Driving the integration of design and innovation

By Chang Chi-Yi


DESIGN was initially about merchandise and services. The target was to elevate the sense of beauty and functionality, with the goal of sales and economic output.

However, the target for design has recently extended to the spatial fabric that covers the urban areas, the quality of public services, the platform for social dialogue, and the mechanism of welfare guarantee, expanding from the previous commercial-oriented aesthetics to various intrinsic values ​​regarding the sustainability of society and life.

As the scope of design expands, cross-domain integration has become increasingly crucial. The cutting-edge industrial design products involve expertise in various fields from mobile communications, motors, energy storage, to material science.

Every cross-domain within design needs to overcome the barriers of the existing social division of labour and systemic inertia. And the key to such integration, or whether or not good designs are successfully cultivated, relies not only on the designer’s knowledge and skills, but also on the systematic environment of design ecology.


Demonstrating Taiwan’s Capacity for Innovation via the Interdisciplinary Fusion of Design, TDRI is Awarded the 4th Presidential Innovation Award


So, how do we utilise systematic space to encourage cross-domain integration? Through education and career mobility, of course.

Education and the career path of design professionals are critical to the development of a cross-domain vision. Currently, there are over 500 design-related programs in Taiwan with over 17,000 graduates each year.

However, many fresh graduates find that what they’ve learned isn’t enough for the new design trend of being professional and cross-domain.

Design education should enhance in the curriculum structure the importance of fundamental design history and design philosophy, and arrange better flexibility and more resources in cross-domain elective courses to cultivate wide-and-deep T-shaped design talents.

As a characteristic of design education is that practical skills must be learned through action, cross-domain collaboration courses encourage students to work together in finding solutions through cross-domain cooperation between the industry, government, and academia.

Since there is still room for continuous expertise development, the mechanism of the design industry should be improved – projects from the public sector should leave more space for young designers, while senior designers should develop a better stage.

While choosing designers carefully, we must generate fluidity and mobility in our methods instead of letting them all compete in the same place. We must push those who have had the opportunity to try another experimental field.

Another institutional force that drives cross-domain integration of design is the introduction of design into the public sector promoted by specific governmental institutions.

Companies’ investment in design have long been limited by their specialised product lines.

Thus, large-scale and cross-domain design projects seldom occur. Therefore, the Government must take lead in driving cross-domain integration.

In addition to large-scale exhibitions, various public services by the government has opened deeper influence for design through effective cross-bureau, cross-domain communications, and integration.

Only with mobility can we go beyond borders and see the vision of integration. – Jan 14, 2021


Chang Chi-Yi is the president of Taiwan Design Research Institute

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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