Accepted paper:

Rediscovering Taiwanese bamboo

Authors:

Chih-I Lai (University College London)
Michael Rowlands (University College, London)

Paper short abstract:

Bamboo, a traditional material which has recently gained increasing global popularity worldwide, is more than being merely a green material but it also has added cultural material specificity for Taiwanese designers and craft makers. This paper aims to discuses how people's identity is built and creativity is elaborated within this material.

Paper long abstract:

Bamboo, a traditional material which has recently gained increasing global popularity worldwide, has the potential to contribute to innovative environmentally-friendly designs. However, more than being merely a green material, bamboo has added cultural material specificity for Taiwanese designers and craft makers. In the Taiwanese vernacular material culture, bamboo is widely used to assemble almost everything from kitchen utensils to dwellings. Therefore, when the National Taiwan Craft Research Institute and the Taiwan Design Center created the 'Yii collection', with the aim of presenting authentic Taiwanese design, bamboo was felt to perfectly embody this 'Taiwanese-ness'. For the past four years, several craft makers and designers were selected to work together in order to bring out new Taiwanese designs which could then be showcased at the Maison & Object and Salone internazionale del Mobile exhibitions in Paris and Milan, respectively. These collaborations between the people drafting on the desks and those working manually in the workplaces influence each other. Through these interactions the craft makers gain broader perspectives and an awareness of the global market; and designers develop a knowledge of traditional skills and localness through the creating process. This paper will discuss how the Yii Collection provides a point around which to discuss the transformation, the impacts, and the conflicts of tradition, localness, vernacular designs, nostalgic memories, and the innovative elements which are all bound up within this material.

panel P26
Anthropology in the material world