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Tang Prize medal design contest winner announced

TAIPEI -- Renowned Japanese industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa took a US$500,000 top prize Thursday in a competition to design the medals for winners of the Tang Prize (唐獎) — an international academic award established by Taiwanese entrepreneur Samuel Yin (尹衍樑).

The top winner of the International Invitational Tang Prize Medal Design Competition was announced in Taipei that day at an award ceremony attended by all 10 of the finalists, all of whom are prominent names in the international design scene.

The nine other finalists will get US$50,000 each.

Fukasawa, a designer for Japanese retailer Muji and many other international brands, has been named by Bloomberg Businessweek as one of the world's most influential designers and has won several prestigious design awards, including the United States' IDEA gold award and Germany's iF gold award.

He is known for his simple and intuitive industrial designs. He believes a good design should blend naturally into a user's behavior, without the user having to think about it, a design philosophy he has coined “Without Thought.”

One of his most famous pieces is a wall-mounted CD player he designed for Muji in the 1990s, which became one of Japan's most iconic industrial designs of that time.

His winning design for the Tang Prize features medals in the shape of spiral curves. The descriptions of the four categories of the Tang Prize — sustainable development, biopharmaceutical science, sinology and rule of law — are carved on the back of the medals in circles along the spiral structure.

The other finalists are Japan's Kenji Ekuan, GK Design Group chairman and former president of the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design; Germany's Gunter Wermekes, a goldsmith and designer who designed the new Red Dot Trophy; Australian graphic designer Harry Williamson; and Kan Tai-keung, dubbed Hong Kong's “father of graphic design.”

Among them are also Taiwanese designer Chen Jun-liang, known for his use of Chinese calligraphy and Eastern images in his work; Dutch graphic designer Irma Boom, who specializes in book design; Italian jewelry designer Massimo Zucchi; British graphic and coin designer Matthew Dent; and British jewelry artist Lin Cheung, who designed the London 2012 Paralympics medals.

The Tang Prize Foundation and Taiwan Design Center jointly organized the International Invitational Tang Prize Medal Design Competition. They invited 25 international design organizations to nominate a total of 61 top designers from 15 countries to take part in the competition.

Ten designers were selected by an international panel of judges in February to enter the final round of the competition to design medals for the 1st Tang Prize.

For the final round, each designer presented a medal design for each of the four categories of the Tang Prize. The winning 6.6-centimeter-diameter medals will be made of pure gold and will be manufactured by Taiwan's Central Mint.

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Renowned Japanese industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa poses with the Tang Prize medals he designed after winning the International Invitational Tang Prize Medal Design Competition in Taipei, yesterday. (CNA)

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