桃李久種自成蹊,老驥伏櫪志千里,揮別教鞭耕書園,退也不休建平台,藏書匯集懷德居,友朋羣聚嘉溪畔,新知交流唯斯處,經驗傳承好所在.─2004創館題詩─
懷德居木工實驗學校
5-176 懷德居木工三部曲| Category : 5木工世界| 2013/08/18 00:32

懷德居木工三部曲

The Fine Woodworking Trilogy



本文乃繼
2006 年行政院新聞局以英文、法文、西班牙文報導《森林之子創立家具圖書館》後,再次獲得外交部【Taiwan Review 】以《木工三部曲》為題,向世界各地介紹懷德居。我們樂於轉載和自己同胞分享。


Byline:JIM HWANG

Publication Date:04/01/2013


Lin Tong-yang believes that making a good piece of furniture requires paying attention to craftsmanship, form and material.


Lin Tong-yang has launched a library, school and showroom to share his passion for well-designed Western furniture.


In the “experiencing room” at the HDG Foundation in Linkou District, New Taipei City, dozens of wooden chairs are the only furniture, and posters and photos featuring chairs or details of their crafting are about the only decorations. “This is ‘The Chair’ designed by Hans Wegner of Denmark in1949 and crafted by Danish furniture workshop PP Mobler. The design became famous after it appeared in the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon television debate,” says foundation proprietor Lin Tong-yang (
林東陽), who can go on and on as he provides visitors with specifications, history and details about each item in the collection, or as he talks about how to choose a piece of good furniture.


Most of the chairs in the experiencing room, as Lin calls it,cost tens of thousands of dollars a piece, but he still encourages visitors to try sitting on all of them. “A chair, or any piece of furniture, has no existence independent of the user,” he says. The room’s purpose is not to sell high-end chairs, but to support Lin’s “business” of promoting well-designed modern furniture. To serve that goal, in 2004 he founded Furniture Bibliotheca HDG, a library focusing on furniture, and in 2006 established the HDG Dream Factory, a woodworking school, before going on to set up the HDG Foundation and its experiencing room in 2008. HDG is an initialism for Huai De Ju, the name of Lin’s family residence.


Lin was born in Linkou in 1947. After earning his bachelor’sdegree in forestry from National Chung Hsing University in Taichung City,central Taiwan in 1970, he shifted the focus of his studies to wood technology and furniture manufacturing. Supported by scholarships from the National Science Council, he took advantage of the opportunity to study those subjects in the United States and earned both his master’s degree and doctorate in the field from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, which was then known as the world’s carpentry and furniture capital. Lin returned to Taiwan in 1979 to teach furniture design in the Department of Industrial Design at Provincial Taipei Institute of Technology (now National Taipei University of Technology,NTUT).

The collection of Furniture Bibliotheca HDG includes not only publications for industry professionals, but also scale models of museum-gradechairs. (Photo by Chang Su-ching)


As Lin received much of his education in the United States, it seems only natural that he would have always been interested in Western furniture. In reality, he had actually been collecting and conducting researchon traditional Chinese furniture for nearly two decades before he began focusing on modern Western designs in the early 2000s. He notes that any good piece of furniture requires attention to form, material and craftsmanship.Chinese furniture, while built using top-quality materials and sophisticated techniques, lacks form, he says. “Generations of craftsmen who make Chinese furniture have learned carpentry through a master-apprentice system, in which apprentices work in the manner taught by their masters,” Lin explains.“Creativity hasn’t been encouraged, so the design—or form—of Chinese furniture has seen little change.” In terms of unique and creative design, therefore, he finds that there is much more to be appreciated and studied in modern Western furniture than in traditional Chinese furniture. As a result, he eventually decided to get rid of all the Chinese furniture he had accumulated and purchased “The Chair” as the first piece for his new collection of fine Western furniture.


In 2003, when Lin decided to retire from NTUT after teaching therefor nearly a quarter of a century, he still had the desire to contribute to the university. He therefore proposed the establishment of an exhibition space onthe NTUT campus to house the books, posters, models and other teaching materials on furniture design he had gathered over the years, as well as a number of award-winning furniture designs created by students and alumni. For reasons that have never been clear to Lin, his proposal did not receive a response from the school’s administrators, so he decided to set up the gallery himself. “The country supported me in all my overseas studies and research on furniture design,” he says. “It’s only fair for me to give something back to society.” In fact, looking back now, Lin considers it fortunate that NTUT did not take up his offer, as all the books and other items would probably just have ended up collecting dust in some dark corner of the university campus.

