The Design Concepts Behind Taiwan's Inaugural Beer and Stamps

The Design Concepts Behind Taiwan's Inaugural Beer and Stamps
Photo Credit: CNA
What you need to know

Taiwan's presidential inauguration is traditionally celebrated with commemorative stamps and a special design of Taiwan Beer. This practice into groundbreaking territory, showing appreciation for contemporary design and representing Taiwan's democratic pluralism.

As Taiwan’s presidential inauguration approaches, commemorative stamps and a special Taiwan Beer packaging have been unveiled to mark the occasion. 

Four years ago, designer Aaron Nieh caused a sensation with his 8-bit pixel themed inaugural paraphernalia, a drastic change from past designs. In 2020, Nieh was commissioned again to design a new line of commemorative products for President Tsai Ing-wen’s inauguration. 

We’ll look back upon the 2016 designs and their 2020 counterpart to compare the artistic decisions that Nieh made. 

Commemorative Stamps (2020)

The four stamps each take a design element as the basis of its structure: dots, lines, shapes, and gradient. Each corresponds to an ideal, or value, embedded in the presidential inauguration. They represent renewal and blossoming forth, democracy, readiness, and direction. Through contemporary aesthetics, the designs convey the pluralistic values of Taiwan.

  1. Blossoming Forth: This stamp takes dots as its main design element, forming firework-like patterns as a symbol of Taiwan’s blossoming democratic, pluralistic values. 
  2. Democracy: This stamp centers on line-based patterns that resemble a mailbox with a staircase to the Presidential Office. It conveys openness and receptivity and likens the mailbox to the government’s ear, always available to citizens for direct communication. 
  3. Readiness: Using shapes as its main element, this stamp portrays a golf ball on the precipice of a hole, connoting the government’s preparedness, efficiency, and commitment to the people. 
  4. Direction: In this gradient-based design, opaque fog transitions to a clear sky. The “light at the end of the tunnel” not only betokens hopeful prospects for the future, but a common direction and purpose.

Another stamp to be released alongside these designs features a portrait of Tsai Ing-wen with vice president-elect William Lai. Photographer Kris Chang, who is known for his refreshing style, captured Taiwan’s leaders in an everyday scene, symbolizing equality and transparency. 

Commemorative Stamps (2016)
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Photo Credit: Aaron Nieh

In a break with the past style of portrait photography, the president and vice-president’s portrait was rendered in pixels and simple lines. Nieh hoped to pay tribute to contemporary aesthetics, acknowledging the tlatest developments in culture and arts.

The geometric pixel design is inspired by the idea of “gathering together,” in the same sense that Taiwan’s President is elected by the people; Taiwan’s community comes from the sum of each individual.

The simple contours also diverge from the past formalism, while possessing beauty, sensibility, change, and freedom. 

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Photo Credit: Aaron Nieh

For the big stamp, it emphasizes the unity of the president and the people. The upper right corner portrays the heads of the president and vice-president, while other parts of the stamp display the symbols of different communities and citizens. 

Taiwan Beer (2020)
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Photo Credit: Aaron Nieh

The 2020 elections were Taiwan’s opportunity to put into practice its pluralistic values for the world to see. The special edition of the inaugural Taiwan Beer followed Belgian-style golden ale fermentation processes. It gives off refined bubbles and a smooth texture with a dense, hoppy flavor. The beer incorporated tropical fruit aroma with a slightly sweet aftertaste. The design of the beer’s packaging echoes with the blossoming theme in the stamp series. 

Taiwan Beer (2016)
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Photo Credit: Aaron Nieh

A continuation of the pixel style, the 2016 inaugural Taiwan Beer also adopted the president and vice-president’s pixelated portrait as the centerpiece of its packaging. Below the portrait was a line that read: “What makes a country great? This country is great because of you,” meaning that every Taiwanese citizen is a thread in the tapestry of the island that was once called Ilha Formosa, or “beautiful island.” 


The 2020 inaugural stamps are available at Chunghwa Post offices beginning on May 20, the day of the inauguration, and the beer is available already at convenience stores (with discounts until June 2). 


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TNL Editor: Nicholas Haggerty, Daphne K. Lee (@thenewslensintl)

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