The top minds in global design converge at the Golden Pin Design Award 2017 Forum
Dec 10, 2017

Thursday, December 8th, 2017 - Taipei, Taiwan - The Golden Pin Design Award 2017 Forum was held yesterday at the Eslite Spectrum Songyan Performance Hall in Taipei City's Xinyi District, where a panel of presenters representing Europe, Asia, and the U.K. brought forth their ideas on the award ceremony's unifying theme — the concept of “Hui” (Convergence).

Introduction to the speakers, hosted by Lulu Hsia

Kazuo Tanaka, President of GK Design Group (Japan)
Public design & public nature of the design

First to the stage was Kazuo Tanaka, CEO of Tokyo's integrated design firm GK Design Group. With Tanaka at the helm, GK has brought together product, graphic, and public space design, and the latter that was the focus of his talk.

In designing the sleek, futuristic trains that take passengers from Haneda Airport into the heart of Tokyo, Tanaka re-marks on the project’s core concept; the idea that, “Transportation is not just about getting people from one place to another. It becomes a symbol of the city.”

Indeed, Tokyo would no doubt be a far more chaotic place were it not for the meticulous attention to detail put into the city's transportation network signage — another project overseen by Tanaka. In coming up with a coordinated color scheme and the smooth visual aesthetic that lets locals and visitors alike know in which direction they are going, the locations of entrances and exits, and where certain amenities are by color alone, ease of use was never far from the firm's mind.

“Whether it is city signage or public transportation signage,” says Tanaka. “You need to have an easy user interface.”

In recent years, Tanaka has also specialized in products related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals — a framework of 17 ideals, which governments and firms alike are encouraged to aspire to. As such, GK has designed everything from prefabricated houses that can be set up in 72 hours by a team of two, to a wheelchair made especially for airports; one made from a resin that won't set off metal detectors, allowing disabled passengers to move about the terminal hassle-free.

“There has to be an economic benefit to design,” says Tanaka of his firm's goals going forward. “Design is to improve our quality of life.”

Martin Darbyshire, CEO of tangerine (UK)
Leading by design

Next up was Martin Darbyshire, CEO of tangerine, a London-based design firm of just 35 employees that nonetheless boasts a diverse list of international clientele across a wide array of industries, spanning the likes of Panasonic, Sam-sung, and Virgin Australia.

Darbyshire spoke on how the meaning of design has changed since his founding of the firm in 1989, moving from simply encompassing how products are made, and how they look, to being focused more on user experience. In creat-ing the first fully retractable seat for British Airways, for example, Darbyshire explains, tangerine wasn't just looking for a way to let passengers lie down. Rather, the driving force behind the project was, “To change the emotional experience of the passenger.”

This corporate philosophy, Darbyshire points out, is guided by the increasing knowledge of the consumer base in the Digital Age.

“Consumers are better informed than ever,” says Darbyshire. “They are looking for experiences more than physical products. Things have changed.”

As part of a closing Q&A session with event host Lulu Hsia, Darbyshire also touched upon a point raised by Tanaka on the merits of design in public works projects, stating that, “In the public sector, design can play a big role in introducing efficiency.” Later, he added his hope that the Golden Pin Design Award’s host, Taiwan, could eventually cultivate a design start-up culture, and gravitate away from its current reliance on ODM manufacturing.

Rossana Hu, Founding Partner of Neri&Hu Design & Research Office and Design Republic (Taiwan)
Architectural interiority

One of those who has already taken that notion to heart is Taiwan born, U.S.-educated, and Shanghai-based designer Rossana Hu, founding partner of Neri & Hu and Design Republic. Hu spoke knowledgeably and at length on the sub-ject of “interiority” — the idea that, as she put it, “The interior is not just the space within the architecture.”

In moving seamlessly from architectural theorist Marc-Antoine Laugier's concept of the Primitive Hut, from his 1753 work The Essay on Architecture, through quotes from the likes of German philosopher Walter Benjamin, Hu expertly walked the audience through her ideals of interiority, and how interior design is about the way in which the inside space is occupied, and the emotions that are evoked there by the design itself.

“The poetry of movement is often lost in the way we represent architecture,” says Hu. “We use the idea of interiority to make the architecture perform.”

