In the past few years, Artilize Worldwide Co. Ltd (a gift service and production company based in Taiwan) has created a successful homeware brand called Tales and cooperated with the National Palace Museum to launch a teaware set called I Am Qianlong Emperor: The Emperor’s Treasure. The company has won numerous international design awards including Japan’s Good Design Award. Below, Tony Tseng, CEO of Artilize Worldwide Co. Ltd, shares his unique point of view, which is based on his many years of experience providing design-related services to the Chinese market.
According to Tony Tseng, Chinese people have an advantage over Westerners when providing design-related services to the Chinese market: they have an innate knowledge of Chinese culture. Of course, he continues, Chinese culture is influenced by multiple dynasties, from the Tang, Song, and Yuan to the Ming and Qing, and each dynasty has its own styles, textures, colors, craft skills, and aesthetics. Each dynasty has its own living environments and lifestyles. It is important to investigate, through the art of design, how the meaning of Chinese culture can be combined with the aesthetics of life in the 21st century.
Tseng cites the homeware brand, Tales, and the teaware set, I Am Qianlong Emperor: The Emperor’s Treasure, as examples. The teaware set was inspired by a portrait of the Qing Dynasty’s fourth emperor, Emperor Qianlong, who, according to Tseng, was chosen because he is well-known as a tea aficionado. The lid of the set resembles Qianlong’s headdress, the handle of the pot resembles the monarch’s collar, and his imperial seal was added to the bottom of the pot. The set perfectly combines Emperor Qianlong’s profile, style, attitude, and ideology with the philosophy of the tea ceremony. “Young people aren’t interested in old traditions,” Tseng notes, “so if we want to promote tea culture to the younger generations we must use modern, innovative methods to transform antiques and communicate the important cultural elements.”
In addition to finding inspiration in ancient culture, the design of the teaware set also takes the needs of modern Chinese people into account. Chinese people typically live in small living spaces in urban areas, Tony Tseng notes, so the teaware set not only can be used to make tea, but it also can be used as interior decoration. Based on his years of experience, Tseng found that teaware design should take into account the usage habits and consumption needs of different target markets. In earlier times, Westerners would often make tea out of flowers and herbs, and groups of people would drink tea together. As such, the teaware they used increased got bigger. Today, teaware is smaller in order to satisfy the needs of the Chinese market, and teaware of different sizes and functions is also made to satisfy the needs of different regions within this market. “A design should not only consider the needs of the market, but also our own advantages to differentiate within that market. There’s a lot of practical teaware available in China, but the Chinese market is still open to those who know how to embed innovative ideas and tea culture into gift sets,” Tseng says.
The Chinese market is the largest economy in the world. How can designers maintain a place in this market? According to Tony Tseng, an integrated design service system that incorporates different disciplines and professions must replace the current system, which only provides a traditional, single design service. For example, Clay Carver International Limited assists companies, museums, and even city governments to develop and deliver gifts, which are carriers of culture and ideas, to their clients and partners. The company has developed an integrated “gift marketing system” that combines marketing, design, and production into one service package. “The Chinese market is so big that we should consider future trends with a broad perspective. It’s very important to subvert the traditional, single design service and breed talent with multiple capabilities. It’s only through incessant innovation that we stay in the market,” Tseng concludes.
About Tony Tseng
Tony Tseng obtained a master’s degree from the Design and Research Institute, Department of Horticulture and Gardening at National Taiwan University. Tony Tseng is the CEO of the Artilize Worldwide Co. Ltd, the Vice President and Director of Taiwan Cultural and Creative Industry Association (TCCIA / TCCA), and the Advisor and Design Gallery Advisor of the Canton Fair Products Design & Trade Promotion Center (PDC). In 2013, Tseng created a homeware brand called Tales and a collaborative brand with the National Palace Museum.
Today, Tales has several franchise stores across the globe–in Taipei 101 Mall and the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Taiwan, and in other international cities such as Shanghai and Beijing in China, and San Francisco in the USA–that act as proof that, with the right support system, traditional industry and craft business can be made viable.