Different countries and regions have their own individual design preferences, and it is always an ongoing topic in design scene. During the Malaysia x Taiwan Bilateral Design Exchange Design Talk, Cheng Chieh Sung – a Taiwanese graphic designer, kicked off the talk with the question “What is the distinctive style of Taiwan’s design?” He continued with a slide of traditional Hakka floral fabric image. “Can this represent Taiwan wholesomely?”
Sung never gave the answer, inversely he showed us some of his works as examples which led to the answer, no. One of his projects – “Haohan Market”, he intelligently used a mixture of typography and the variant pronunciations of Taiwanese in his design. By doing this, it made the visual fresh to the eyes and yet retaining the unique taste of Taiwan. He has shown that the culture of Taiwan are not only be represented by the physical senses such as objects and traditions but also the daily lifestyle and interactions of Taiwanese. Designers should not limit themselves but to look out of the box for ideas that bring resonance to their audience.
While sharing his works, Sung also brought out another interesting point. He indicated that in Taiwan, not only commercial companies are into good design, even the government is on board with the good design mentality too. From his work – “Taipei See The Change”, we found that the Taiwan government’s awareness on the importance of good design correlating to the image of the country on the international stage. This makes me contemplate further of what motivates a government to embrace changes and implement good designs in their campaigns.
Sung then explained during the earlier years of the Taiwan design boom, there were a group of designers including himself, started to work hard in bringing the design awareness to public via aesthetic education proactively. Thus the organization – “Aesthetic Cell” was born and their initiative is to introduce aesthetic education into Taiwan’s education system. The group realised that the textbooks at the time are lack of aesthetic and in some way inhibit student’s creative output. Hence, as a group effort they redesigned a series of textbooks. The redesigned textbooks not only increases the readability but also raising the awareness of aesthetic into the life of the younger generations.
Sung strongly believes that aesthetic is not an individual matter but is a matter of the collective population. Only if all Taiwanese are aware of the aesthetic of their surroundings, then Taiwan will leap together as a country and so does the image of the country.
I was amazed by Sung’s sharing of the current state of Taiwan’s design scene, the initiative taken by the design community to heighten the aesthetic awareness of Taiwanese, I can’t help but wonder what would Malaysian designers offer onto the table? And how can we bring impact to the public through the lens of design thinking?