HDG's New Designer Awards: Furniture Design Competition Highlights

Report by Greg Niederhaus, Cheng Ching-wen

For thirty years, the Young Designers Exhibition (YODEX) has provided a platform for emerging designers to show their creativity, interact, observe and explore the outstanding design talent of their community. The "HDG New Designer Awards" took place again this year, promoting a spirit of cultural heritage in furniture and arts as applied through carpentry.

This year's "HDG New Designer Awards" accepted a total of 54 entries. The primary screening resulted in thirty two nominations which were further deduced by a panel of professional judges to seventeen contenders. The 17 pieces were once again judged onsite (at the Young Designer Exhibition) and then the final winners emerged. Criteria of assessment were categorized into four areas: Primarily was design, gauged at 40% importance, be it innovation and re-interpretation of pre-existing styles or the incorporation of new materials. Bearing 25% significance was manufacturability; meaning feasibility of production, distribution and marketing. Marketability carried an emphasis of 20%; whether the product was designed to meet the needs of major consumer markets. Finally came workmanship at 15%, with the focus on structure and wood finish.

Each of the contenders had a chance to explain the source of their inspiration. Some designs were derived from dreams; some endeavored to represent the cultural heritage of Taiwan; others reflected current trends in society. As long as wood was incorporated in the furniture and its applicability to life realistic or meaningful, it was considered to carry a spirit of "cultural heritage in furniture and arts as applied through carpentry", so emphasized at HDG.

**Silver medal - The Zipper This amazingly creative piece is an ingenious combination of simple materials and fine workmanship. With today's emphasis on maximizing the use of small spaces, "The Zipper" demonstrates both creative and practical features. One wouldn't have thought that a zipper could be used to join wood. The unexpected effect is colorful, eye-catching, practical and attractive.

**Bronze Medal - Dovetail Bench Inspired by traditional Chinese furniture, the Dovetail Bench is a symbol of "honor and wealth". It looks like just a wooden bench, but the look of this excellent craftsmanship is evidence of Taiwan's rich traditional imagery without losing traditional fashion. Very interesting work.

**Special first place award - The Righteous Stool This furniture is made of the popular material, Moso Bamboo, which has been widely used to make furniture in Taiwan. Bamboo is the perfect material to emulate the little round stools used island wide in Taiwan's "snack culture". It is tough and elastic, and it would be a shame not to fully exhibit this culturally rich resource.

**Special second place award - Bag Bench This furniture is designed for use in public transportation. The designers noticed growing masses of commuters waiting to catch the High Speed Rail and decided to address the need for comfortable waiting platform benches. Although the flow of grain may be enhanced, this piece has strong ergonomics and excellent aesthetics.

**Special third place award - Spring Rain Xylophone With an emphasis on human-furniture interaction, this is a highly artistic piece that can be played like a xylophone. Various wood tiles of differing densities resonate music when struck.

**Special fourth place award - Crisscross Chair Constructed of rugged teak wood, this chair was painstakingly joined with staggered slats to enrich its lines with shadow. Not only does this design enrich the presence of the chair, the added air flow adds greatly to its functionality. Again this year, judges abstained from awarding the gold medal to one particular designer. The contending pieces offered such broad uniqueness that it simply made it too difficult to choose the best one. Perhaps this withholding of the gold medal will serve to impassion participants, and stimulate even more creative energy for next year's event.
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