大破大立 謝榮雅

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2015 / 4月

文‧彭蕙仙 圖‧林格立


「很難想像,如果是在5年前,我們這樣的合作有沒有可能出現?」說起與鴻海的合作,「富奇想」公司董事長謝榮雅說:「過去的5年,鴻海集團歷經各種挫敗,他們切入手機、電子商務等等,都不算成功,這使得郭台銘思索想要走一條不一樣的路,於是找上了奇想。」本來以為「效率之王」郭台銘的鴻海與「創意之王」謝榮雅的奇想,應該是「產業的兩端」,距離很遙遠,但是與郭台銘有了更多接觸後,他卻發現:「若是論到台灣最有創意的企業,鴻海一定名列其中,而鴻海最有創意的人,就是郭台銘。」


正逢其時的相遇

謝榮雅認為,因為過去一段時間以來,郭台銘在多角化經營、擴大產品的投資上,受到不小的挑戰,因此決定另闢蹊徑,尋找不同的基因植入,於是找到了謝榮雅;然而,做為「全台灣最會得獎的設計師」,謝榮雅又何嘗不是在設計與經營之間經歷了幾次「破與立」的冰火試煉後,才更深切地體認到,設計與資金、產業能量的結合,才能讓設計爆發出下一代的亮點,因而終於同意與郭台銘攜手,在物聯網時代,合作開發智慧生活設計,「何其幸運,我們在布局下一步的時候相遇,時機、環境和團隊的成熟度都對了。」謝榮雅說。

在工業設計的領域,國際工業設計聯盟認可了4大國際設計獎,包括德國的iF和Red Dot(紅點)、美國的IDEA(Industrial Design Excellence Award,傑出工業設計獎)以及日本的 G-Mark(Good Design)。2003年至今,謝榮雅和他所帶領的團隊一共拿下這4大獎共109座設計獎座,他是全球拿下4大設計獎獎座最多的設計師,同時也是台灣唯一位獲得4大國際設計獎的設計師;特別的是,在2006和2011這2年,謝榮雅和他的團隊在同一個年度裡,同時拿下3金,這種前所未見的優異成績,不但引起國際設計界的高度矚目,更對台灣設計界和產業界形成鼓勵作用,「很多人這才發現,原來台灣也可以拿到4大國際設計獎。」

此後,台灣參加國際工業設計4大獎的風氣一年比一年興盛, 得獎數也從2003年的16件,翻了10倍不止;這股得獎熱潮甚至向下延伸到大專院校的設計相關科系,2011年德國iF設計獎選出了100件設計概念獎,台科大囊括14件,創下單一學校獲獎紀錄的世界之冠。從此,4大獎的得獎數也成了台灣設計科系排名的關鍵指標。謝榮雅說,得到國際大獎確實是CP值(性價比)很高的廣告與行銷手段,但是對他而言,得獎的目的並不是拉抬設計師的身價,而是透過設計,「幫助台灣產業能夠更快速地拓展國際市場。」

傾注熱情於設計

自承有著「5年級的沉重」的謝榮雅(民國56年生)說,他從小的夢想就是「改變人類未來的生活」,而身為南台灣長老教會的牧師之子,在耳濡目染下,一直敏感於周遭政治、社會的變化,激進激憤、不滿不安;一直到他進入青春期,發現了「美工」這個新天地,便一股腦地把強烈的情緒轉移到這個「手作世界」裡頭。從此以後,「我開始傾注另一種熱情來表達對台灣這片土地的愛,那就是創造。」        

謝榮雅服完兵役後,正好遇上台灣解嚴,「我感覺到前所未有的海闊天空,決定全心投入我所鍾情的設計。」在人人稱羨的宏碁電腦工業設計部門工作3年後,謝榮雅決定辭職創業,那年他26歲。當時的宏碁正如日中天,「如果繼續待下來,我應該可以擁有一份穩定的工作,過著還不錯的生活,」謝榮雅說:「但是我希望能夠擁有更豐富的產業經驗,並且在領域裡擁有更高的自主權,這是只有『創業』才辦得到的。」

謝榮雅非常有遠見的選擇在台中創業,因為「置身於製造供應鍊的腹地,對想要從事設計服務業的創業有很大的幫助。」台中、彰化一帶是台灣傳統產業的重鎮,資源豐沛,是工業設計所需要的材料與量產的聚落;再說,中部的生產成本,包括租金、薪資等都比較低,人跟人之間也容易建立關係、形成協力網路。