Danish master craftsman Niels Roth Andersen (second left) discusses furniture design with a class at HDG Dream Factory. (Photo Courtesy of Liao Wan-ting)


With assistance from former students and connections in the local furniture industry, Lin raised sufficient funds to create an exhibition space by renovating part of his old family residence, which was originally built in 1897 in Jiabao, a small village in Linkou. When Furniture Bibliotheca HDG opened its doors in December 2004, it was Taiwan’s first and only the world’s second library to focus exclusively on furniture. In addition to more than 1,000 books in Chinese and other languages, the library has about 100 scale models made by the Vitra Design Museum of Germany—an internationally renowned private museum—of famous furniture items in its collection. The Linkou facility’s walls are covered with photographs and posters of hundreds of furniture designs ranging from an ancient Egyptian chair to state-of-the-art Danish designs. Lin, the library’s only staffer, welcomes visitors’ questions and holds lectures or seminars on an occasional basis. “I’d like to see Furniture Bibliotheca HDG, in addition to serving as a repository for furniture-related publications, function as a platform for people to share their enthusiasm and ideas about furniture,” he says. The library is open by reservation and has drawn not only local visitors, but also those from Denmark, France, Germany, Mexico, Mongolia, North America, Sweden and Russia.


Craftsmanship and Heritage

As the library began to operate, in December 2004 Lin started thinking about the possibility of setting up a carpentry school. He explains that he wanted to establish such a school as another means of promoting modern wooden furniture. “There has been a lot of well-designed furniture made from all kinds of materials since the 1920s, but the pieces made of wood are still most valuable because of the craftsmanship and heritage involved,” Lin says.

“Lounge Chair,” a 2012 design by photo journalist and HDG Dream Factory student Fan Hou-min (Photo Courtesy of Lin Tong-yang)


Establishing a school, however, turned out to be more complicated than opening a library. The first thing Lin needed to know was whether he could find at least a dozen students to begin a class. He surveyed library visitors and found that more than enough of them showed an interest in taking classes. In fact, some were willing to prepay part of the tuition even though the school was only a concept at that stage. Encouraged by that response, Lin started looking for a classroom. After prolonged negotiations with dozens of members of his extended family, in 2006 he managed to get their permission to convert a jointly owned, disused pigsty about a three-minute walk from the library into a 3,000-square-meter workshop.


The next thing was to equip the workshop with proper woodworking machinery. As his budget was limited, Lin visited contacts in Taiwan’s woodworking machinery industry, which is one of the largest in the world, to negotiate more favorable prices. Much to his pleasant surprise, all the manufacturers showed strong support by donating the machines after learning about his goal of establishing the school.


The final challenge involved in setting up the school was finding teachers who had knowledge of not only carpentry, but also design. Lin notes that as in many other crafts in Taiwan, most carpenters are still taught under the master-apprentice system or through a handful of dedicated departments at vocational high schools. The problem is that those who receive carpentry training under either system usually do not know much about design, while university-trained designers often experience problems in executing their designs due to insufficient knowledge of carpentry techniques and materials. Teachers who had both abilities were hard to come by, but Lin already had a few candidates in mind: some of his old students who had trained in vocational high school carpentry departments and later entered NTUT to learn design.

Wu introduces her cookie stools during a presentation at HDG Dream Factory at the end of the 2009 spring semester. (Photo Courtesy of Fan Hou-min)


Lin Yen-chih (
林彥志) was one of those former students. Because he had excelled at carpentry at Kung-Tung Technical High School in Taitung County, eastern Taiwan, he was not required to take an entrance examination to gain admission to NTUT and went on to earn his bachelor’s degree in industrial design there in 1995. During his high school and university years, Lin Yen-chih won several national and international furniture crafting competitions. After graduation, he attempted to set up his own workshop and produce his own designs, but found little success and had to put that ambition on hold in favor of working at a furniture factory. “The pay at the factory was decent, but I wasn’t happy at all about working with plywood and nailers all day long to fill the orders,” he says.


When Lin Yen-chih was offered a teaching job at HDG Dream Factory, he jumped at the opportunity, even though the pay was less than that at the furniture factory. “Teaching two days a week provides me with a steady income.In the mean time, I’ve got time to pick up what I’d left behind and do what Ireally like,” he says, as he is now able to run his own workshop in Sanxia District, New Taipei City on a part-time basis.


