Brick: Agency of (De)Colonise History

throwback to the presentation during DDW23

Rising Lai
Discourse-Craft by Design
4 min readDec 2, 2023


photography by Seok Park


How can material history be told engagingly? In the form of design props, research zine, and interactive videos, this critical design project explores brick(laying) as a medium for the hidden stories and humans behind Fort Zeelandia, Dutch Formosa. In this project, I researched the role of ‘brick’ in Taiwanese colonial history. Overall, this project aims to introduce brick as a medium for learning Taiwanese colonial history. And these objects are also my answer to engaging with history in a non-canonical way.


The curation concept for the exhibition follows a dual narrative structure, offering visitors two distinctive routes: ‘present to past’ and ‘past to present.’ This curated structure invites visitors to engage with the narrative from both temporal directions, fostering a comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted relationship between bricks, identity, and history.

'Past to Present'

In the ‘past to present’ route, the journey unfolds chronologically, starting with a zine providing an overview of the intricate history of bricks. This is followed by a top-down narrative exploring Taiwan’s identity, a revisit to heritage, and a captivating exploration of the transition of the brick material.

‘Present to Past’

Conversely, the ‘present to past’ route initiates the establishment of the concept of brick(laying) as an identity marker. It then guides visitors to perceive this identifier within the context of heritage, encourages critical reflection on the coloniser’s perspective, and concludes by linking the brick material with its historical impact.


The exhibition explores the rich historical background of bricks while also in line with two of DDW’s missions: ‘Our Equal Society’ and ‘Independent & Critical Design.’

‘Materialised Fieldwork’ and ‘Memories of Colonisers.’ photography by Seok Park

‘Our Equal Society’

This project advocates for equality by examining how the (re)design of systems and interactions can contribute to a more equitable society. Emphasising themes of inclusivity and connection, this project showcased innovative approaches to interaction guided by mindsets and methodologies.

‘Independent & Critical Design’

The spirit of independence and critical thought is personified in this project. By presenting a variety of perspectives and promoting dialogue, this project allowed me to reflect on the design of artefacts while also adding to a larger conversation about what design is or should be.

‘Through fragmentary in nature and supported by digital installations, the exhibition argued a successful case for precise material investigation as a tool to engage critically with history.’

Claire Brodka, Architonic

photography by Seok Park


What design can do?

The prevailing issue is an outmoded narrative that frequently overlooks the transformative power of hope and undervalues the role of design as a powerful intermediary. The old narrative needs to recognise that design shapes mindsets in addition to aesthetics. To address this, the solution entails developing an enabling mindset that includes hope as a motivator for positive change. Recognising the influential role of cultural storytellers and information exchange venues in reshaping narratives and cultivating a collective consciousness that values and incorporates hope-driven design thinking is critical. The issue at hand is not simply a lack of aesthetic innovation but a failure to recognise and capitalise on the profound impact that a hope-infused design mentality can have on shaping narratives and mindsets.

What’s next?

I’m going to work on ‘Bricklaying in Play.’ The play kit ‘Bricklaying in Play’ includes the modified exhibits from my DDW23 presentation, including the zine, exhibit ‘Materialised Fieldwork,’ ‘Memories of Colonisers,’ and ‘Material Identity.’ The goal of the kit is to tackle the current problem and advance a hopeful design mindset that takes a multidimensional approach to the subject of Taiwan’s (de)colonial history. The ‘Play Together’ workshops will also be held in order to reach a larger audience and promote understanding among participants. Additionally, I will be searching for opportunities for publication and collaboration.

photography by Seok Park

‘Brick: Agency of (De)Colonise History’ is a design and research project developed by Rising Lai. Funded by Stimuleringsfonds. The visuals are designed by Liang-Suei Chien (branding) and Beatrice Cera (zine).