然而,儘管中台灣有種種有利條件,對謝榮雅來說,創業之初,仍經歷了一段艱辛窘狀的日子。「我曾經山窮水盡,靠著中發票的400塊錢過日子,」謝榮雅回憶:「有時,口袋裡一毛錢也沒有,銀行裡只有3、4百塊錢,我騎著腳踏車在台中到處找那種可以提100塊錢的ATM。」辛酸往事如今盡付笑談中,謝榮雅說:「所以我很清楚哪些ATM可以提百元小鈔耶。」

與黑手老闆打交道

謝榮雅一直相信,設計必須結合理性與感性,許多設計師擅長沉浸於感性,但是工序、工法等理性的訓練同樣重要。學生時代擔任美工主席,謝榮雅長時間「蹲」在印刷廠,才真正學了平面設計;創業後,他直接與台灣黑手老闆打交道,充分掌握材料與製程,「在製造工廠的磨練下,我才真正掌握了工業設計的理性部份,包括塑膠射出參數、怎麼樣開模以及射出成型等。」謝榮雅說:「我一定要走到設計的背後、了解後端工法,才有辦法往前推、知道要怎麼設計。」從一開始,他就自我要求,設計師「畫得出來就要照這樣做得出來」,他的設計不打高空、不虛應故事,不是畫的美美的空中樓閣,而是要能硬碰硬在工廠兌現出來。這正是後來謝榮雅的設計能夠成為國際設計大獎常勝軍的核心關鍵:「設計師不是為了滿足自己的ego、展現自己有多厲害做設計,而是為了幫助廠商突破、更上一層樓。」

謝榮雅選擇「有心想要站上國際市場的客戶」做為合作對象,他用「台灣囝仔打世界盃」的心情做設計,「窘迫,是我們共同的特色。」謝榮雅沒有留過洋、學歷普通,做為牧師之子,他當然也沒有產業背景、沒有強而有力的經濟支援……在他看來,這一切正如台灣的中小企業,規模小、資源不足,卻總有個「校長兼撞鐘的」負責人,在不怎麼精通英文的情況下,拎著一個007手提箱,全世界走透透,「我想做這一群人跟國際市場之間的橋梁─透過設計,讓台灣的製造能量被世界看到。」

謝榮雅說,多年前,他曾幫彰化一家腳踏車業者設計車燈,當他到工廠時,只見在省道路邊有一間小小的透天厝,後面的鐵皮屋裡有十幾個「阿桑」在組裝腳踏車,當時他第一個浮上的念頭是:「該不會最後根本收不到錢吧?!」謝榮雅設計了一個用手就可以拆卸的車燈,車燈拿下來之後是可以獨立使用的手電筒。但是這個車燈的成本是傳統車燈的2倍,客戶猶豫是不是要商品化,謝榮雅鼓勵廠商藉此搶攻腳踏車的高端市場;最後這個車燈在2006年為謝榮雅奪得第一座iF設計金獎,而這也是台灣的第一座iF金獎。這裡頭還有個讓人心酸又心疼的故事。

轉動代工的腦袋

謝榮雅說,iF頒獎前,台北正好舉行一年一度的國際自行車展,這個廠商沒有錢參展,跟別家業者租了一個只有50公分見方的超級迷你攤位,陳列這款車燈。英國自行車商萊禮看了非常喜歡,想跟這個台灣工廠簽下英國總代理合約,台灣工廠不明所以,竟說:「嗯,你要多少量?貼你的LOGO也可以。」謝榮雅在一旁看了心裡不禁嘆氣,唉,代工久了,連腦袋都轉不過來了。

所幸故事的最後有個令人欣慰的結局:萊禮告訴台灣業者,這麼棒的產品應該發展為自有品牌。

謝榮雅用這個例子說明他之所以能夠頻頻得獎,是因為「我站在台灣產業的浪頭上,這是累積了幾十年的豐沛能量。」也因為有這樣的體認,謝榮雅認為「國家品牌」非常重要,「台灣在世界創新舞台上的位置,一定會影響個別企業、設計團隊、設計師所能夠擁有的辨識度,」同樣的,謝榮雅相信,如他一般的設計師們「在國際上創造的能見度,也可以為台灣標定更好的位子。」

以牆經濟翻轉地板經濟

帶著這樣的自我期許,謝榮雅與郭台銘合作成立「富奇想」這家以「重新定義新時代居家環境體驗」的新公司,謝榮雅說:「希望這樣的合作能夠讓鴻海從OEM、ODM走向EDM(ecosystem design manufacture)。」而謝榮雅的信心除了來自於郭董「富」的投資,更來自於他對郭台銘有著不同於外界的認識和理解,「從蘋果的手機到軟銀(Softbank)的機器人,過去多年來,郭台銘掌握了甚至實際參與了全世界最創新、最有創意的技術與設計,他的眼界絕對夠、製造能量也絕對夠。」

