2011 / Taiwan Designers Week
Woven rush straw products from Yuanli, a town in central Taiwan, were the area's third most important industry (just behind sugar and rice) in the 1930s. In 1936, Yuanli sold more than 16 million straw hats. Since then, with the advent of mass production, it has become cheaper and faster to make these products in other parts of Asia, and the hand-woven trade in Taiwan has been in decline. In 2010, I participated in a project with traditional rush straw craftspeople to explore how craft and design can intersect to create new possibilities for this traditional construction method.
The Yuanli weaving industry is known primarily for hats and mats and so, for my exploration, I fused these two iconic images to create a new type of furniture. The result is a giant straw hat that can be a stool, a lounge chair or a carpet that you can sit, recline, or lie on. The giant hat was hand woven by a traditional craftswoman and took almost a month to complete. Inside the hat cavity there is a wood structure that enables the hat to bear weight so that it can be used as stool or back rest.
In this way, Inheritance combines the spirit of traditional craftsmanship with the functional requirements of the modern world.