Professor takes industrial design students to market

By John Liu,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — It is a sad truth that winning design competition prototypes are rarely adopted by the general public. The reason is simple. These ingenious designs are not fit for mass production.

Take concept cars displayed at motor shows as an example. While their radical designs may be appealing, mass production of these models may or may not be possible. One can invest a lot of time and money into making a prototype, but doing so on a large scale may simply be unfeasible. This is why few aspiring industrial designers are able to promulgate their innovations. It is great to win in design competitions, but it is even more rewarding to receive the consumer market’s approval, said Quentin Tsou (�Q�[��), an experienced industrial designer. A new program at National Kaohsiung Normal University (NKNU) is set to address this issue. The school’s Department of Industrial Design recently opened five ��entrepreneur studios�� to give students an opportunity to test their ideas on factory floors before introducing them in the marketplace. The school provides guidance for students’ new ideas, teaches them pertinent mass production technologies, and matches them with manufacturers who can mass-produce on the students’ behalf.

In the future, the school may also provide financial support to scale up the production of products that have received positive market feedback. ��My goal is to teach students so that they can mass-produce their design ideas,�� said Lin Han-yu (�L�~��), the creator of the entrepreneur studio project and the chair of NKNU’s Department of Industrial Design. The school will provide the funds and molds that are required in the manufacturing process, Lin added. Through these entrepreneur studios, the school aims to equip students with the knowledge required to roll out a new product, from start to finish, Lin stressed. A Success Story We often rave about great design ideas, but how these inventions can be adopted by the general public is where the rubber meets the road. Only through mass production can a designer know if their innovations are economical. The mass production process will force designers ��to consider all questions in the real world,�� said industrial designer Tsou. Many designs can never be commercialized. Some local businesses complain that college graduates nowadays do not possess practical knowledge applicable to the industry.

Professor Lin’s entrepreneur studios are poised to reverse the trend. He already has a success story. Lin started working with a group of students more than a year ago. These students later formed a company called Gandan Design, which now runs mass production. Gandan focuses on making wooden furniture and cultural design items. One of the company’s products is a funnel with a cut channel on the side. It allows air in a container to flow out easily to speed up the flow rate. The company’s products are now shelved in department stores and a couple of cultural and creative design shops. The group received Germany’s Red Dot Design Award and won prizes from the iF International Forum Design GmbH. The group also received cash grants from the Ministry of Culture as part of the ministry’s efforts to promote the cultural and design industry in Taiwan.