預計在今年第4季發表第一個新系列的富奇想,將以「牆經濟」顛覆過往的「地板經濟」。謝榮雅說,透過前瞻技術與設計加值,牆經濟可以把過去被閒置的垂直立體平面的使用價值極大化,這是全面翻轉台灣產業的破壞式創新,也是2個亟思創造自有品牌的台灣創業者夢想的交集:謝榮雅與郭台銘,期望從牆經濟走出為人作嫁的撞牆期─在2014年毅然停掉「設計服務」這個最賺錢的業務的謝榮雅說:「創業二十多年後,我決定砍掉重練,雖然讓公司付出了慘痛的代價,感謝上帝,與郭台銘的合作,為我們又找到了新的目標和動能,接下來,請期待富奇想讓人眼睛一亮的『WOW』設計吧!」

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EN

Hsieh Jung-ya: Linking Taiwan to the World Through Design

Polly Peng /photos courtesy of Jimmy Lin /tr. by Max Barker

When you ask ­Hsieh Jung-ya, co-founder of ­SquareX, how he came to create the firm early this year in a joint venture with tech giant Fox­conn, he counters with a rhetorical question: “Would there have been any chance of this kind of cooperation coming to pass five years ago? It’s hard to imagine....”


For some time now, Fox­conn founder and chairman Terry Gou has encountered a number of not insignificant challenges in his efforts to invest in diversified operations and broader product lines. Therefore he was looking for new synergy that would help him map out alternative routes. That explains why he sought out ­Hsieh Jung-ya.

But what is in the deal for ­Hsieh? Though he is renowned for being “Taiwan’s most award-winning designer,” ­Hsieh’s career has had its financial ups and downs. Only after passing through the crucible of harsh economic realities did he come to realize that for your designs to be turned into the next generation of explosively popular products requires a combination of both design capital and industrial capability. This is why he finally agreed to join hands with Gou to develop designs for “smart living” in the era of the Internet of Things. “It was really serendipity. When we met, we were each figuring out our strategy for the next step. The timing, the environment, and the maturity of my design team were all just right,” says Hsieh.

The International Design Alliance recognizes four major awards in the field of industrial design, including iF and Red Dot, both of Germany, the Industrial Design Excellence Awards from the United States, and Japan’s G-Mark (Good Design). Since 2003, ­Hsieh and the team that he leads have brought home 109 separate prizes from these four top competitions. In fact, he has won more awards from the Big Four than any other designer in the world. He is also the only designer in Taiwan to have won awards from all four. Especially noteworthy were the years 2006 and 2011, when ­Hsieh and his team brought home three gold medals in each of those two years.

Hsieh is the first to admit that winning international awards is an extremely cost-effective way to achieve the goals of advertising and marketing a company. But for him, the real end purpose of design is not to put the designer on a pedestal, but “to help industry in Taiwan be able to expand its share of the international market more rapidly.”

Pouring passion into design

Hsieh, born in 1967, says that he suffers from the “seriousness of mind” of people born in Taiwan in that decade. From childhood his dream was to “change the way mankind lives in the future.” As the son of a minister in the southern Taiwan wing of the Presbyterian Church, which was very active in fighting for human rights in the 1970s and 1980s, Hsieh grew up especially sensitive to political and social change, as well as being prone to indignation, dissatisfaction, and insecurity.

But when he matured into a young man, he discovered a whole new world in aesthetics and design. He transferred his powerful emotions into this “handmade world.” From that point on, he says, “I started expressing my love for this land of Taiwan by pouring out my passion in a different direction, that is to say creativity.”

When Hsieh was 26, he made the farsighted decision to set up his firm in Tai­chung, reasoning that “it would be very helpful for anyone trying to start a venture in design to be right in the midst of the hinterland of the manufacturing supply chain.” The Tai­chung/Chang­hua belt is the bastion of traditional industry in Taiwan; there are a lot of manufacturing resources there, and the area provides the materials and production capacity that designers need. Moreover, production costs such as rent and salaries are lower in central Taiwan, and people are more motivated by interpersonal relationships, so it is easier to form mutually supportive networks.

