Director of WDC Mexico City 2018 Reflects on Taipei

Director of WDC Mexico City 2018 Reflects on Taipei
Photo Credit: WDC Mexico City 2018

What you need to know

What can Mexico City learn from Taipei, this year's World Design Capital? And what challenges does it face?

Mexico City will be following Taipei in joining the network of World Design Capital (WDC) cities in 2018, aiming to transform lives through design.

Introduced in 2008, the WDC biennial designation showcases cities that have successfully used design to reinvent themselves and to improve the economic, social, cultural, and environmental lives of their residents.

Taipei was chosen as WDC 2016 in 2013 and has since held events, including exhibitions, talks and installations, to show the impact design can have on the daily lives of local people.

The latest event in the series, The International Design House Exhibition, opened on Oct. 13 at the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park. The grand scale exhibition showcases international and local designs. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) were at the opening ceremony.

In addition to Taiwanese government officials and people from the local creative and culture industry, city representatives from past WDC cities were also at the ceremony. This includes Emilio Cabrero, general director of WDC Mexico City 2018.

“We are excited to be here because it is always important to see firsthand what other cities are doing,” Cabrero told The News Lens International on the sidelines of the event.

The director said he had noticed a lot of similarities between Taipei and Mexico during the few days he had spent in Taiwan, which gave him “a certain sense of security.”

“We were very happy to find the bike-sharing system [in Taipei], which is very similar to ours,” said Cabrero. “We can also relate to the old culture like yours.”

The director was also interested in the two parks in Taipei that were created as part of a joint project for WDC Taipei 2016. Both were built from recycled or waste materials and used a design model developed to involve local residents. He noted a program called “Pocket Parks” in Mexico City, which utilizes unused land and urban spaces to create playgrounds.

“It has been interesting for the different communities, especially because Mexico City has many areas of opportunity that, through design, can develop and create different solutions to enhance the quality of life of people who are living in those neighborhoods,” Cabrero said.

He also expressed admiration for President Tsai’s message of creating a local economy focused on design and bringing design solutions to the redevelopment of Taipei and the country.

Cabrero said he has a similar goal in mind. He says he hopes to “connect the different dots” in design, design education and innovation with the importance of the cultural and creative industries along with technology.

“We have to give a connection to our people, to our roots, to who we are,” he said. “But it also needs to be a city that is 'readable' to other people who are arriving from other countries.”

Still, Cabrero believes that connecting locals and visitors will be the biggest challenge for WDC Mexico City 2018. And while he says it will be “very difficult” to have an impact on such a big city, the director hopes to create a space for reflection and thinking for both locals and visitors during the city’s time as WDC.

Though the team is focusing on the center of the city where most museums, galleries and design stores are located, Cabrero says many other areas in Mexico City are under renovation. The director also points out a lot has been happening in the local creative scene, such as international art and design fairs, workshops and lectures, which have been well-received by the locals.

“It is the right timing now for Mexico City to show the world what it has to offer,” he said.

First Editor: Edward White
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole