NCKU Workshop Review & Preview

by New Idiom

Review | 2007 NCKU International Design Forum

No matter how much traveling I do, new places and people never cease to inspire me and my design work.  This summer I was offered the unique opportunity of joining my classmate Jordan Fischer and Professor TJ Mcleish in Taiwan for a week-long design forum hosted by the National Cheng Kung University (NCKU). The event included a nice mixture of intense design workshops, sight seeing and socializing.


One of the most interesting parts of my experience was the collaboration that happened during the 48 hour design competition. For part of the week, we were divided up into teams of 3 asked to design a product for one of two themes; “Green Attitude” or “Universal Approach”. As someone who had felt like she had gained quite a bit of team experience through her time at ID, I was surprised by the team challenges I faced during this project. The most obvious challenge was that of the language barrier. My team was composed of myself, an NCKU student who spoke basic English, and another who spoke no English at all. Since I spoke (and speak) no Mandarin, the time pressure led our collaboration to take on some very non-traditional forms. Sometimes we would communicate through drawings and other times we would have discussions in which the one bilingual student would attempt to translate for the three of us. Other teams in the same predicament were seen using pocket electronic translators or translation websites they found on nearby computers. I guess we all found ourselves seeking quick and creative ways to communicate as well as design. Based on most of the final projects I saw, I have to say I was impressed by the amount of success achieved in such a short time (of course sacrificing sleep for a night or two always helps).

The other most memorable part of the week was attending the annual Young Designers’ Exhibition (YODEX) in Taipei. Here, I was able to walk through hundreds of booths containing students’ school work, meet and talk with many of the designers and even purchase (quite a few) unique projects along the way. It was incredibly inspiring to see how Taiwanese students think about design; they are extremely visual in their approach. So visual in fact that I found myself taking something around 300 photos during few hours I was there.

I feel very lucky to have been apart of this transformational experience. I continue to be in touch with students from the event, and even some designers that I met at YODEX. In fact, one of them just contacted me via msn messenger! This was yet another reminder that the world is so small, and yet as design students there is still so much we have not yet discovered about our field and how it differs from country to country and region to region.

- Alexis Baum

Preview | NCKU Workshop @ ID

Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday of next week there will be a delegation of students and professors from NCKU here at ID to share information about their school and Taiwanese design, as well as learn more about ID, the ID community and Chicago.

From 10AM to 4PM each day, the goals of the workshop are to “share and communicate aspects of our institutions, approaches to design, and to engage in a cross-cultural design experience”.  ID and NCKU faculty will be making short presentations, and students from both schools will be sharing past projects, school or otherwise.

Participants will work in mixed teams on a project entitled “Design for Sister Green Cities”, which will entail creating “a design for Chicago and Taipei, as sister cities, that is constructed/installed in some aspect of the public space, that provides ways for residents to become aware of and engage in activities that decrease waste & energy consumption.”

On Wednesday, teams will present their research, insights and designs to the ID community.  The event promises to be a valuable lesson in cross-cultural collaboration and a wonderful opportunity to work on a project with quick turnaround.