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A team from KMC (Kaohsiung Monomer Company), the joint venture between Lucite International and China Petrochemical Development Corporation, has paid tribute to the rising stars of design at an awards ceremony held in their honour at Yunlin National University of Science and Technology. Over the past 14 years, KMC has established its Acrylic Design Contest as a platform for students and lecturers from the academic world to connect with manufacturers involved in the acrylic industry to exchange ideas and progress thinking into real commercial opportunities.

This year the contest attracted 728 entries from 36 universities across Taiwan – 53 entries were short-listed. Those entrants then had six weeks to produce prototypes for the final round of the competition. A panel of expert judges from the fields of design and acrylic fabrication assessed the prototypes for originality and potential for immediate commercialisation. On top of the exceptional first prizewinner – A Piece of Chair by Chang-Yung Chang from Yunlin University of Science and Technology (above), second prizewinner – Line Light by Shu-Jun Liao also from Yunlin University of Science and Technology (below, left), and third prizewinner – Zui by Shih-Ren Su from Chung Yu University (below, right), there were 15 honourable mentions, three company awards, and five merits.

As part of the award ceremony, each designer joined with their fabricator partner to present their designs to guests. This interaction helped guests to better understand the concepts, which meant they could give the students more specific feedback and, in the end, improve the chances of their designs being adopted for possible commercial production.

Eric Huang, General Manager of KMC, expressed his thanks and appreciation to everyone who participated – fabricators, designers, students, lecturers, guests and the team at KMC. He said: “I am delighted to see the number of entries and partners working with us on this important initiative increase every year. Hopefully through working with fabricators, students can gain more experience and enhance their abilities to compete in the business world. The contest helps us to ensure that acrylic is kept ‘front of mind’ as a valuable material solution for products of the future.” Guests from the companies participating in the Acrylic Design Contest praised all of the prototypes highly, mentioning in particular that they believe the 2015 concepts had a higher level of commercialisation potential than in previous years.

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One of the distinguishing features of the Acrylic Design Contest is the chance students have to materialise their designs by working alongside fabricators. This gives students a rare opportunity to learn more about acrylic fabrication techniques and to understand the characteristics of the material that might make it suitable for use in their future designs. Many young designers who have participated in the past are now design professionals and see their experiences with the Contest as stepping-stones that have helped them to use acrylic to add value in their work. Some of their designs have even featured in the renowned Makezine www.makezine.com.tw. These accomplishments make the team at KMC believe that devoting time and effort to the contests over the past 14 years has made a really positive impact on the acrylic industry in Taiwan.