The city promotion project of the World Design Capital（世界設計之都）will embark in Taipei in 2016. 100 Social Design Proposals（海選100個社會設計提案）is a competition which aims to motivate the energy of designing and to strengthen the social consciousness. Social design is a new concept which most people know little about. It is a new possible way to help solve many problems in the society and to make our living environment more convenient; moreover, it can also make the world a friendlier place.
Social Design: The Merge of Professions
Social design is a term to describe the idea that contributes to improving the well-being of the society with creative designs. Sociology gives account of what people may face in every stage of their lives. Due to the development of the society, people may encounter inconveniences or some living situations which need to be taken cared of or improved in every period or even generations. When we face such problems, government or institutions are often the ones taking action. However, in recent years, more and more non-governmental organizations have been devoting themselves in solving these problems, putting in lots of efforts to make the society a better place.
“Social designs could not appear without the help of any foundation.” Yu Feng（馮宇）, a judge from the 100 social design proposals, said. Although social design sounds far away from our lives and we might not even know what it is, it actually surrounds us. For example, architects plan and design houses, and solve residential problems in the design of the configuration of buildings. Not only the architects do something good to the society, the designers also make some contributions, too. Designers observe and mark the defects of the social environment, then they come up with plans for public good. As more and more architects and designers work in the field of social design, it has gradually become a trend with works of design displayed in exhibitions and helps the society in real life.
First Prize Winner: Door Plate Design
As a warm-up for the upcoming celebration – World Design Capital 2016, Department of Cultural Affairs, Taipei City Government held the “Social Design Project”(社會設計提案) competition, encouraging the public to join the event. Among 132 entries, only one of them won the first prize as well as NT$100,000–“House Number Renewal Project”（門牌更新計畫報告）.
Hong-rui, Lin（林宏叡）, Yi-hua, Xu（徐毅驊）, and He-qian, Chen（陳和謙）, creators of “House Number Renewal Project” are the juniors from the Department of Communication Design（實踐大學媒體傳達設計系）in Shih Chien University. Inspired by Japan’s house number replacement, Lin, Xu, and Chen have found that there are some problems in the current design of house numbering system in Taiwan. For instance, the fonts between old and new door plates are not consistent with each other, leaving it disorderly; some of the door plates lack English translation, which is problematic to foreign visitors. “To make our house number neater and easier to read, we suggest changing the original typeface into “San Francisco” font instead, which is clearer and much more sophisticated than before,” Lin said. Lin also points out that house number should be combined with new technology– the AR (Augmented Reality) code (擴增實境科技), which will increase the interaction between people and their door plate “In this way, people can get information from their neighbors, community association, or even advertisement by scanning the AR code through smart phones. We believe that the combination will not only create convenience for people, but decrease the amount of flyers, making the environment clean.” Lin explained.
Despite being the winner of the Social Design Project competition, Lin, Xu, and Chen have been criticized that their work are overdesigned. In response, according to Lin, his teammates and he will bear the comment in mind and study even harder to improve their skills and creative thinking. “Hopefully, one day we could put our proposal into practice and become prominent social designers.” said Lin.
Different Environment, One Goal: Demonstrate of Value
Social design is not only a design that facilitates and serves the public, but also a medium to show what the society is lacking of. What’s more, it creates new values.
Hsuan-tzu Liu（劉軒慈）, who graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven（埃因霍芬設計學院）, believes that social design is going to bring Taiwan a brighter future. The studying experience in the Netherlands has changed Liu’s original ideas. “It opened my horizon towards the idea of design. Transforming abstract thoughts into a specific design is really a challenge. Netherlands’ social designs show the perfect matching between humanity and the advanced technology. In addition, it gives the users a new experience. Instead of solving the social problems, social designs show us the true essence of our society, life and value. It breaks the commonsensical views which people consider normal or abnormal, and creates new values.” Compared to Taiwan’s social design, Liu thinks that the social design she has seen in the Netherlands has a wider definition and application than that in Taiwan. “Taiwan’s social design still simply provides service for the public. In the Netherlands, it serves for some specific organizations, such as prisons, hospitals and so on. I hope that Aesthetic education can be promoted, enhancing people’s taste and aesthetic appreciation,” Liu said.
Japan is also a great force in design. Referring to the convenient social design in common life, Chinese student Meng-yuan Gu（谷夢園）, who has been studying in Japan for about two years, praises the Japanese transportation system. “The great design saves my time,” Gu said. Although there are many different train and railway lines in stations, the well-marked indicators and different color lines help passengers find the train quickly.
Though different environment causes diverse designs, the values and the reflections which social design brings are rather precious, always there in our daily lives.