As an international multi-award winning graphic designer, Yung-Chen Nieh (aka Aaron Nieh) is undoubtedly one of the most well known names in Taiwan’s design scene. Having first graduated with a bachelor’s degree in design from the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, he later went on to study applied media arts at the National Taiwan University of Arts. Aaron won the Best Album Design at Taiwan’s Golden Melody Awards in 2010, has both won and been invited to judge the Red Dot Design Award, received the 2014 Golden Pin Design Award in the Visual Communications Design Category for his work in the Not Just Library project, and is the first ever Taiwanese designer to have been inducted into the prestigious Alliance Graphique Internationale.
Aaron is currently based in Taipei and works out of his personal design studio. The space is quite revealing of Aaron’s preference for clean design and for “putting things in just the right place”. Large panes of glass allows the space to be engulfed with beautiful natural light, the bare industrial concrete flooring seems to reaffirm his affinity for cleanliness and simplicity, while minimalistic white counters, tables, and furnishings fill out the rest of the space. “Because of my past experiences, I’m now able to precisely pinpoint the function and purpose of every single detail in my designs – I put the most appropriate thing in the most suitable place.”
For World Design Capital 2016, Aaron has been working closely with Taiwan Designer Center to solidify the status of Taipei as an up-and-coming city that should be regarded as an important creative hub of the region. Aaron recently redesigned storefronts for the Small Shop Signboard Manufacturer project. This initiative paired up stall owners in Taipei’s Dazhi marketplace with professional designers to help them create a new visual identity more fitting for modern times. “The owners of these shops don’t know anything about design. So the ways we’re accustomed to using in trying to explain our concepts to clients didn’t translate well here. To have a better understanding of each other, we had to be flexible and communicate our ideas in different ways,” Aaron explained. “This was a pretty special experience for me.”
Aaron’s graphic design has graced countless album covers, magazines, books, posters, and even beer bottles. But despite his vast portfolio of impressive work, numerous awards, and international recognition, Aaron’s humility is unwavering. This is clearly seen in his personal philosophy, which is summed up in five words: “Signature work yet to come.” Aaron explains that this mantra has always been his expectations for himself, “I always hope that the next piece of work will be more exciting than the previous one. I don’t want to ever feel like I’ve created a so-called ‘masterpiece’. I want my future to be exciting and hold unlimited possibilities.”
“Many Taiwanese people used to describe my aesthetics as ‘Western’ or closer to Japanese-style design,” Aaron says. “But during the 2013 AGI (Alliance Graphique Internationale) conference, I saw the works and styles of so many international designers – I felt like my style was distinctively different, and I felt that it didn’t appear to belong to any specific region. Even when looking at other Chinese-speaking cities, there were still large differences in style between their work and mine. This was an epiphany of sorts to me; it was when I realized how much my education and my environment subtly molded my work into this particularly style. I suppose Taiwan has been subconsciously influencing me and my aesthetics the entire time.”
Aaron cites his personal growth as an artist as coming from an incessant need to challenge himself. Despite being most well known for his graphic design, Aaron often works out of his comfort zone and dabbles with different fields of design from time to time. He’s worked on various collaborative projects that ranges from product design to motion graphics. “In recent years, I feel like there have been more and more diverse types of designs emerging from Taiwan,” says Aaron. “The designs are more different, more interesting, and crazier. There are more ideas, and there’s more competition. The current state of things is great for fostering creative growth.”