With more extreme weather across the region and a widening gap between the rich and the poor, the projects addressing key social issues to improve the quality of life for the underprivileged and to assist others in times of crisis are worth our attention and support. A collaboration between Taiwan’s premier design award, the Golden Pin Design Award, and World Design Capital Taipei 2016, has resulted in the selection of four innovative social design projects as Finalists in a new Special Annual Award this past week. Projects addressing key social issues including improving living conditions for disaster victims, applying design thinking to social problems, and recycling waste materials are considered during the selection process. Judging for the award took place in early October at the National Taiwan University Sports Center in Taipei, where panel of nine local and international design industry specialists, also judges for the Golden Pin Design Award 2015, carefully reviewed the 15 projects and products that made it through Primary and Secondary Selection. The Special Annual Award for Social Design of the Golden Pin Design Award 2015 recognizes outstanding social design for Taipei City, and is open to international designers and companies whose products and projects relate to Taipei City in some way. The award seeks to promote the use of design to solve social problems or challenges and create a more livable city. Only entries that make clever use of the city’s most limited resources and answer the needs of 90 percent of citizens will be considered as potential winners. "5% Design Action" is a social innovation platform initiated by dreamvok in Taiwan in the spring of 2013. That “social innovation relies not so much on design ideas as it does on practical design action” is the principle behind the formation of the platform. Acting as an organizational body, 5% Design Action asks designers and professionals from a range of fields to pitch in just 5% of their free time to work with NGOs, NPOs, and public/private organizations–these professionals “donate” their expertise to the hunt for new solutions for societal challenges. (Check here) To date, more than 3,500 designers and multi-disciplinary professionals have joined 5% Design Action projects that assist organizations in the education, health, environmental, and economic sectors. 5% Design Action worked with health services in Taiwan to redevelop cancer screening processes (Image courtesy of the Taiwan Design Center) The development of the Jing Si Multi-Purpose Folding Bed, developed in Taiwan by Jing Si Publications and Master Cheng Yen, was inspired by a photograph, taken in the aftermath of a devastating flood in Pakistan in 2010, of a ten-day-old baby girl sitting on the cold, wet, hard floor of a makeshift tent. After three years of research and development work, the 13.5 kilogram Jing Si Multi-Purpose Folding Bed was ready for action. Because of its light weight and fast-folding ability (it unfolds in just 10 seconds), the bed is easy to carry and store. It can support a maximum weight of 150 kilograms, and can be folded into multiple shapes to comfortably serve as both a bed and sitting area. The Jing Si Multi-Purpose Folding Bed has been successfully deployed at disaster sites, evacuation centers, and emergency medical stations and hospitals. Jing Si Multi-Purpose Folding Bed, developed in Taiwan by Jing Si Publications (Image courtesy of the Taiwan Design Center) Taiwan-based CHIC DESIGN is the firm behind MOXOR / “Up-cycled Fashion” Recycled Motorcycle Cushion Design. In 2005, the designers state, Taiwan had the most motorcycles and scooters per capita of any country in the world, and since that date, demand has only increased. The vinyl seats of a scooter deteriorate quickly and need to be replaced often; the resulting waste puts pressure on the environment. To address this issue, MOXOR takes recycles the seats into fashionable, hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind design products, from wallets and purses to stools and chairs. All their products feature the unique “X” pattern typical of the vinyl used for scooter seats–inspiration for the name of the brand, MOXOR. “People can only live safely and soundly when the mountains are full of life,” says DA.AI Technology Co., Ltd, the manufacturers and designers of the Polar Animals Blanket Set. “As the polar glaciers gradually melt and disappear, polar bears won’t be the only animals on Earth unable to find a save habitat–the rising sea levels will wreak havoc around the world.” Through the Polar Animals Blanket Set, DA.AI Technology seeks to promote the concept of environmental protection, respect for the Earth, and awareness of endangered polar animals. The product is made from 100% recycled polyester yarn that is not dyed–the color of the material reflects the original color of the PET bottles. Compared with the production of virgin polyester, recycled polyester production methods save energy and result in lower carbon emissions. Polar Animals Blanket Set by DA.AI Technology Co. (Image courtesy of the Taiwan Design Center) Of the four Finalist products and projects, only one will be selected as the best and will be announced in March, 2016.