Interviews - Danzo
The fact that locations matter is something that is proven by Danzo Studio, based in Taipei, Taiwan. Influenced by both landscapes and industries, Danzo combines all inspiration Taiwan has to offer. We spoke to Wei-Lun, the Founder and Design Director of Danzo, about ideas, the company, their Landscape series, and of course, Taiwan.
Hi Wei-Lun, can you please tell us a bit about Danzo: Where did it all begin?
The idea to build up a brand went way back to sometime around 2009, the year I got my bachelor degree in design. At the time it was only an ambition hiding in the back of my head and instead of only thinking about it, I decided to do some preparation. The first and maybe the most important thing was to identify the relationship between me and design. In other words, build up a bigger, extremely personal and more fascinating world inside my brain. Therefore I went to Design Academy Eindhoven where I graduated in 2014. Danzo was founded by the end of 2013, when there were already four designers. What I did between 2009 and 2013 was not only to elaborate myself but also sending the future blueprints to those people who were close to me, building a team step by step. This you can call the origin of Danzo.
Why did you found Danzo? From what fundamental ideas did you start?
A long time ago, I saw the potential of Taiwanese manufacturing industry. It actually has nothing to do with the cost, but it’s an industry with supreme quality and a strong ability for innovation and development, which really interests me. And the only way to support and chain up these small factories is to build up a brand, because as we grow and go international, they can benefit as well, in many aspects. Moreover, not only myself but also my partners were a bit disappointed about the reality of design industry in Taiwan, and this lit up the fire inside our hearts: “It’s time, we can do something, let’s give it a try.”
Is the Landscape series an ode to Taiwan? Are you returning the favour to the industry, so to speak?
Taiwan is a small island, the size is about 36,197 km2, but it has 268 peaks that are higher than 3,000 meters. In another way, Taiwan has a huge variety of landscapes with different climates and of course, a huge variety of animal species sit in different landscapes and altitudes. That makes us quite special from a geographical point of view. So in conclusion, we live as designers who used to see so many different worlds of landscapes in our daily lives, I will say that the country itself provided a feast of nature for us to experience since our childhood, and it did influence a lot during the entire process to design and materialize the Landscape series.
Where is Danzo situated now and can you tell us a bit about the area the studio is located in?
Danzo is now situated in central east Taipei, in an area full of various restaurants, cafes, bars, and select shops - quite a commercial area with young people and travellers, full of energy and entertainment. We see this as beneficial; people from Danzo have many options to have a drink within walking distance or have a casual time reading in a bookstore at 2AM.
How does your experiences abroad combine with the traditional Taiwanese way of doing things?
Perhaps ‘industrial’ would be a better word to use instead of ‘traditional’. By knowing the hardcore industrial part, it is somehow easier to materialize what we have built up in Europe, perhaps the more design and creative part. In conclusion, we used to be good at making, now we are good at making and thinking, with our own perspectives.
Both in the benches and in the Landscape project you use aluminum. Could you explain us why you’ve chosen this material?
Aluminum is our favourite material so far, the main reason is its potential to be manipulated in a huge amount of varieties during the making process. Besides this, it is also a material that is durable and can be fascinating with different finishings, all these characteristics make aluminum our favourite material, yet it is not the only one we work with.
What would you say is your signature as a designer?
That is a good question, but there might be multiple answers. It differs from case to case since we do different designs with different circumstances. But for our own product line “Danzo”, it is very clear that we produce only playful designs with good stories behind them. So if I have to sum our signature to one single word, it will be “imagination”. You might say that we tend to create a certain range of freedom for users to interact with products, so they become unique existences. The interactions differ from person to person, our products are like pets, and we expect they to stay longer with the users as their favorite objects for a long time.
How did you come up with the name Danzo and what does the logo represent?
‘Danzo’ is similar in pronunciation to “egg maker” in our mother tongue. Since we always put imagination in our products, they are like eggs that hatch into different creatures to have different interactions with their owners. That is the origin of the name “Danzo”. Then the logo is quite understandable, first of all, it appears to be an egg of course. Then we just added a clockwork key on it to show that it is an artificial creature inside the eggshell.
What would be the final goal you’re aiming for with Danzo?
We work as a brand that designs and produces high quality products, products that are designed with fascinating contexts to create interesting experiences. So the ultimate goal is very simple. We wish that our products, no matter what they are, could really be integrated into people’s everyday lives, and remain there as long as they can. Not as ordinary objects, but as companions.