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Charlie Evans: Designer in Residence at Taipei World Design Capital

NTW from The Yes Bureau on Vimeo.

Work by Charlie Evans

16 August 2016
by Kendall Robbins

ABOUT TAIPEI WORLD DESIGN CAPITAL 2016

“Adaptive City – Design in Motion” is Taipei City’s core appeal in hosting World Design Capital 2016. The City looks at how we apply innovative “design thinking” to overcome the constraints that limited resources place on the city’s development, to pursue continual renewal and change in the urban governance, to create happiness in the lives of its citizens, to bring citizens a better quality of life in a liveable city, and to create a forward-looking city with design vision? These are the goals and directions that Taipei City is constantly thinking about and seeking progress toward.

Within the WDC theme of “Adaptive City – Design in Motion,” the development issues that Taipei faces today can be distilled into four strands: “Life Quality and Health,” “Ecological Sustainability,” “Urban Regeneration” and “Smart Living.” As well as inviting passionate design professionals to take part in policymaking discussions, the city government is also putting on a series of courses in design thinking for city officials, in the hope that by embracing “social design” thinking, we can bring an innovative spirit to urban governance.

Under the Taipei World Design Capital, the City has been able to offer a series design residencies for international practitioners in Taipei exploring themes around social design. Working with the British Council, Taipei World Design Capital has partnered with Goldsmiths Design Department in London

DESIGN AT GOLDSMITHS

Goldsmiths, University of London, is proud of its reputation for innovative and challenging thinking across its wide range of disciplines. One of its major strengths is its ‘post-disciplinary’ ethos - the way in which specialisms interrelate to offer new perspectives and insights. The Department holds a unique position in UK education, offering a single post-disciplinary undergraduate programme, the BA (Hons) Design. The programme has an international reputation for excellence; in 2015 it was named UK’s number 1 Design programme by the Guardian.

The Department of Design is dynamic, contemporarily engaged and forward thinking. Design flourishes at Goldsmiths; the College’s interdisciplinary intellectual climate affords us the unique opportunity to draw upon a wealth of critical, theoretical and creative perspectives, which in turn shape the distinct – and often radical – design practices, educational programmes and research that we pursue in the Department. 

Design has a huge influence on the way we live. In an increasingly uncertain world – facing, for instance, climate change, globalised consumerism and social fragmentation – designers need to think deeply, critically and creatively about their activities than ever before. Appreciating this, Goldsmiths have developed contemporarily engaged and future-sensitive academic programmes that cultivate versatile, pioneering graduates, critically aware of their responsibilities to the environment and of the ethical dimension of their activities in influencing social processes and cultural formation.

GOLDSMITHS AT WDC, TAIPEI

The residency programme at the Taipei World Design Capital gives the opportunity for Goldsmiths to broaden its international design network. As a department they seek to challenge the role and future of design practice, looking for new opportunities in a changing global landscape. They see design as a contextually sensitive, culturally located practice, therefore placing their alumni into a new city and culture it will allow for insights and possibilities.

Using a variety of methods and processes Goldsmiths see design practice as a mode of social and cultural inquiry and invention. Their research strategy looks to challenge the role of research within the university sector, where teaching and research is conducted at all levels of higher education, creating a community of practice pushing the boundaries of the discipline.

Goldsmiths Design Alumni, Charlie Evans, will be engaged in practice research that links to broader research programmes happening within the department with their faculty. The project will open up the opportunity for the department to communicate and disseminate its approach to design to the Taiwanese design community.

ABOUT CHARLIE EVANS

Charlie Evans is a designer and educator. His research is currently focused on gender and performance and where they intersect at a socio-economic-political level.

He employs a materially driven practice; producing objects, architecture and performance to drive investigation and knowledge production. Whilst traditional pieces of design do emerge through this practice, his outcomes are best described as interactions / events / theories / speculations / critique.

Charlie is a Technical Tutor in the Design department at Goldsmiths. He is the head of The Yes Bureau, a small design studio based in South London.

CHARLIE EVANS ON WRESTLING:

Yosef Kafka is (training to become) a professional wrestler.

Yosef Kafka is a fiction, a construct, a designed object.

Yosef Kafka is the work of Charlie Evans.

Yosef Kafka is performed by Charlie Evans.

Charlie Evans is performed by Charlie Evans.

Charlie Evans is the work of Charlie Evans.

Charlie Evans is a fiction, a construct, a designed object.

Charlie Evans is (training to become) a professional wrestler.

"Wrestling isn't real" has become shorthand for "Professional wrestling is an improvised theatrical performance between two or more performers who depict a stylised form of combat, with a pre-determined winner emerging."

I am currently engaged in an auto-theoretical investigation into British professional wrestling - physically training my body, learning the components of performing and developing my wrestler persona, Yosef Kafka. My body becomes a designed object, a material investigation to accompany the additional associated material aspects of costume, music and merchandise. A parallel set of texts, workshops and documented discourses emerge through this.

Within the context of my research, wrestling becomes a semi-fictional architectural space that employs a set of critical design tools to amplify and magnify the performative aspects of gender. By immersing myself in this landscape, I am able to engage in the (re)construction of gender at a pop-cultural level.

BODY BUILDINGS AT TAIPEI WORLD DESIGN CAPITAL

By training as a professional wrestler, I begin to develop a specialist knowledge of my body through the rituals and practices unique to the discipline. These exercises become a form of design, reimagining the future capacity of my body and redefining it as an architectural space: a constructed, designed object within which I live.

I will be using my time in Taipei to explore how different professions and areas of expertise develop and build their own understanding of the body; specifically looking for what we might consider design decisions, the measures taken to inform its performance.

To inform this investigation, I will be observing and participating in a number of physical practices ranging from Shuai Jiao Bauding (Chinese Wrestling) to training with Taipei’s Fire departments; visiting the numerous sports centers in the city to understand how sports are communicated architecturally; and towards the end of the residency, I will be conducting a number of workshops asking participants to articulate their relationship with their body through drawing.

You can follow Charlie's journey in Taipei on the World Deisgn Capital's Designers in Residence Facebook Diary.