People are drawn to Taiwan for various reasons—this comes as no surprise, considering the opportunities, pleasant people, gorgeous scenery, and well-developed design and manufacturing industries.

Emre Özsöz is one such person, an industrial designer for international waterparks giant Polin Waterparks. Özsöz is an under-30 Turkish protegé hoping the island holds the key to bringing his bicycle dreams to life.

“My first visit to Taiwan was with HORSY’s award winning in 2016. What I observed during the visit are: A very developed country and people who are very warm and helpful. These are obviously very important points. The second visit to Taiwan was in March 2017, with the PEP award. This time the feeling of departure felt much different; the country wasn’t like a stranger anymore, it made me feel like I was living there.”

Özsöz has won numerous national and international design competitions before: the 21st International Bicycle Design Competition, 20th International Bicycle Design Competition and two entries in the 2nd National HVAC Design Competition.

Additionally, the bicycle industry in Taiwan is well-developed and claims a significant portion of the world market. In the 1970’s the island was known as the Bicycle Kingdom, after deals with industry juggernauts like Schwinn boosted exports significantly, outpacing Japanese production in the 80’s. Despite competition from China in the early 90’s, the industry restructured itself, letting the low-end market go to the Chinese and focusing on mid and high-end products. Most factories are clustered around Taichung, with 77% of all production occurring in that area.

“So, Taiwan has something important and valuable to me. I would like to be in the bicycle industry in Taiwan. I would like to fulfill my future plans in this country due to these experiences,” Özsöz says.  

He originally entered the Golden Pin Concept Design Award due to its prestige and importance, citing its ability to bring value to his designs. When his design was picked for inclusion in the pre-judging press release, he was even more delighted.

The concepts entered this time are PEP, a bicycle for blind Paralympics and HORSY, a foldable bicycle for crowded metropolitan areas, such as his current location in Istanbul.

Özsöz originally conceived of PEP when he was watching the Paralympics on television. “It is an emotional design. It is the state of the struggle and the majesty and the achievement of reaching the goal. The innovative structure of PEP was designed to help two disabled competitors control a single bike and help each other reach their destination with power.“

The tandem bicycle is designed for a stoker in the back — the paralympic, who provides the power — and a pilot in front, whose purpose is to steer. It was designed and submitted to the 21st International Bicycle Design Competition, where it won an Excellence award. “The colors “dark blue” and “red” symbolize power, integrity and energy. These are the main features that make up PEP.” says the proud designer.

HORSY is a bit different.  “[The] product is a solution that I designed in a short period of time. It was important to be a product that could be used comfortably in the crowd.” says Özsöz. The bicycle was designed to be as minimal and as simple as possible. When it is folded, it is almost a third the dimensions from when it is in use. It takes up very little space on public transportation. At the same time, HORSY has a semi electrical system which aims to reduce the user’s energy. When the rider is cycling, the battery charges itself. HORSY won the Merit award at the 20th International Bicycle Design Competition.

When asked how his designs correspond to the concept theme for this year’s Golden Pin competition, “In craziness lies genius,” the designer responded, “Both of my designs have points of view that aim at different meanings of craziness. For example, HORSY is designed with the aim of providing a smooth and fast transportation in the chaotic structure of crowded cities. PEP is a completely different product. Think about it; its users don’t recognize any obstacles. There are only one focal point, which is to achieve.”

Like any passionate designer, he is hoping his designs can be realized. He is hoping to find a producer to sponsor the process and bring these designs to life, and he remains optimistic. “Maybe this interview will open new doors,” he says. “Who knows?”

The Golden Pin Concept Design Award has a rigorous judging process. After entries are submitted there are three rounds of judging by three different sets of jury consisted of industry leaders. The Best of Golden Pin Concept Design Awards are given to three recipients. The preliminary jury for this year’s concept awards include Walter Wang, Chief Designer at Gogoro; Gina Hsu, Design Director at Dong Hai Hospital Design Studio; and Gan Ke Ping, Design Director at SeeDesign.

Additionally, this year the Golden Pin Concept Design Award is offering two new services for those who pass Secondary Selection. First is the “Dream Project” program — an initiative that helps to partner talented designers with leading manufacturers in Taiwan. And secondly, to encourage the development of excellent design work, entrants who pass the Secondary Selection will have the opportunity to attend an exclusive presentation training course that helps them to enhance their communication skills and refine the quality of the presentation and video that are required at the Final Selection stage of the competition.

It’s easy to see Özsöz’s drive and passion. “Design is in the center of my life,” he said during our interview. “I would love to go on till the end. In my future plans, I want to establish a self-contained industrial design firm abroad. But first, it is very important to have experiences outside of Turkey. I believe that having such a journey will expose me to different experiences. I even have my plans to live in Taiwan; I hope I can catch this opportunity.”

(Feature photo of Emre Özsöz, provided by Özsöz)


Darice Chang

Darice is an artist, writer, model and translator residing in Taipei. She volunteered with a metaller turned legislator and facilitated for stories appearing in the BBC, The Washington Post, Bloomberg, L’Orange, and Metal Hammer. She was previously Community Manager at FutureWard Central, Taipei's largest co-working and makerspace. In her spare time she enjoys amazing vegan food, photoshoots, and music festivals.