect our the virtue of our social convictions. And to be heard, we just need to care.

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