擦亮老字號

林務局×種籽設計
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2020 / 9月

文‧蘇俐穎 圖‧林格立


這兩、三年裡,「林務局」成為了大眾口耳相傳的時髦話題。推出數十年的公關品月曆,引起搶購熱潮,銷售超過萬份,還有不少人向隅扼腕,以致才剛過了發售日,就急急詢問明年的開賣日。

還有行駛全台的里山動物列車,造型可愛的石虎、草鴞、環頸雉隨著列車穿山越嶺,高人氣好似動畫角色IP,不僅大人小孩競相拍照、打卡,還有人依行駛班表,一路追星。

從印象模糊的「冷衙門」,幡然轉變成輪廓明晰的「潮品牌」,林務局的變化,到底是怎麼發生?


 

踏入位在杭州南路一段二號的林務局,對比外頭是車水馬龍的台北街頭,一入門,偌大的檜木坐鎮中庭,周圍山蘇、蘭花環繞,微暗的燈光伴隨著陣陣的檜木幽香,居然讓人有如入山林的錯覺。

一路拾級,往二樓的會客室。曲折的廊道,包覆著大片的木牆板,極富年代感,然而時不時又能看見,牆上幾幅用色大膽,環繞著動植物為主題的藝術畫作。林務局,好像仍保有傳統,卻又有些不大一樣。

林華慶:從教育場所到行政部門的實踐

這幾年,林務局像是原石經過打磨,露出令人驚豔的華光,讓「醜小鴨變天鵝」的功臣,首推林務局局長林華慶。

會客室中,第一眼見到林華慶,一反公務員的刻板印象,作為部門首長的他,不僅沒有官架子,想法也相當開放。

其中尤其讓人好奇的,自然是這一連串革新行動背後的起因。「以前政府多採單向式的宣導,但這樣的模式,無法滿足現在的民眾,尤其現在網路發達,不僅民眾有很多意見,取得資訊的質與量,也不見得會輸給政府。如何讓民眾接受政策,勢必得花上更多工夫。」林華慶娓娓道來。

上任才四年,這期間,林務局已有許多令人印象深刻的作為,好比文青風格的桌曆、月曆與手札;不輸商業出版規格的出版品;環島宣傳的里山動物列車……設計圈稱這叫「翻轉公部門美學」,但對於林華慶來說,要的無非是同一件事:「雙向溝通」。

過去的公部門,時常被批評距離民情遙遠,一味閉門造車,浪費公帑,卻又成效不佳。如何避免?林華慶認為:「決策形成的過程,可以藉由跟民眾正式或非正式的對話,將不同角度的意見吸納進來。」

至於為什麼想法能有別以往、與眾不同?也許從林華慶的公職生涯,可以略窺一二線索。在進到林務局以前,他在台北市立動物園、台灣博物館服務,與林務局是單純的行政機關不同,這兩個地方是研究單位,也是重要的教育場所。

好比動物園,「在這個世界上,有一群人是反對動物園存在的,」林華慶說明,「為了說服人們,為什麼犧牲了少數動物的自由,就得讓這個犧牲,可以發揮最大價值──這個價值,就是動物的保育與教育。」為此,就得處心積慮,善用方法,加強與民眾交流。

加上林華慶在動物園任內,曾擔任動物組組長兼發言人,歷經大象林旺、馬蘭的相繼過世,與國王企鵝孵蛋等重大事件,讓他不像許多公務員,對媒體總是避之唯恐不及,反能從容應對。

任局長之前,他則擔任台博館副館長,在這個全台最古老的博物館,為了不被時代潮流淘汰,同樣重視對外宣傳,積極在資訊開放的時代走出去,以吸引不上博物館的非典型觀眾。

手繪月曆,創造美學典範的轉移

「第一步,先讓林務局被看到,有比較好的能見度,大家就會注意到你;自然而然,也會注意到你在做什麼。」林華慶這樣想。

月曆,是林務局歷年來都會印製、廣為發送的公關品,也受到一定族群的喜愛,這個會在一般人家中放上一整年的產品,無疑是最好的文宣,因而成為林華慶改革的第一個項目。過去的林務局月曆,多是大山大水的紀實寫真,林華慶則改定調在「手繪」,繪圖的主題則是「森林多樣化的生態服務價值」。

