Fate-design heroine: Theresa Wu
Neihu, Taipei, a small sheet-metal shed, constructed right behind a metal factory in a small alley. A single board that reads “Fate-design” is the only sign for the studio.
Theresa Wu, who used to be a well-known accountant and consultant of a prestigious firm, came from a family of metal manufacture. Her family owned a small factory, and she was no stranger to the banging of hammer swinging or the squeaking sounds of heavy machinery. Nor was she unfamiliar with all kinds of tools hanging on the wall, the finished or unfinished products laying on the table or the floor. Lifetime of labor left marks on the faces of her father and relatives. Their fingers were never clean. The stains on their torn shirts repeated the same old story of passion and hard work.
Though petite in height, you can feel her presence once she starts talking about Fate-design, with a voice fused with confidence and candidacy
The first impression about Fate-design: a business card package, which includes a regular business card and a small pendant. The pendant itself is about 3x6 cm in size, no bigger than the good-luck charm we can get from the temples. It is made of stainless steel, engraved with a vase and a peony, along with Fate-design logo and website.
“This piece of pendant needs to go through at least five procedures: incision, chamfer, scrub, polish, and laser carving. For each procedure we have to send it out to a different factory. No one factory can manufacture the whole thing from start to finish. This is the current situation for Taiwan metal industry. Every factory has its own specialty. One factory is good at welding, another maybe fabricating or carving. In another word, the factories are selling fixed skills. And after the products are sold through the chains of construction companies and dealerships, they only earn measly profits.”
From 1960 to 1980, when the economy started to bloom, large-scale companies like East Asia and Ming-Chengxing participated in major construction projects. Small-size company, like Tung Chung, was still able to remain profitable. But now, years later, the prosperity no longer exists. For those smaller factories, hidden among the labyrinth of allays, under the shadow of towering buildings, surrounded by the stinging smell of metal burning, what they do to survive is to manufacture unoriginal, standard products day in and day out. But what are their prospects when facing the constant changing of the net generation? What can they do to create another business peak?
Lack of originality is the present frustration for the numerous factories. Lack of originality is also the impression the general public feels about the stainless steal. Looking out the windows, people are used to the steel bars blocking the view, dividing the sky into pieces. Who doesn’t have chunks of key chains in order to open the heavy stainless steel doors safeguarding the entry?
Heavy, gigantic, ugly, single-function, that’s stainless steel.
Who can imagine stainless steel to play a different role?
“In fact, stainless steel manufacturing technology has gone through several changes. My uncle, Mr. Ming-ja Wu, started to work with the sculpture master Mr. Yu Yu Yang years ago. They experimented with different stainless steel manufacturing techniques. Together they created many art works and outdoor landscape sculptures. For the last forty years, he has also trained many people who later became experts of this field. Mr. Ming-ching Wu, another uncle of mine, developed a new technique and gave it a romantic term “stainless the heart, forging the sentiment”. What he did is to manufacture a product that is light weight, rust free, and at the same time, maintaining the strong and calming feel of regular metal.”
For a long time, the metal industry, like other manufacture industries in Taiwan, is content with sub-contracting for foreign companies and enjoys the quick profit of counterfeiting. The concept of “design” is never appreciated and developed in order to uplift the image of the industry and for its long-term growth. The designers in Taiwan are often rejected for the reason of being unprofitable. Very few factories are willing to take a chance on their dreams.
Inside the Fate-design studio, several tables put together to form a working area. Designers are constantly working on their computers. Drawings, photos, books are everywhere for ideas and inspirations. On the ceiling, along the walls, display their works from the past year.
”What we have are great workmanship, excellent techniques and talented designers, and at the moment when the metal industry is facing a great transition, why can’t we take up the challenge, redefine our direction, and create our own stage?”
Fate-design, a beginning of originality.
“Fate-design is an original brand name. We choose stainless steel as our main material, and cooperate with designers and factories. What we create is not just merchandise, but work of arts. Every piece tells a story of union between man and arts.”
“Fate-design is a stage for changes. When the publics look at our showcases, they will not see reruns or silent shows, but fun, chic and trendy displays. Our works will be classics infused with culture elements. “
“Fate-design is a platform for new business. The designers can bring in ideas, we will find factories to build them, and our own marketing will help promote the products. Designers and factories will share the profits equally. It will be a great chance for the designers to build up their own brand, and for the factories to get rid of the traditional chains of distribution.”
Fate-design, an original dream.
There used to be a very popular puzzle. On one side, it was a human face, and on the other side, it was the world. What it means is that if you can figure out the people, you can own the world.
Theresa’s dream is just like this kind of puzzle. Each time, each new project, Theresa will bring together all the people from designing, manufacturing and marketing, and when all the pieces fall into places, a new world is created. It is the world of Fate-design; the story of Fate-design.
What are the names of the Fate-design stories? Flower Shadow, Tranquility, Dragon Sphere.....