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The Tiger Penis Project, which suggests using synthetic biology to reduce the number of animals being killed to make traditional Chinese medicines, has been awarded the annual prize for the best project by a graduating Master’s student.

Ku’s speculative design project combines western technology with traditional Chinese medicine to suggest new hybrid organisms.

“This new hybrid medicine prevents the further destruction of both animals and traditional cultures, and provides more possibilities for the coexistence of human society and the natural environment,” explained Ku.

The jury for the Gijs Bakker Award, named after the Dutch designer and founder of the DAE Masters programme, described Ku’s work as “incredibly rich and layered”.

“Kuang-yi ‘s Tiger Penis Project clearly sets out the role of the designer,” said the jury, which included Corien Pompe, Global Lead of Philips’ Trend Lab, Eva Rookler, design coordinator for the Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie, and René Boer, curator/critic/researcher at Non-fiction Architecture.

“It illustrates the designer’s position as a bridge between various disciplines – [in this case] traditional Chinese medicine versus biotechnology and nature conservation versus culture. Kuang-Yi has created more or less a new culture with his project, which safeguards old traditions from oblivion by linking them with innovative technological developments.”

Corien Pompe hands over award and flowers to Kuang-Yi Ku. Picture by Angeline Swinkels.

Ku, who was born and raised in Taipei, Taiwan, trained as a dentist before moving to The Netherlands to study Social Design at DAE. His previous projects include dental prosthetics designed to enhance the sensation of oral sex.

The winner of the Gijs Bakker Award was announced during the Academy’s opening ceremony on 4 September to mark the start of the new academic year, alongside the Rene Smeets and Melkweg Awards for the best Bachelor’s graduate projects and the inagural Rotterdam New Talent Award. Ku will receive a prize of €2000 and a cup designed by DAE graduate Olivier van Herpt.

The seven nominees for the prize were selected from the four Master’s courses at DAE: Social Design, Contextual Design, Information Design and Design Curating and Writing (DC&W).

DC&W graduate Yasmin Tri Aryani was selected for a special commendation by the jury for her final project Mapping The Way Home, a curatorial project that explores ideas of home in Indonesia, a country that is home to multiple ethnic groups, by examining the architecture of its border posts.

“Yasmin's research into the architecture of Indonesian border posts files contemporary architecture and places it with a refined critical eye in a post-colonial context,” said the jury. “It makes connections between culture, architecture, ethnic values and norms and gives them new insights.”

The other nominees were Minji Choi, Mar Ginot Blanco, Karin Fischnaller, Amandine David and Anna Aagaard Jensen.

“All have proven able to boil down large and universal subjects by delivering a personal approach to the research theme,” said the jury.

Last year’s winner was DC&W graduate Nadine Botha, for her curatorial project The Politics Of Shit, which investigated the role of the portable flush toilet in relation to the rampant inequality of Cape Town, South Africa. Botha is currently an assistant curator for the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial.


Published: 13-Sep-2018 15:24
  • Kuang-Yi Ku’s Tiger Penis Project winner of Gijs Bakker award 2018

    Gijs Bakker Award 2018. Image by Angeline Swinkels

  • Kuang-Yi Ku’s Tiger Penis Project winner of Gijs Bakker award 2018

    Kuang-Yi Ku, Winner of Gijs Bakker Award 2018. Picture by Angeline Swinkels.