2018 年,改版的月曆正式推出,由素來擅長手繪的種籽設計操刀,月曆主題扣緊當年度的施政主題,至於風格,以懷舊感的插畫為主。雖然林華慶說,插畫感性為重,並不是嚴謹的圖鑑,只不過,手工的筆觸,悄悄回應著博物學中科學繪圖的傳統,有了承先啟後的意義。

首年,主題定調為「飲食之森」,從葉、花、種子、菇菌苔蘚蕨……每個月循序漸進,介紹森林的豐饒物產;次年,則從靜態的植物進展到動態的「里山動物」,所謂的「里山」,即是淺山平原,同樣按月份,依哺乳類、鳥類、昆蟲等分類逐一出場;2020年則是「木作之森」,由傳統生活出發,介紹各樣的木作器物,好比農村常見的童玩、廚具,甚至是原住民的獵具、拼板舟等。

而這樣不落俗套、沒有說教的月曆,很快地就風靡了與山林疏離的年輕族群,甚至在海外也大受好評。雖然這突如其來的改變,讓許多人不習慣,但林華慶仍認為,為了突破同溫層,改變絕對值得,甚至也有原本持反對意見的退休同事,在各方一片叫好之後,也轉變態度,主動來領取。

「我們的合作,就是相互折磨對方。」

不得不說,能重新擦亮林務局這塊老招牌,作為合作夥伴的種籽設計,功不可沒。「一腳走食物設計,一腳走自然探索」是種籽設計的宗旨,種籽設計總監淦克萍是一個浪漫的人,說自己喜歡「寫字、畫畫、手作」的她,讓公司業務,始終環繞這三個軸心。

當我們踏入種籽在台中梅亭街上的基地,綠蔭爬滿了老屋,院子前方的大樹恣意伸展,辦公室旁,另闢一間「節氣飲食研究室」,室內陳架上擺滿了一罐罐的醃漬物,牆上貼著一張張優雅的植物插畫,餐桌上端來一杯自製的野薑花荔枝氣泡飲,還有蕨葉造型的手工餅乾,這無處不是連結風土的生活痕跡,令人霎時恍然,種籽出品的設計之作,所流露出的日常感,原是其來有自。

淦克萍說明,種籽過去多服務於商業品牌,設計企劃一出手,目的都是協助業主在商業戰場爭勝,與公部門文火慢燉的做事方式截然不同,過去她不大接公部門案子,但為何願意連年破例?她回答:「要看大家是不是有孵化品牌的決心?是不是願意跟原本取暖的族群以外的人溝通?」是林務局率先大刀闊斧地改變,想爭取新族群的關注,才讓她毅然決然爭取,成為催生這新品牌的協力夥伴。

淦克萍自我要求高,坦言自己好強,不管做哪個案子,都用盡全力。公司主力風格是插畫,「但我不要插畫只是花邊性的裝飾,既然要畫,就要畫出所以然。」她說。像月曆「飲食之森」,每個月的植物,在版面上僅夠容納二、三十種,但這背後,可是她領著公司裡的七名插畫師,足足畫了上百種,才從中精挑細選;後來合作的里山列車也是,為了八節車廂,她將所有的里山動物全部畫過一輪。

種籽以設計的專業把關美感,林務局則有科學家的嚴謹,設計師所有交來的草圖,逐一經過專家審訂,生物的特徵細節必須完全合乎真實,幸而種籽也大力相挺,為了完美願意不厭其煩、一改再改,這樣痛快的合作過程,讓林華慶後來直言:「我們的合作,就是一段相互折磨對方的過程。」

一條通往山的道路

月曆先形成話題,之後林務局再趁勢推出桌曆、筆記本,同樣膾炙人口。不僅如此,例行製作的出版品也有了新面貌,好比與原住民文字工作者桂春‧米雅合作的繪本《樹上的魚》,內容首次取材自阿美族原住民的口傳神話,在設計上,也有著不輸商業出版品的美感。

