Finding Infinite Creativity in the Factory
By Yuxiang Ou (歐宇祥)
In Lane 193, off Zhongzheng North Road in Sanchong, August 12 was unusually quiet. Hidden among the factories is the DHH studio, an industrial-style space and paradise for makers run by designer Gina Hsu. Whatever design you dream up, one or more of the hundreds of nearby factories will be able to provide the materials and technologies you need. But at the weekend, all the trucks are parked and the factories are closed.
Makers often need a lot of manufacturing technologies for their creative work, and this is where the Sanchong Industrial Area comes in. As many as 864 factories line Zhongshan North Road, with expertise in molding, spot welding, using lathes, plastic injection molding, and more. And over in Lane 193, there are upwards of a hundred more factories. The site where DHH studio stands used to house a lathe machine shop owned by Gina Hsu’s grandfather, which gives the studio an authentic factory background.
The “Factory Adventure for Designers and Makers”, organized by vMaker and the Ministry of Labor, gathered over a dozen makers. Also there was Chief Chen of the Workforce Development Agency, who said: “The Ministry of Labor has always been trying to create a space for makers to do their thing, to offer assistance through vocational training and different kinds of funding.” The Ministry of Labor has worked hard to help makers continue with their work for a long time to come.
The Industrial Area has been something of a “no-go” zone for quite some time. People don’t really see the skills possessed by these experienced technicians. Gina Hsu wants to change that, by making a map of the area showing the various factories in Sanchong to make them easier to locate. She has also set up a “Metal Processing Museum” at DHH studio, showcasing different metals and how they are processed to help people understand how these technologies work.
Gina also mentions that she has been several times to Milan Design Week, which features famous brands, while experimental works can be found throughout the city. Many of the craftsmen at the design week have interests that go beyond their own work, to the development of the tools that they use. “As well as the final products, perhaps they think about the process, or even the stuff that comes before that.”
At the Milan Design Week, Gina witnessed the results of the craftsmen’s solid vocational education: design schools in Italy do not only teach design but also focus on the “legacy of technologies”. It was then that she decided to make the Sanchong Industrial Area an integral part of the community and create a more diverse environment. “Sanchong has great energy,” she says.
To help people understand Sanchong culture, she commissioned Japanese director Hiroo Ninomiya to make the film “Portrait of the Factories”, which centers on DHH Studio and depicts the lives, technologies and ideas of four factory owners. The film is touching and has a message that will last: Factories are more than just grease and dirt. You can also find wisdom and the hard work of many people.
The makers who show up at the studio all have their own field of expertise: Some are software developers, some are students looking for modeling tools, some are fanatical woodworkers who make exquisite toys, some are students who came to study the factory landscape, or students who are organizing an equipment-sharing platform for their college. People are finding more and more creative ways to contribute to an open-source future of shared legacies.