05. in Taipei, a discussion with Hao Ming, founder of Green Room Ideas Cooperation.
shot in November 2018


How did you get into creating leather? What is your background?
I created this brand about six years ago with my friend Nagaki who is not here today, unfortunately. I learned industrial design in College. Nagaki and I have known each other for fifteen years, we met in a design company. We used to design devices like computer, motorcycles, technical stuff. We enjoy timeless pieces such as old cars, vintage cameras like the Leica ones that were designed sixteen years ago but are still useful. In our company, we were mainly working for clients that always had unusual demands. At that point, we aspired to conceive things we enjoy and could relate to. We wanted to show our ideas, thoughts, and beliefs by using solid material and make sure we have a high-end process of creation, then the tools we would produce would last long.

Why choosing to work with leather?
To be honest, at that time, we worked on various design projects that involved using this specific material. It was the first time we worked with leather. It was an entertaining experience. We began to produce a few pieces for our interest. About four years ago we joined a design exhibition held in Taiwan to showcase our design. We got excellent feedbacks, it was a good impulse so we kept going, producing new things, developing the brand.

What was the first item you design?
It was a bag. I can’t show it to you it’s not here anymore!

That’s ok, thanks, can you tell me exactly what Green Room Ideas Cooperation stands for?
We think that our job as designers is to work in the backstage. However, some people, when they meet us -for the first time- assume we are doing environmental business related to the planet or something. I think it is just because of the word « Green » you are using in your brand’s name, it could be confusing for some people but, I understand it is more about the way of creating your items, about the process...

When you started the brand you developed an interest in craftsmanship work. It must be pleasing, to be able to create goods for your utility. However, did you understood you will work on a precise design concept, that you would provide accessories or did your ideas grow with time?
Well, me and my partner love the effortless aesthetic from the Bauhaus style. We were already studying it when we were students so, we wanted to use this concept to create graphic design & our leather products. Many people will say that our design are really simple, using the concept « less is more ». We are still trying to figure out what are our strengths and what makes us stand out simply because we are always learning through the process of making.

Yes but in my opinion, we can already notice a signature on your designs, don’t you think so?
Right, kinda, if you’re referring to the making process. Our products are not perfect. You can observe tiny flaws. For instance, if you look at this particular bag, from far, it looks polished and well executed but, once you are getting closer, touch and hold it, these small imperfections give a unique character. It is meaningful for us to produce goods made by human’s hands, that machines can’t do. This idea matters.

What about the conception of your products. You’re not following the Fashion tendencies. How do you know how many accessories you’ll produce?Sure, we don’t design for fashion exposure. Time is essential. We do not race. It takes a good amount of time to study, think about how to develop our merchandises. The dilemma comes from our buyers asking about the release of new items. It’s hard to respond because we do not have a definite schedule. We are focusing on delivering quality products and are less concerned about the quantity.

How many people are working for GreenRoom?
On a daily basis, I would say between three and four people are working there and we have associates that help with the stitching process when we are dealing with multiple orders. Although, they are not on a full-time schedule.

What is your process regarding the design? Where does your inspiration come from?
One of the principal inspiration comes from stuff I don’t possess. For two years, we are producing merchandises by listening to other people ideas. They give us opinions about how to transform a piece they own into something totally surprising. So, we write down those suggestions, began to study their ideas, and if it’s possible to make them happen, we will.

How much time does it take to create for example a bag, from the initial idea to the final object?
I would say two or three months. However, even if the product is a hundred percent done, we can fix the little imperfections. I mean, the products we are crea- ting are stiff. I remember this woman who bought one of our bags

five years ago used it every day and she came back with it. We don’t replace an old piece that is cracked with a brand-new one.We fix it and give an update...

What was the biggest challenge you faced while creating your company?I think most Taiwanese people can afford our items although, they still crave to buy famous luxury brands. Unfortunately, they are solely following trends, pieces of information that are spread by TV, Magazines, Internet. They don’t think by their own. In Taiwan, they don’t believe and support new designers.

What is the key to success then?
First and foremost, you will have to be successful worldwide then, once you come back here, people will invest in your business.

How do you hire the people who are working alongside?
The hiring process is simple. For instance, Lucy who’s here, I saw her resume and remarked she was making stuff using her hands. As I told you, we believe in craftsmanship work, people who are using their hands and skills to create something from scratch. Also, we had a lot of common interests. We need people that suit our aesthetic and who are able to describe our work to costumers without faking it. It has to sound authentic and trustworthy.

Do you still experiment with leather?
We work with cow leather. We usually take pleasure in working with sturdy leather, however, quite recently, a few of our female clientele requested if we could produce softer ones so we might, sometimes soon.

What about collaborating with people, I noticed that you have been doing a few.
We did a collaboration work with Classico a handcrafted glasses company founded in 2012. My associate Nagaki designed the eyewear. They were in charge of the production. We also collaborated with craftsmen from Kyoto, we were invited to Kyoto to design different materials and work on handmade crafts that extend the artistic value of our products.

You guys are also custom specific design?
Indeed, some people could choose an object we are producing then require a size modification for example, because it might be too big or too small for their personal use. On the other hand, some are sending sketches they did, so, we examine the work and if it is possible, we manage to do something with it.

Could I choose the color palette of an item?
Most definitely, we have various colors palette and textures. You have to decide which one fits your taste.

Is the production delay the same?
If you design a whole new piece, it will take a longer time.

Are you producing everything in Taipei?
Yes mainly because of the quality control. With every item sold, you’ll find a little note with the name, and the signature of the person who produced this piece. I think it gives a unique value to the product.

That’s wonderful. What is the best advice you ever received?
I would say one made by a teacher we had in school. He came to the exhibition we did in Taipei. He explained that the future of design needs guys like us. And even if this type of products and business are not an easy path to follow. No matter what happens we should never give up and try to survive. Knowing that our production process isn’t suited for mass production, living in an era where our society is moving fast, consuming fast, it is harder to compete with this type of economy. People do not want to wait. But it is our philosophy, making quality things gradually. As being said, for craftsmen, it is difficult to sustain in this economic system.

I agree with you on this subject. I guess since the creation of GreenRoom you have gathered a community of consumers who understand your beliefs and desire quality products that will last.
Yes but, they don’t buy a couple of products. We are not producing clothes that you could throw away when there are damaged.

What about living in Taipei, do you enjoy your time in the city?It is ok, however, I think sometimes about moving. The rent is very high in the city. Also, I enjoy the quietness. I guess moving near the mountains or the sea, would be great but not now, perhaps ten years from now.