TRANSLATION | Eugenia Yang
What 1,300 degrees carries is the warmth of this city and the epitome of past eras, and Richard Liao is prepared to set another high point for HWA HSIA GLASS GROUP’s years of foundation with his personal charm. To become an Instagram-worthy location is simply a transitional concept. “Make glass sexy again,” is perhaps his interpretation and what he lives by towards HWA HSIA GLASS GROUP and Aqua Soul—a translation of the genuine emotions.
A Fiery Tenderness
Slowly walk into the factory, what comes into sight is the heated glass. Even when you close your eyes, it is as if you can still hear the factory workers’ laughter, which feels like tapping into a long lost memory. The first time meeting Richard, the CEO of HWA SIA GLASS GROUP, one adjective comes to mind: youthful. Perhaps to him, making his company younger and establishing Instagram-worthy features are not vanity projects, but more of a personal achievement. Finding the ordinary is what draws people closer to one another. It is true that the general public knows relatively little about glass and glassmaking, which is why Richard’s mission at the moment is to turn the factories into an Instagram-worthy location, thereby building a Hsinchu Class Cultural and Creative Park. By establishing an immersive experience and allowing visitors to actually go behind the complexly beautiful work stations, a true understanding of warmth and feelings is given. A building that appears dull and plain at first, is now ignited with a new sense of tenderness and ingenuity. There is even an area in the factory that is painted with patches of macaroon colors, simply because Richard’s mother is a big fan of the French dessert. As we wander amidst the hallways and corridors, it is as if we are taken back to the alleys in Northern Europe, an atmosphere that is romantic and distinctive.
Recreate & Rebrand
Retrieve a piece of old memory to feel the humanistic ambience again. With a white circle in the shape of a G symbolizing glass, the enormous sign of HWA SIA GLASS GROUP is added with an extra layer of meaning, appearing more fashionable and unique through the camera lens. As our fingertips glide across the brick wall, we feel the peelings and cracks that embody the blend of history and modernity—perhaps this is the aspect of life that is the most important. Facing such a competitive world, Richard continues to update and renew his thinking and beliefs because learning is a journey that never ends. He had also begun to try to speak through social media to share with the world the spirit of his brand and the story of the glass brothers. Targeting the Chinese market, he also plans on establishing an in-person store for Aqua Soul in Shanghai. Though rooted in Taiwan, Richard aspires to expand his brand to all of Asia. Established in 2014, Aqua Soul focuses on being “all-natural” and “sophisticated,” and only makes glass that is 100% recyclable. With the designer’s innovative ideas and the glassmith’s years of experience, dainty utensils that are full of life are thus created. In the near future, he is planning on launching a new cup series so that no matter where you are—at home, the gym, nightclubs—you will be able to carry an Aqua Soul with you.
Through the New Looking Glass
Originally a burning hot factory, now the desolate machine rooms have turned into a glass art creative park. We are still on the same land, what’s different is the change of time. Now, with the accumulated history of the city inherited and reborn, Richard is ready to collaborate with local Taiwanese stores to spark something new. When asked about how he maintains his energy, the answer is simple: workout. Through the workout sessions, he is able to relax his body and mind and release any tensed-up energy. Reminiscing the past times, Richard wants to tell his younger self—the twenty-year-old undergraduate roaming through the fields of Cornell University—there really is no rush because he’s still got a long way to go. Jokes aside, he still hopes that when people mention glass, HWA HSIA GLASS GROUP is what comes to mind. Under Richard’s lead, he aspires to establish a brand that connects Taiwan with the rest of the world. Glancing at the monochrome walls of Aqua Soul, I can’t help but smile to myself as I wait excitedly for what he will be able to achieve.
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