With the facility and teachers ready, in December 2006 the first students enrolled at HDG Dream Factory for classes that began in spring 2007.Then as now, students in the program need to complete 170 hours of classes in 18 weeks. The first several hours are devoted to providing training in basic carpentry techniques and operating tools. Individual students then go on towork on their own projects, which can be as small as a jewelry box or as big as a canoe. Many discussions and demonstrations of techniques are required, and some students must make adjustments after they find their projects are unworkable because of limitations in materials or techniques. At the end of a semester, the students gather in the open courtyard of the Lin family residence, where they are required to present their works and briefly introducethe motives or philosophies behind them.

The HDG Dream Factory now has 110 students divided into five classes.(Photo Courtesy of Fan Hou-min)


There are also some extracurricular activities at the school, as Lin Tong-yang periodically organizes exhibitions that give teachers and students the opportunity to showcase their works. He has also invited local and international artists and designers to visit HDG Dream Factory. Last year, for example, Danish master craftsman Niels Roth Andersen was invited to visit the school, where he shared some of his furniture-making experience with the students. And when classes are not in session, Lin Tong-yang has organized trips that allow teachers and students to visit some of the most famous furniture workshops in Denmark. “I was so excited that I stayed up all night,because there were so many things—things that aren’t taught by teachers or found in textbooks—to learn by actually observing how those master craftsmenwork,” says Lin Yen-chih of his 2010 trip to Denmark.


Long List of Applicants

Currently, HDG Dream Factory has three teachers and two teaching assistants who are responsible for instructing a maximum of 110 students. The students are divided into five classes each semester. Those who complete the semester are awarded a certificate, although it is not officially recognized by Taiwan’s education system. That does not seem to put off prospective students,however, as there is always a long list of applicants waiting to get in. Lin Tong-yang talks to all who apply to make sure their desire to take the classes is the result of a genuine enthusiasm for the craft rather than a momentary impulse. Most of the students, who come from different professional fields, age groups and even countries, are interested in learning carpentry as a hobby. Sixty-year-old Chen Yu-chien (陳幼健), the head of the information department for an international bank, for example, has been taking HDG’s carpentry courses since 2007. “For me, carpentry is work of the heart,” he says. “My designs maynot always be practical, but they’re reflections of my feelings and memories.”

“That Carpenter’s Guqin Table,” a 2010 creation by HDG Dream Factory student Chen Yu-chien. The table is designed to hold the guqin, a Chinese stringed instrument. (Photo Courtesy of Lin Tong-yang)


A few students, meanwhile, have found such a passion for carpentry that they have decided to make the craft their profession. Even Wu (
吳宜紋)started taking the courses in 2009 when she was still a graduate student in the Master’s Program in Arts and Design at National Taipei University of Education.Wu, who was educated as an art teacher, enrolled at HDG Dream Factory simply because of her interest in woodworking. In one of her projects, she transformed the memory of her favorite cookies when she was a child into a work titled “A Remembered Taste,” a wooden stool with a seating surface that resembles a cookie. The design won first prize at the 2010 Taiwan Crafts Design Competition and attracted plenty of enquiries from potential purchasers there. Wu continuesto take courses at HDG Dream Factory to sharpen her techniques and also runs asmall workshop in Xindian District, New Taipei City, where she handcrafts her cookie stools and other designs.


In 2008, two years after students began taking classes at HDG Dream Factory, Lin Tong-yang opened the HDG Foundation. With Furniture Bibliotheca HDG, HDG Dream Factory and HDG Foundation focused on research,education and promotion respectively, Lin Tong-yang has created a trio of channels for continuing the development of the craft of fine Western furniture.“It’s like sports,” he says. “To have a popular sport, you need to attract players as well as a sufficiently large audience. And then you’ll have professional teams, or brand-name workshops in the fine furniture industry, as well as star players, or master craftsmen.”

HDG Dream Factory students find that engaging in discussions with teachers and making adjustments according to their advice are the keys to turning out a workable design. (Photo Courtesy of Liao Wan-ting)


摘自:
外交部「台灣評論 Taiwan Review 」月刊 April 2013  http://taiwanreview.nat.gov.tw/ct.asp?xItem=202651&CtNode=1368


延伸瀏覽:
行政院新聞局「taiwantoday」'Forest son' opens furniture library By Alexander Chou 08/18/2006

http://www.taiwantoday.tw/ct.asp?xItem=23044&CtNode=430
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