Wed, Aug 15, 2018 - Page 13 News List

From prototype to market, all in one space

Songyan Creative Hub, a coworking space for resident designers that boasts the latest maker technology and tools, moves into its second year by opening the studio to the public

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

Songyan Creative Hub is an open coworking space and makerspace occupied by 18 design teams.

Photo: Han Cheung, Taipei Times

Materials developer Huang Wen-chuan (黃文娟) spent over a month experimenting on paper mulberry tree fibers with Thai industrial designer Ratthee Phaisanchotsiri, with each contributing their expertise to an exhibition in a boutique beneath their studio.

Sandwishes Studio has taken collaboration a step further, working with neighboring W Glass Project to create a hand-blown glass cup that contains elements that promote the awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis — Lou Gehrig’s disease — otherwise known as ALS.

The designers at BuyMood, on the other hand, have been playing around with the cutting-edge machines and tools in the studio, while testing the market by attending international design fairs and selling their products in the boutique downstairs.

These are some of the possibilities for the 18 resident design teams at Songyan Creative Hub (松菸創作者工廠) that have occupied the open coworking space since July last year. Only open to design teams with less than six years experience, the studio is part of Songshan Cultural and Creative Park’s plan to not only promote but to support and develop new design talent.

With UV-LED and 3D printers, laser engraving and computer-controlled cutting machines as well as woodworking, sewing and pottery tools, it’s both a makerspace and coworking space. The studio also provides a variety of workshops, exchange opportunities and a shop downstairs for their products to test the market.

Previously limited to resident teams, except for special events, the studio opened its doors to the public two weeks ago, and now a limited number of amateur members can also use the machines, attend workshops and interact with the designers.

MORE THAN RENTAL

While it seems that Songshan Cultural and Creative Park had mostly focused on exhibitions, renting spaces to designers and selling products, executive director Jasmine Chou (周琍敏) says that the studio is the latest step to nurture designers — whether amateur or professional.

“Although it’s what we focused on initially, our goal was never to just let people rent a space and open up shop,” she says. “We want them to keep developing.”

The first phase was to attract foot traffic by turning the grounds into a creative showcase through shops, exhibitions, graduation shows and other activities. Then they launched Songyan Creative Lab, which focused on performing arts talent. Songyan Creative Hub was the logical next step, a project that took about two years to develop and realize.

“We had many programs to support designers before, but we wouldn’t see them again after the workshops or classes,” Chou says. “They need to be here so we can help them with the fine details.”

The 266-ping (866m2) space is completely open, only with a conference or workshop room that’s enclosed with glass. This fosters communication as designers will often chat, collaborate and borrow each other’s working spaces, tools and expertise. One section is dedicated to foreign resident designers, which is how Huang got the opportunity to work with Phaisanchotsiri.

Having machines on site makes experimentation a lot easier for the designers, as factories usually don’t take small orders and designers often have to seek out spaces for them to tinker with prototypes.

“We hope that our designers can use these tools to make more prototypes and initial studies before they take the step to turn it into a product,” Chou says.

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