The winners of this year’s award are shaping the future of huaren design, setting new standards of innovation and relevance in the Chinese-speaking world.
December 7th, 2016
Chinese-speaking consumers now account for 25 percent of the world’s consumption, and this number is only set to grow. It’s important, therefore, to address the unique identity, as well as the wants and needs, of this diverse global community through design – and this is something the annual Golden Pin Design Award sets out to do.
The winners of this year’s award were announced in the Performance Hall at the Eslite Spectrum Songyan store, Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, Taipei, in a beautiful ceremony curated by Taiwanese motion graphics studio Bito on 1 December 2016. Each product, concept or spatial design was judged on the basis of not only aesthetics and functionality, but also on the grounds of its ability to cater to huaren people all over the world: those who share values and customs, and who speak Chinese.
Oki Sato, Founder of nendo, led the judging panels for the Golden Pin Design Award. Other judges included Mårten Claesson of Claesson Koivisto Rune, who was on the panel for both the Golden Pin Design Award and the Golden Pin Concept Design Award, and Shikuan Chen, from Compal Electronics, Inc.’s Corporate Experiential Design department, who was a member of the jury for the Golden Pin Design Award.
Among the 23 Design Award winners were 14 entrants from Taiwan, including MisoSoupDesign for their cardboard Spiral Stool; SPL DESIGN CO. LTD for their beautiful Saviore Fire Extinguisher; WOOYO for their design for Space of Un-imaginable, an exhibition space at Art Taipei 2015; and JIA Inc. for The Prep, Rolling Mortar, a modern take on the traditional mortar and pestle. Meanwhile, Zanwen Li’s innovative switch mechanism, HENG, was a Best Concept Design winner.
JIA Inc., Taiwan
“One of our partners in the States told us they thought a mortar and pestle was a really useful product. I started thinking, ‘How can we link something that hasn’t changed for a long time, but innovate it?’” says Spencer Hung, Design Manager at JIA Inc., which manufactures home-, table- and kitchen-ware inspired by Chinese culture.
For The Prep, Rolling Mortar, Hung and his team drew on the pool of experts they have access to at JIA Inc. “We invited some of the history experts to come to our studio and share some elements of tea ceremony,” he says. They used a special roller to crush the tea into a fine powder, and this was the seed of Hung’s idea to create a wheel-shaped pestle made from oak wood. “This is a great way to solve something in modern life, but the inspiration came from Chinese history,” says Hung.
School of Architecture and Design, Southwest Jiaotong University, Chengdu, China
Problem solving was top-of-mind for Huang Tao and his team of graduate students from the School of Architecture and Design, Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu – one of the Design Award winners from Mainland China. They won for their ingenious, de-germing trashcan, which is made from 20 percent recycled materials collected from construction sites, along with reinforced concrete, sand and stone. Their bin features a solar-powered UV light that sterilises the rubbish inside the can.
“In Mainland China, we have a lot of construction waste, and yet only 5 percent of it is recycled,” says the university professor. “That’s why we came up with the idea for this de-germing trash can.”
MisoSoupDesign’s Spiral Stool also takes the environment into consideration. Made of corrugated cardboard, it comes flat-packed, limiting its carbon footprint in the transportation phase, and it’s also fully recyclable. The designers conducted endless tests and created a number of prototypes in order to ensure the joints would fit together perfectly, and therefore be capable of supporting weights of up to 100kg.
“Our end goal was to make this into a product that everyone can afford,” says Naga Tomo Daisuke, one half of MisoSoupDesign, the other being his partner in life and work, Minnie Jan. “People also needed to be able to assemble it themselves.”
Meanwhile WOOYO took a philosophical approach to designing Space of Un-Imaginable, the floor plan and exhibition space for the Taiwan Art Gallery Association’s Art Taipei 2015. Here, Taoist and Buddhist concepts of inner reflection came through in both the layout and the vast, mirrored surfaces that featured throughout the temporary space.
“We wanted to convey to visitors that time and space are not what we think,” says Hom Liou of WOOYO. “In Taiwan, we distinguish between what is real and what is not. We incorporated these kinds of ideas into our design.”
For Liou, designing in a way that huaren people understand is not in question – it’s just a part of their nature. “For Chinese, design always start from our roots,” he says.
In the eyes of JIA Inc.’s Hung, however, there’s still work to do in terms of developing a common identity. “I hope that one day, huaren design will be in a place where someone will look at something and recognise that it’s Chinese. With Japanese designs, with Italian designs and with Danish designs, you can tell where they’re from,” he says. “This is not something one brand can do, it’s something everybody has to do. It’s something we hope to be part of.”
Since refining its mission in 2014, the Golden Pin Design Award has been doing its bit to shape huaren design. By placing value on and defining what makes ‘good’ huaren design, the annual award is inspiring Chinese-speaking designers to respect their heritage, while at the same time developing an innovative, modern and distinctive design language common to a substantial segment of the global population.
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