事實上品牌行銷只是手段而已,林華慶清楚,目的是要吸引更多人認識山林、親近山林,也了解到森林除了提供國產木材,還有各式各樣的價值,好比如精油的周邊產物,乃至林下經濟、森林遊憩與森林療癒等功能。國土面積有六成為森林所覆蓋的台灣,資源何其豐富,生態何其多樣,但是,若非林務局的蛻變,民眾也不會察覺到。俗語所謂的靠山吃山,靠海吃海,台灣人理所當然是屬山的子民,若民眾與森林疏離,「豈不就像坐在金山上的乞丐。」林華慶比喻。

而他們所做的,無非是想邀請更多人,一起往山裡走去。

相關文章

近期文章

EN

A Makeover for the Forestry Bureau

Seed Design’s Aesthetic Efforts Bear Fruit

Lynn Su /photos courtesy of Jimmy Lin /tr. by Jonathan Barnard

Taiwan’s Forestry Bureau has attained a higher profile among the general public in recent years.

From a bureaucratic backwater about which most people had only the vaguest of impressions, it has become a much-discussed “trendy brand.” How has this transformation occurred?


Entering the Forestry Bureau offices at No. 2 Hangzhou South Road Section 1 in Taipei, we leave behind the busy traffic of the street outside and are greeted by a large cypress tree encircled by orchids in the building’s atrium. Soft lighting accompanies the cypress scent. One almost has the impression of having entered a forest.

We ascend to the reception room on the second floor, where the winding corridors are lined with large wood panels that impart a strong sense of history. Here and there hang boldly colored works of art on the themes of forest flora and fauna. The Forestry Bureau would thus seem to be holding fast to tradition. But in other ways, not so much.

Lin Hwa-ching: From education to administration

Over the past few years, the Forestry Bureau has been like a rough gem being polished to reveal a surprising luster. The figure who has presided over this transformation from ugly duckling to elegant swan is the bureau’s director-general, Lin Hwa-ching.

In only four years he has been on the job, the Forestry Bureau has taken many impressive steps. These have included the release of desk calendars, wall calen­dars and planners with a quirky, hipsterish vibe, as well as publications that look no less fashionable than commercial periodicals. In design circles, these moves have been called “the transformation of public-sector aesthetics.” But from Lin’s perspective, they have but one aim: “two-way communication.”

Government agencies used to be much criticized for being out of touch, wasteful of public funds, and ineffi­cient. How can they avoid these pitfalls? “In the process of formulating policy,” Lin says, “they can explore a variety of perspectives through formal or informal conversations with the public.”

But why has he taken such a mold-breaking approach? Some threads in Lin’s career of government service provide clues. Before entering the Forestry Bureau, he served at the Taipei Zoo and the National Taiwan Museum. Unlike the Forestry Bureau, which is purely an administrative agency, those two institutions also hold research departments and carry out important educational functions.

For example, “There are people who oppose the exist­ence of zoos,” Lin explains. “To make the case that we’re justified in sacrificing these animals’ freedom, we have to show that those sacrifices will bring the greatest value—namely education and the promotion of nature conservation.” Toward that end, the zoo administration adopted prudent methods to enhance communication with the public.

Before taking the reins at the Forestry Bureau, Lin served as deputy director of the National Taiwan Museum. To keep its relevance for society in the modern age, the museum has likewise emphasized public relations, actively staking out a place for itself in the era of digital information to attract people who are not typical museum­goers.

A new calendar paradigm

“The first step was to get the Forestry Bureau into the public eye,” says Lin, explaining his line of thinking. “With greater visibility, people will pay attention to you and naturally notice what you are doing.”

The bureau has long been printing and distributing wall calendars, and they have been much loved among certain groups. Hung in homes for a full year, they are an excellent form of publicity, so they became an early focus of Lin’s efforts as director-general. Previously, ­Forestry ­Bureau ­calendars had featured photographs of grand landscapes, but Lin suggested that the images be painted by hand instead, with the aim of “highlighting the various ways that forests and their biodiversity are valuable.”

