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„Lo Studio della Pietra“: a workshop teaching Taiwan-based marble-producing companies all about product design in natural stone under Italian expert instruction

Workshop „Lo Studio della Pietra“, August 2016. Chaya Lin (far left), Moreno Ratti (with hammer).

Designer Moreno Ratti and movie producer Chaya Lin set the scene for one week of creative design in the Hualien Region complete with hands-on exercises

Taiwan-based blancor Studio, where movie producer Chaya Lin works, wanted to produce a documentary on the success story of Italian product design: „It takes Two“ was to be the title. The idea: to show that every successful development is a symbiosis of designer and technician, i.e. not dictated by the creative mind or disregarding practical considerations, or, conversely, not one where technicians take on the role of nay-sayers constantly bursting the creative bubble of designers but rather to recognize the need for dialog and exchange to reach a viable solution and make ideas happen.

The movie-makers’ team visited Carrara and Pietrasanta where designers Moreno Ratti and Paolo Ulian live the symbiosis with craftsman’s establishments.

The film made its debut in Taiwan in 2016 with much positive acclaim. Many viewers were inspired by the idea so Chaya Lin began recruiting interested designers and stone producing companies who had been searching for new ideas in the recent past.

After many contacts and talks with representatives of a wide scope of branches, the natural stone sector was found to be the best suited for the job as it had been secluded for some time and had run out of inspiration.

„Shih-Shih”: Taking advantage of marble's quality of cooling down temperature to keep raw food fresh, Shih-Shih uses the material as a raw food tray. It is consisted of trays, chopsticks and a saucer. When all the components are combined, is as a whole becomes a square. The jigsaw-shaped tray not only makes food breathable and less likely perishable, but is also more compatible with chopsticks. Designer: Wu Chen-Yi; manufacturer: Chia-Tai Marble Co., Ltd. / Stone and Resource Industry R&D Center; material: Serpentinite, brass.

In the Stone and Resource Industry R&D Center (SRDC) in Hualien, a development center for the natural stone branch, Chaya Lin found interested parties. And Moreno Ratti, her contact person in Carrara, dared agree to participate in the workshop without reservation and even contributed the title: „Lo Studio della Pietra“.

Two points of focus accompanied the making of the workshop: design ideas were to provide the core of the curriculum and participating companies were to provide in hands-on practical exercises.

„Rolling Days”: We have seen ourselves through the mirrors, which reflect expectation, change and aging day by day. We roll the mirror just like sunrise and sunset roll the time. The base of the mirror refers to the shape of crossing mountains in Hualien, the origin of marble. The colors of White marble and Serpentinite represent daytime and night. Designer: Yang Kai-Mei; manufacturer: Chia-Tai Marble Co., Ltd. / Shinying Enterprise Co., Ltd.; material: Serpentinite, Taiwanese white marble, brass, stainless steel.„Rolling Days”. Designer: Yang Kai-Mei; manufacturer: Chia-Tai Marble Co., Ltd. / Shinying Enterprise Co., Ltd.; material: Serpentinite, Taiwanese white marble, brass, stainless steel.

Ten designers were chosen from among the candidates. Some were students of product or industrial design, two were product- and jewelry design graduates respectively.

Tuition fees were 10,000 Taiwan $ (approx. 300 US-$), a small fee for the workshop and one week of all-inclusive accommodation at the SRDC made possible because the organization is non-profit and assumed part of the costs.

„Split Marble Collection”: is inspired from the sawing process of the marble. Being cut artificially, the retaining rough rims of stone pieces greatly contrast the smooth profile. Through stacking, the common way to place the slabs, the rough edges create the image of a layered cavern beneath the table and the stool. The stiff outlines together with the irregular fractures present the aesthetic of dissonance. Designer: Chang Chia-Ling; manufacturer: Shinying Enterprise Co., Ltd.; material: Serpentinite, Taiwanese white marble.„Split Marble Collection”. Designer: Chang Chia-Ling; manufacturer: Shinying Enterprise Co., Ltd.; material: Serpentinite, Taiwanese white marble.

The workshop took place from August 18th to 23rd, 2016. One month after the end as many as five prototypes had been completed and could be presented. Moreno Ratti himself presented one piece in his capacity as head of the workshop. Two participants could not complete their drafts because of previous pressing engagements.

„A Table series”: a minimal design in search of simplicity. The essence of design is supposed to be simple and understandable. But as a designer, I aimed to enrich the viewers' experience and inspire their different perspectives. Designer: Lien Chin-Ho; Manufacturer: Chia-Tai Marble Co., Ltd.; material: Taiwanese white marble, glass.

Participating companies were: Chia-Thai Marble Co., Ltd., Shinying Enterprise Co., Ltd. und De-Yi Marble Co., Ltd.

„A piece of marble”: The beautiful pattern of marble is fascinating. Oriental people see landscape and story from marble. After rearranging marble into geometric patterns and various colors, the implication of marble extends. The object reminds viewers of food imageries. The glossy surface is like the icing of a cake, and the sides demonstrate its rich layers. Depending on the viewers' state of mind, one may see different things from the same piece of work. So, what do you see? Designer: Hua Wu; manufacturer: Shinying Enterprise Co., Ltd. / Chia-Tai Marble Co., Ltd.; material: Serpentinite, Taiwanese white marble.

The workshop is scheduled to take place again this year.

Giotto: This idea was born when I was watching the marble slabs in stock. „Why not use this material in a different way?” I thought. So „Giotto“, a round marble table made of one piece of Taiwanese marble slab, was born. To make the table lighter, "Giotto" applies a composite material - marble and aluminum sandwich - which is only of 1.6 cm in thickness yet stronger than the original material. No waste, simple for assembly and shipment. Designer: Moreno Ratti; manufacturer: Chia-Tai Marble Co., Ltd.; material: Serpentinite, Aluminium Year: 2016„Giotto“. Designer: Moreno Ratti; manufacturer: Chia-Tai Marble Co., Ltd.; material: Serpentinite, Aluminium

County Hualien and its capital are situated in the East of Taiwan where two continental shelves meet. The region is thus naturally rich in natural stone deposits near the surface, mainly white marble but also green serpentinite and jade. Taroko National Park offers walking tours of the marble canyon (were stone is, albeit, not presented in its highly polished form).

We show photos of the prototypes and participating designers and company chiefs.

Lo Studio della Pietra

Stone and Resource Industry R&D Center (SRDC)

blancor Studio

Moreno Ratti

Photos: Jun-Yo Liu

Lo Studio della Pietra

Designer Wu Chen-Yi (left), designer Yang Kai-Mei. Designer Chang Chia-Ling (left), designer Lien Chin-Ho.Designer Hua Wu.Moreno Ratti, Chaya Lin.Wang A-Lee, founder of Chia-Thai Marble Co., Ltd.Huang Rui-Shan, founder of Shinying Enterprise Co., Ltd.Liu Chuan-Sheng, owner of De-Yi Marble Co., Ltd.

(26.05.2017, USA: 05.26.2017)