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Taipei Design and City Exhibition embodies inclusive spirit

By Yali Chen
In its sixth year, Taipei Design and City Exhibition kicked off at the Nos. 4 and 5 Warehouse in the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, and will run until October 21.
Themed “Taipei All Inclusive,” the three-week exhibition aims to offer a fresh new experience to dazzle the sensibilities of viewers. Its theme is divided into five parts – “Playing Arts,” “Happy Aging,” “Street Activation,” “Inclusive Play,” and “Green Life” – to present nearly 40 domestic and international exhibits that include 10 films, 6 interactive experience devices, 1 VR (virtual reality) experience device where viewers can have fun in Japanese city blocks. One multimedia interactive device takes viewers to explore application design patterns.

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Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je (right) has a taste of tea in the “Tea for Peace” events,
organized by Japanese designer Teruo Kurosaki (left).

Taiwan’s Wang Yu-ling and the Tokyo-based designer Teruo Kurosaki are this year’s exhibition curators.
Kurosaki, a leading figure in Japan’s contemporary design world, owns the Idée and Sputnik chains of design shops in Tokyo and a string of restaurants. He recently opened the Ikejiri Institute of Design – an “incubator” for young Japanese designers – in an abandoned junior school. Many world-class designs have been introduced into Japan by Kurosaki, who says that design is a way of life. He has developed his own aesthetic style.

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Two members of the exhibition staff talk about the preparation of the “Tea for Peace” events.
“Design can be used to solve social problems and promote the development of an entire city,” Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je said at the press conference on September 26. “Design can be also integrated into our daily life in a professional but accessible way to fill our city life with aesthetics.”
He used the redevelopment of the area to the west of Taipei Main Station as an example of local design aesthetics. Once upon a time, Taipei was described as one of the ugliest cities in the world because many buildings and signboards looked ugly.

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One high school student plays with building blocks in the “Playing Arts” area.

But in recent years, many designs with the inclusive spirit can be seen in the capital city, he said. These include playgrounds, painted electrical boxes, and small beautiful signs. “I hope that through everyone’s efforts, Taipei becomes a truly friendly and innovative city.”
Kurosaki said that this year’s exhibition is based on the concept of “design without boundaries.” Design is not limited to any specific area. Every aspect of life is a part of design, i.e. food, culture, etc. “Of course, the entire city must also incorporate the concept of design,” he said.

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Photo from TPAP
A child plays in the “Inclusive Play” area filled with inclusive playground equipment.

Kurosaki set up a series of “Tea for Peace” events at the exhibition. They present the combined features of Japanese and Taiwanese tea cultures. His team also designed a special tea cart for the tea events. Those who came to the exhibition before September 30 had a taste of exquisite Japanese tea.
By working with Kurosaki, Wang saw this year’s exhibition as a boost for Taipei to become an international city. She hopes that viewers from here and overseas will like Taipei through the three-week event.
“The goal of design is to improve a city,” Wang said. “We can see diverse cultures integrated into Taipei, and Taiwan is linking up with the world.”

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“The Human Trap,” created by Stockholm-based sculptor Evelina Kollberg,
is definitely the highlight of Taipei Design and City Exhibition.

The theme of this year’s exhibition, “Taipei All Inclusive,” was the outcome of Taiwan-Japan cooperation. The two curators hope that by seeing nearly 40 domestic and international design presentations, viewers can better understand how design helps to solve a wide variety of social phenomena as modern cities develop.
“Design can be used as one of the best methods for cities to become more inclusive,” Wang said.
Located at the No. 4 Warehouse, the “Playing Arts” gives visitors a myriad of aesthetic experiences. Wang explained that exhibits from Japan, Finland and Taiwan serve to develop an aesthetic sense for the beautiful and to accept the importance of aesthetic education.
Artistic experience plays an important role in aesthetic education. The “Playing Arts” area was designed to have a number of multimedia interactive experience devices. For example, Taiwanese artist Hu Kun-jung’s presented his geometric abstract artwork, “The Rite of Spring,” in a three-dimensional way. Part of the collection of Taipei Fine Arts Museum, his creation aims to help children develop the ability to enjoy art and beauty by engaging in design.
The “Happy Aging” area is next to “Playing Arts.” Viewers can see how universal design can make life easier and safer for the elderly. Universal design means products, buildings, and environments accessible and usable by everyone, regardless of age or disability.
Wang selected a couple of excellent cases to introduce the concept of home exchange plans and intergenerational housing cooperatives where elderly people live together with young adults to help Taiwan’s elderly.
In April 2018, the Interior Ministry announced that Taiwan had officially transitioned from an “aging society” to an “aged society,” with slightly over 14 percent of its population now 65 years old or above. In other words, one out of every seven people is now in that age group.
In the “Happy Aging” area, there are some replicas of units in the Yangming Senior Apartment in Taipei City. Meanwhile, a series of events will be held for the elderly to help foster flexible thinking and develop healthy body and mind.
Located in the “Street Activation” area, Gufeng Little White House is a volunteer-run, community service dedicated to encouraging the repair and reuse of goods rather than dumping them in landfill. The group teaches people to see their possessions in a new light and appreciate their value once again. Many volunteers have been recruited to act as repair experts. During the exhibition, some repair specialists will stay at the exhibition space to provide furniture and home appliance repair services.
In addition, viewers can see how other countries improve their communities through a couple of examples of street activism and community sharing from Japan and the U.S. These examples help change people’s mindset. This is essential to kindle people’s enthusiasm for a sustainable society.
In the “Inclusive Play” area, Wang tried to create play environments by using inclusive playground equipment that welcome kids and families of all abilities to learn, play and grow together.
Just as the name suggests, the meaning of inclusive playgrounds goes beyond their physical space and specialized equipment. These playgrounds do so much for the communities. They educate and bring families and people together. They stress the importance of inclusion in daily activities, no matter the ability level. They prove that kids of all abilities enjoy exploring, learning, interacting and having fun together.
To promote inclusion, Taipei City’s Department of Cultural Affairs has worked with a couple of civil groups and designers to create inclusive playgrounds that harmonize playground equipment with the local cultural landscape.
A wide variety of topics from edible food, food waste, and slow fashion will be discussed in the “Green Life” area. Program designers from different countries and cultural backgrounds recognize the importance of zero waste and try to come up with specific solutions.
For example, the Ximending-based Eco Tano Workshop offers a number of hand-woven products from recycled fabric to promote the concept of slow fashion and sustainable use.
In addition, Stockholm-based sculptor Evelina Kollberg’s artwork “The Human Trap” is definitely the highlight of this year’s exhibition. Kollberg discovered the method of crochet when she studied at Paris College of Art in 2014 as an Erasmus scholar. She also won a scholarship from Ung Svensk Form 2017 (the Swedish Society of Crafts and Design) through one of her sculptures.
“The Human Trap” is a monumental crochet interactive sculpture, an adult playground, and a place for our inner nature to come alive and play. Made of recycled fabric and metal construction, it encourages viewers to understand the materials used by crawling through it.