“We would love to invite you to attend the World Design Capital Taipei 2016 International Design Gala”.
So read the invitation I received a couple of weeks back to the opening gala of the World Design Capital Taipei 2016.
It’s a huge coup for the city, as let alone it will bring focus to Taipei’s continuing efforts to encourage innovative and responsive design, but also shine light internationally as a city as a whole. The title will help establish Taipei as a city known for valuing the importance of good design not with mere words but also with tangible actions.
I must say I was rather taken aback by the invitation- I’d never been invited to an event of that caliber before, let alone because of my blog here. Of course, I accepted the invitation with an unsubtle eagerness limited only to those who don’t experience such events on the regular. It’s not every night I get invited to be wined and dined amongst over 500 design and business luminaries from around the world!
When the night came, I click-clicked my way through the relentless rain to the intimidatingly grand Mandarin Orient Hotel. It felt surreal to be welcomed into such regal quarters- a far stray from my usual haunts! So I made sure to relish the rare chance to suspend reality for just a night.
Once inside, I signed in as “media” (a very bizarre experience in itself!), and was ushered inside to the ball room. As soon as I set foot inside, my eyes widened like a deer caught in headlights. I couldn’t help but feel taken aback by the fanciness of it all- the lights, the sheer size of the room, the splendid decorations, the well dressed men and women pouring in.
With not enough space on the table with the other foreign media, I was assigned to sit at the local media table. One of my table companions questioned rather forwardly what exactly I was doing at their table. It’s moments like that which I falter- I stumbled out a meek response about being a blogger, which was met by an unmistakable look of judgment from her. It put a bad taste in my mouth, but fortunately, I was soon distracted after I befriended a lovely budding journalist sitting next to me.
After everyone slowly settled into their seats, the lights dimmed and the night began. To start, there were speeches to officially launch all the exciting design initiatives planned for the year. The crowd was roused up by the Mayor of Taipei, Ko Wen-Je, who joked about finishing his speech quickly so we could all eat- I like the way he thinks!
Then the all important design awards were presented. Warka Water, a unique water catchment system by Italian design studio Architecture and Vision was awarded the coveted World Design Impact Prize (WDIP) 2015-2016. The Special Award for Social Design of the Golden Pin Design Award 2015 was awarded to 5% Design Action, a Taiwan-based think tank composed of hundreds of design professionals that use 5% of their time to tackle social issues.
We then listened to a musical performance and bit into our very purple-themed course meal. It was a real treat to be so pampered- a life I could certainly get used to!
And in case anyone is interested, I’ll talk a bit about my dress. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it here, but I absolutely love dressing up. So when we were asked to dress formal, I was excited by rare chance to dress to the 9’s. The only problem was I didn’t have anything remotely appropriate. In the days before the event I racked countless stores to no avail. (Taipei Life Pro Tip: Trying to find formal wear on a budget here will inevitably riddled by massive frustration).
Just when I thought hope was lost, I went to a second hand store I’d been to previously in Dongmen. I didn’t have high hopes as I’d never found anything good there before. But as luck would have it, on my way out, a long, black dress caught my attention- a scene akin to two lovers locking eyes in a questionable Hollywood romcom.
It was a stunning silk floor-length dress from the Italian designer label, Blumarine. I scurried for the price- NT$3000 (AU$120). Although this was a lot more reasonable than most of the dresses I’d come across (and a steal for a designer dress), it was still over my budget. I asked for a discount and surprisingly the shopkeeper compromised on $2500 (AU$100). An AU$3000+ dress for AU$100. I love a bargain! Finally, I had a dress fitting of the night.
And what a truly fantastic night it was. I’m so grateful to ddg and WDC Taipei for inviting me. Thank you, I had an absolute ball! It was such a lovely opportunity to meet so many creative people, not least including fellow Taipei bloggers and other inspiring locals and expats in creative industries!
I’m now looking forward to attending the various design events being held around the city, and I hope you too will go and check out a couple!
To end, I should give my congrats to my adopted home, Taipei, on this big scoop! What an incredible city you are. Can’t wait to see what you have in store for us.