Hu exhibited some of her past projects, including a design revamp of the New Shanghai Theatre in the city's French Concession, noting the way her design carved out the theater's lobby, moving a space that was once interior to the building's exterior. Hu stated that the motivation was, “To give it back to the community so they could get a glimpse of the theater performing. Before you actually see the play, you are seeing the performance of the architecture.”

In closing, Hu also remarked on the increasing prevalence of smart technology in interior design. “I think the next three to five years will be very interesting because a lot of designers will have to utilize this technology in their designs. We're on the cusp of a breakthrough.”

Kristof Crolla, Founder of Laboratory for Explorative Architecture & Design (Hong Kong)
Bending Rules: Maximal Design From Minimal Means

From a woman who born was in the East, educated in the West, then went back East again, the forum moved on to a man who has relocated his work from the West to the East. Belgian architect Kristof Crolla, Founder of Hong Kong's Laboratory for Explorative Architecture & Design, as well as an assistant professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong School of Architecture, spoke of the challenges involved in the convergence of new technology with old building materials in one of his best-known designs — a temporary art installation in Hong Kong called Golden Moon.

The Golden Moon, made for the Moon Festival in 2012, was a globular steel frame, with a bamboo lattice wrapped around the outside, constructed by workers with little to no knowledge whatsoever of the complex mathematical for-mulas and 3D design technology involved on concocting the design. Through the use of spreadsheets and alphanumer-ically coded stickers, Crolla was able to come up with a new way of putting up a bamboo lattice — something that has been a staple of Hong Kong construction for decades, though in a much more simplified form.

Bamboo, Crolla points out, is actually one of the most sustainable building materials on the planet, due to its rapid growth and prevalence within the regions where the globe's population is rapidly skyrocketing. And yet, bamboo re-mains highly underutilized in construction and design alike.

“As designers and architects,” says Crolla, “We have a duty to rethink how those materials are integrated.”

Keng-Ming Liu, Founder and Creative Director of Bito Studio (Taiwan)
Design in Motion, Story on Air

Last but certainly not least on the bill was Taiwan native Keng-Ming Liu, Founder and Creative Director of Taiwan’s pioneering motion design studio Bito. After a decade working in New York, Liu returned to Taipei to start Bito in 2013, and has since taken on several ambitious visual design projects that exist at the nexus of film-making, storytelling, graphic design, and animation.

One of the highlights of Liu's career since his return to Taiwan has been the Taipei In Motion campaign for the 2017 Taipei Universiade international athletics competition. The graphic package, he explained, took the macro concepts of design and incorporated them into filmmaking, evoking feelings of joy and excitement in viewers through an explora-tion of athletic motion itself.

Stunning visuals and vibrant colors are always at the heart of Liu's design work, his clients running the gamut from electronic scooter manufacturer Gogoro to Netflix. But design, he says, which is increasingly bringing together people of all professional stripes, such as animators, copywriters, artists, and art directors, isn't only about making something that looks good. Most of all, it’s about the emotional response.

“We can't just produce eye candy, because beauty isn't an idea. People might not remember the details of the design, but they will remember how it made them feel.”

About the Golden Pin Design Award Group

The annual Golden Pin Design Award is the longest-running international design award that celebrates products or pro-jects expressly created for and within huaren (Chinese-speaking) communities, offering entrants an unprecedented opportunity to prove their prowess in the world’s largest market.

The Golden Pin Award Group is comprised of two international awards — the Golden Pin Design Award, the Golden Pin Concept Design Award — and the Young Pin Design Award for students in Taiwan. The Golden Pin Design Award Group is executed by the Taiwan Design Center and organized by the Industrial Development Bureau, Ministry of Economic Affairs. The Ministry of Economic Affairs acts in an advisory capacity.

For more insight into what it means to design for huaren communities, visit:

For the latest news on the Golden Pin Concept Design Award, visit:

International Media Enquiries
Daniel Cunningham
International Project & PR Marketing Manager, DDG
+886 2 23117007 x 402

Award Enquiries
Janice Cheng
Golden Pin Design Award Team
+886 2 2745 8199 x 335

Award Enquiries
Ruby Chou
Golden Pin Concept Design Award Team
+886 2 2745 8199 x 336

- ASIA TODAY News Global Distribution