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Taiwanese designs touted by Red Dot chief in Germany

TAIPEI -- Taiwanese designs have been winning increasing accolades on the international design scene and can now add the head of Germany's prestigious Red Dot Design Award to its list of advocates.

Taiwan's design ability has improved greatly over the past five to six years and it is now a world leader, said Peter Zec, initiator and chief executive officer of Red Dot, one of the world's largest design competitions.

In 2013, for example, 66 Taiwan-designed products won awards in Red Dot's product design contest, Zec said recently, describing this as a "strong statement" of the country's leading role in design.

"I would say it's among the top 10 in the world," he told CNA in a telephone interview.

Zec said he was looking at two tablet and laptop accessories made by the Taiwanese-German brand Just Mobile on his desk.

"I love this company. What they do is fantastic ... very simple things but very sophisticated," he said. "It is a perfect example of how a small company with bright ideas and smart solutions can compete worldwide."

Zec said he believes that Taiwan's strong university design programs and faculties and its flourishing small-and medium-sized companies have contributed to make Taiwan one of the leading nations in design.

The most creative designs often come from small- and medium-sized companies because decision-making processes are shorter in these companies, designers are closer to company owners and are often given more freedom to develop their creativity, Zec said.

This is also Taiwan's advantage when competing in international design contests with South Korea, known for its big conglomerates, the CEO added.

In addition to industrial design, Zec also praised Taiwan's graphic and interior design, pointing out that Taipei's Red Dot Design Museum, which opened in August last year, was designed by renowned Taiwanese interior designer Yao Cheng-chung.

Meanwhile, Zec said the best way to boost a country's innovative power is through solid education and by building a freer society that encourages young people to be creative.

"Designers are dreamers. They must have the freedom to realize their dreams," Zec said. "If society is too strong and won't allow young people to develop, then it is very hard to develop good design."

He mentioned California as an example, saying that the U.S. state is one of the most creative places in the world because the culture there encourages people to enjoy life and believe that nothing is impossible.

But Zec, a frequent visitor to Taiwan, said he has felt a change in the atmosphere in Taiwan over the past two decades.

While Taipei was a "very boring place" during his first visit in 1992, the CEO said the city is now filled with fantastic cafes, restaurants and nightclubs.

"(Now) it is really one of the most exciting cities in Asia," he said, adding that the atmosphere now is the right one for nourishing creativity.

And in fact, Taipei has been designated the 2016 World Design Capital, which Zec said will be a great chance for Taipei to connect with the world and make its designs more relevant to the people.

"There are so many opportunities to share good quality designs with a broader audience," he said.

He advised the government to launch more projects that can bring together companies, industry representatives, young designers and the general public to improve city infrastructure and facilities such as parks and children's playgrounds.

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