First produced for 2018, these new calendars have been created by Seed Design, a firm that excels at illus­tra­tions. The themes of the calendars have hewn closely to the main themes of government policy for their year of publication, and they have employed a generally retro style—highly stylistic and not especially realistic, yet evoking the botanical drawings of an earlier era.

That first year the theme was “The Forest of Food,” and it featured leaves, flowers, seeds, mushrooms, ferns, and so forth. Month by month, the calendar intro­duced the forest’s abundant produce. The following year it moved from flora to fauna with “The Animals of Satoyama.” (The Japanese term satoyama describes the area between mountains and arable land.) Mammals, birds, and insects were all featured. For 2020 the theme is “The Forest of Wood.” Starting with traditional ag­rarian life, it introduces all manner of wooden implements, including toys and kitchen equipment that used to be commonly seen in farming communities, as well as the hunting gear and canoes of Taiwan’s indigenous peoples.

Cooperation and mutual torture

Seed Design made important contributions to the Forestry Bureau’s makeover. The firm “has one foot in food-related design and the other in exploring the natural world.” Its design director, Kan Ko-ping, is a romantic who loves to “write, paint, and make things by hand.” Those three endeavors have become the focal points of the firm’s business.

Kan explains that Seed had previously worked mostly in the private sector. Whenever it made a design plan for a client, the goal was to help them succeed on the commercial battlefield. The “slow cooking” of government agencies demands an entirely different approach, so Kan has been reluctant to take on public-sector jobs. Why then has she made an exception for the Forestry Bureau year after year? “I wanted to see how determined they were about nurturing the brand. Would they be willing to reach out to people who hadn’t already warmed to it?” It was the Forestry Bureau’s decision to take a new approach and attract the notice of new groups that in turn made her want to become their partner in launching those new products.

Kan places high expectations on herself and confesses to being rather strong-willed: Regardless of the client, she throws her all into every case she handles. Illustrations are at the center of the firm’s design style. “But we don’t want our illustrations to be marginal and decorative,” she says. “As long as we’re illustrating, we might as well do it right.” Take “The Forest of Food.” There might be space for only 20‡30 plant species in each month’s spread, but behind the scenes she was leading the firm’s team of illustrators to create drawings of more than 100, from which they would select the most outstanding. They took the same approach when working on the Satoyama Train for the Taiwan Railway Administration. In preparation for decorating the train’s eight cars, the team made illustrations of numer­ous animal species from Taiwan’s satoyama

As design professionals, the team at Seed upholds aesthetic standards, whereas the Forestry Bureau adheres to the rigors of science. The designers submit drafts of all their illustrations to scientific experts for ­review. The smallest of details must be captured realistic­ally. Fortunately, Seed is strongly supportive and willing to make repeated changes without complaint for the goal of perfection. Looking back on the development of their happy partnership, Lin Hwa-min says: “Our collabora­tion has been a process of mutual torture.”

The road to the mountains

The wall calendar was their first project together, and later the two partnered to launch a desk calendar and notebook, which likewise proved popular. Seed Design went on to apply its fresh design sensibility to other Forestry Bureau products, including a recently published picture book, Lokot—The Fish that Lived in a Tree, with text by Amis indigenous author Maya. Breaking new ground, the book draws from the orally transmitted legends of the Amis people, and the polish of its design compares favorably to commercial releases.

In truth, the strengthening of the Forestry Bureau’s “brand image” through the marketing of these products is merely a means to an end: Lin is clear that the ultimate goal is to allow people to gain greater understanding about mountain forests, experience them up close, and learn how forests hold much value beyond their lumber. There are, for instance, peripheral products such as essen­tial oils, as well as the benefits found in the under-­forest economy, forest recreation and forest therapy. Some 60% of Taiwan’s land area is covered by forests. The resources they hold are rich, and their ecologies varied, but without the Forestry Bureau’s makeover, the public’s understanding would be more limited. “If you are close to the sea, you eat from the sea,” runs the old Chinese idiom, “and if you are close to the mountains, you eat from the mountains.” The people of Taiwan’s inter­ior are naturally children of the mountains. Were they to lose their connection to the forest, asks Lin, “would they not be like beggars sitting on a mountain of gold?”

The Forestry Bureau is intent on inviting more people up into the mountains.

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