Nonetheless, though central Taiwan offers many advantages, Hsieh still went through hard times when he first started up his business. “There was one time I was so poor that I had to rely on NT$400 I had won in the national store-receipt lottery just to get through the day,” he recalls, “And there were other times when I didn’t have a dime in my pocket, and just a few hundred NT dollars in the bank, and I had to ride my bicycle all over Tai­chung looking for ATMs that dispensed hundreds.” (Many ATMs in Taiwan dispense only NT$1000 bills.) At least now he can look back on those days and laugh. “Hey, I must be the city’s leading expert on which ATMs dispense hundreds and which don’t!”

Hands-on approach

Throughout his design career, Hsieh has taken an attitude of “overcoming the odds through hard work.” “Being hard pressed is the special characteristic that we Taiwanese have in common.” ­Hsieh never studied abroad, got only an ordinary education, and as the son of a minister of course he had no background in industry and no powerful financial backing. The way he looks at it, all of this is exactly parallel to the situation of small and medium-sized enterprises in Taiwan.

He talks about Taiwan’s small enterprises, with their undersized operations and their constant struggle to raise liquid capital, but which nonetheless always have that one guy in charge who is a hands-on leader working not only in the office but right there on the production line. Hsieh says, “I have always wanted to be the bridge between our home-grown manufacturing base and the international market—to bring Taiwan’s manufacturing capabilities to the attention of the world through design.”

Hsieh tells the story of the time many years ago when he designed a bicycle lamp for a manufacturer in Chang­hua. When he went to the “factory” in person, he discovered a small house by the side of a two-lane highway, behind which was a corrugated steel structure, inside of which a dozen or so old aunties were assembling bicycles. At that time, he says, the first thought that came into his head was, “What is this?! Are they are even going to be able to pay me?!” ­Hsieh had designed a lamp that could be removed from the bicycle and function as an independent flashlight. However, the production costs of his lamp were double those of the traditional bicycle lamp, and the client hesitated about whether to try to produce it on a commercial scale. Hsieh encouraged the client to grab the opportunity to get a piece of the high-end bicycle market.

Ultimately this lamp won Hsieh his first ever iF design awards gold medal, in 2006, which was also the first iF gold won by any Taiwan designer. The story behind the lamp tells us a lot about the bittersweet struggle Taiwan’s industrialists have gone through over the past couple of decades to take their game to the next level in the international market.

OEM, not OBM? OMG!

Hsieh says that shortly before the lamp won the iF award, the annual international cycle show was being held in Tai­pei. Hsieh’s client did not have the funds to participate in a big way, so, together with some other businesses, he rented a “super-mini” booth only 50 x 50 centimeters in size. There the manufacturer set out the new bicycle lamp. A representative of Raleigh, the major British bicycle maker, really liked the lamp, and wanted to sign a contract with the Taiwan manufacturer to become its agent for the UK. The Taiwan manufacturer didn’t really understand what was happening, and replied, “Okay, how many do you need? We’ll just stick your logo on there and we’re good to go.” Standing off to one side watching the whole exchange, ­Hsieh couldn’t help but sigh—the manufacturer had been doing OEM (outsourced) work for such a long time that he just couldn’t think of himself as the original brand manufacturer (OBM).

Fortunately, the story had a happy ending. Raleigh told the Taiwan manufacturer that such a great product should be developed as its own brand.

Wall economics vs. floor economics

While Fox­conn is certainly not a “small enterprise,” with ­SquareX ­Hsieh and Terry Gou are taking the same attitude of “taking on the world” that ­Hsieh brought to his previous work with SMEs. They are positioning ­SquareX as an entirely new firm that will “redefine the home environment experience for a new era.” The company is expected to release its first series of products in the fourth quarter of 2015. The underlying thinking behind the series will be to overturn “floor economics” and replace it with “wall economics.”

Hsieh says that through the use of forward-looking technology and value-added design, “wall economics” can multiply by many times the utility of previously idle vertical space. This is a “disruptive” innovation that will completely turn around Taiwan industry, and is the common dream of these two Taiwan entrepreneurs, ­Hsieh and Gou, who aspire to change the world. In a play on words, “wall economics” applies not only to the literal use of enclosed spaces, but also to the fact that OEM manufacturing has “hit a wall,” and only original brand manufacturing can take Taiwan to the next level.

Hsieh, who in 2014 suddenly abandoned his most profitable activity, “design services,” says: “Twenty years after founding my business, I decided to cut the chain. Although the company had to pay a terrible price for this, thank God that working with Terry Gou I have discovered new goals and new motivations. I hope you will all look forward to startling new developments in ‘wow’ design!”

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