Lin Cheung, the designer of the London 2012 Paralympic Games medal, was commissioned to design an entirely new set of diplomas for the 2016 Tang Prize laureates. She first set aside any idea of the diploma as a written document; instead she focused on the base material—paper. With that commonplace substance, human beings can convey a near infinity of ideas, from groundbreaking research to an everyday laundry list. Using a unique type of paper, and through a special forming process, she gave a gentle curve to each diploma, making them able to stand freely. Then, looking to the tradition of bookbinding, she wrapped the diplomas in buckram.
The diploma for Sustainable Development, inspired by maps and mapmaking, reconfigures the continents of the world to represent a change in perspective, and the hope and opportunity that change can bring. For Biopharmaceutical Science, the inspiration was the underlying molecular structure of paper, hinting also at the structure of life. For Sinology, the eight fundamental brushstrokes of calligraphy. Since all Chinese characters use these basic strokes, these deconstructed figures represent the entirety of the written Chinese language, but also the unwritten possibilities. And lastly, representing Rule of Law are the acts of giving and receiving: of giving a helping hand, and of the values bestowed through our gestures.