With its various patterns, Taiwanese iron tracery can be considered a native creation. The designers used the traditional technique of bending metal on modern furniture to represent this remarkable craft which is about to disappear, and bring the spirit of the hand-made back to life.
Du Hsin-Yu, William Mun Kuan Lai Dong, Wang Yao-Zhang
Taiwan, Hong Kong
Taiwan is well known for its high quality manufacturing technology and the Taiwanese iron tracery can be considered a native trade. The various patterns of Taiwanese iron tracery brought about a unique street view and symbolised the blossoming of the economy and the prosperity of Taiwanese society in the 1970s. Every house would set up a tracery, both as decoration and a prevention against theft. The distinctive view of the tracery-lined streets is still deeply rooted in the people’s memory.
Iron tracery was an iron handicraft produced by senior masters who would design the custom patterns for their customers. The tracery could be presented in more than one hundred patterns with varied geometry. Because the production of handmade tracery was considered time-consuming and labor-intensive, factories started to introduce machine-made traceries that inevitably became stiff and stereotyped. Gradually, the older tracery masters became obsolete and beautiful handmade traceries began to disappear.
The designers found some senior masters who were glad to collaborate and bring back the craft of handmade tracery. To adapt and transform traditional traceries into functional daily objects at an accelerated pace, the designers opted for the techniques that were familiar to the masters and worked within this parameter.
They put out a simple concept – to turn the planar tracery into stereoscopic structures and cylindrical forms. In this way, this substantially reduces the communication time between the designer and the producer , and hence, the cost too. These advantages will help the industrial transformation and bring back the traditional handmade tracery into daily life.