Can Golden Pin Award Raise Taiwan's Profile in the Design World?

Credit: Golden Pin
Why you need to know

The Golden Pin Design Award has some interesting stuff to show but stretches the point of design in asking for connections to Chinese culture.

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It's easy to lament Taiwan's woes in design and marketing; the country has a dearth of internationally recognized brands and uses the same skyscraper on every promotional brochure, but the government is working to pull the country out of this slump with a well-funded award promising access to the Sinosphere's growing middle class.

The Golden Pin Design Award is hosting a ceremony on Dec. 7 in tandem with an exhibition at Taipei's Songshan Cultural and Creative Park's Taiwan Design Museum that will run through Feb. 25.

The main selling point of this exhibition is variety; visitors can nod thoughtfully at designs for fonts and entire movie theaters in the same context. A cassette player offering a "fresh user experience" is displayed alongside a three-wheeled motorcycle, a menstrual cup and an external hard drive.

Variety aside, the competition's defining feature is that it is intended for the Chinese-speaking, or huaren, world, and is sold as offering "entrants an unprecedented opportunity to prove their prowess in the world's largest market." One can't help but think that the world's largest market is in fact global, but there you are.

Many of the designs went out of their way to try to create a connection to Chinese culture – one entry was an "Emergency safety device for vehicle detonation" that prevents tire blowouts using "the convex-concave shape of the great wall." A set of commemorative tokens from the Taipei Universiade and the now-extinguished torch itself are also on prominent display.

Of the 2000-plus entrants, 455 contestants were awarded a "Golden Pin Design Award 2017 Design Mark." Seventy-two finalists were selected and around 20 of those will win the 2017 Best Design award, which will be further narrowed to three best-of-the-best winners at the Dec. 7 ceremony.

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 government allocated the budget for the award, with a grand prize of NT$300,000 (US$10,000) for each of the three winning contestants.

Will this award raise Taiwan's status as a nexus of inspiring design? It's a long road, but there is some genuinely cool stuff at the exhibition. Tickets are NT$80, NT$60 concession.

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