Huang has a special love of
paper and hopes that people
understand paper art via
Carton King has become one
of Taiwan's most famous
Huang successfully turns a
simple sheet of paper into all
kinds of daily products.
Park visitors can observe how
a machine cuts cartons.
The park's displays focus on
the original uncolored
corrugated paper to highlight
the lines and shapes of
From paper to
product: Huang Fang-liang
reveals endless possibilities
at Carton King
Words by Ye Jia-hui
Translated by Angel Pu
Photography by You Jia-huan
Most visitors arriving at Carton King for the first time are undoubtedly impressed by the endless possibilities of paper. Whoever thought of transforming this light, fragile material into all kinds of products and artworks?
Most people may think Huang Fang-liang's success must be tied to an illustrious personal history or the support of some big paper company. However, Huang denies that either is the case. The 52-year-old business owner not only runs a total of seven Carton King branches (six in Taiwan, one in China), but also develops and designs its paper products. Without his enthusiasm and willpower, founding and managing such a large enterprise would not be possible.
Personal interest in every detail
Huang has no outstanding educational degree or wealthy background. Rather, he studied graphic design in high school and joined an advertising company after graduation. His experience in that firm aroused an interest in design, as he began using everyday life and objects as inspirations for new design ideas. After being an employee for a while, the idea of starting his own business began to grow, together with the desire to run a company related to the things he was interested in--packaging, printing, posters, flyers and cartons--all related to paper. In his new one-man company Huang did everything himself, from cleaning to designing, and did them quite well. However, the 1990s saw Taiwan's traditional paper industry not only seriously affected by low-priced paper products from China but also facing a global economic recessioin.
In order to survive and continue his dream, Huang had to think of a new direction for the company. Considering his business was not big and rich enough to purchase imported precision machinery, he decided to think out of the box and focus on developing creative paper products, which was best for his company.
Endless possibilities for paper products
Huang discovered that the cartons we use in daily life are mostly disposable. As they are also light, cheap and durable, it only takes a bit of creativity to find new ways to use them. The main problem he encountered wasn't designing products, which was easy given his experience, but rather his lack of technical knowledge. Therefore, he began studying dynamics, structural mechanics and even ergonomics.
Through his efforts, all kinds of paper products appeared, from paper chairs to paper cupboards. Due to the growing popularity of "eco-friendly" concepts in recent years, people were often interested in products made from the brown cartons, offering fresh possibilities and avenues for Huang's threatened career. At the same time, he also developed a "Carton Bank" website that is home to over 2,000 pieces of information on the design and structure of cartons created by him. "I have prepared for so many years, and it's now my time to shine," he remarked.
At the start, Huang wanted to find a venue where he could display his products for clients, which meant that a small space like a standard office was not suitable. Finally, he found a location in Dakeng where Carton King remains located today. However, the owner wasn't content to just display his creative products. To him, designing needed to be interesting and interactive in order to attract more people.
In order to share his design concepts, Huang opened a park for visitors that attracted a growing number of people over seven years with attractions like the paper-made Eiffel Tower, Taipei 101, windmills, and restaurant chairs, tables and even cups. Everything in this park has become a popular on-line subject of discussion. At Huang's Carton King, people quickly learn that a sheet of paper can be an incredible and amazing material.
Left: As a designer, Huang also had to master
dynamics, structural mechanics and even
Right: The paper Taipei 101 is one of the park's most
Paper-product innovation and design
According to Huang, the one question that he often ponders is "What can paper do?" Developed by the Chinese during the early second century, paper is a product that has changed civilization and become one of the most important items in our daily lives. Huang believes that there are endless possibilities in paper, and understands that it's not enough for one person to come up with new ideas. Therefore, he assembled a group of professionals from different fields, including architecture, visual design and carpentry. As the head of the group, he comes up with ideas, which are each studied and researched by these professionals.
Many paper factories hire Huang's design group to create and test their needs for kinds of paper--from water-resistant, fire-resistant, dust-proof and oil-proof paper to tensible paper--because they know the team is able to develop the best products for different specialties. Carton King's most-famous products, from paper hats, paper shoes and paper lampshades to paper rocking horses, were all also developed by the team. However, Huang is never satisfied with the present situation, as he believes there is always room for improvement. For example, his "Leaning Tower of Pisa" in the park has been renovated many times.
For now, the paper robot "A-lang" is the design team's crown jewel. To demonstrate its impressive abilities, they elaborately designed the cutline so that every joint of the robot was moveable. Those who buy one of these robots can also paint its body to personalize it. As Huang explains the origins of the robots, his childlike enthusiasm is completely evident.
Sharing experiences and interacting with customers
Despite the success of his business, Huang is never satisfied nor has he slowed down. He and and his team have already spent quite a bit of time planning for a zoo made of paper in his park in Dakeng. And why a paper zoo? "Only Taipei and Kaohsiung have larger zoos; it's really inconvenient for children in Taichung, so I want to create a different kind of zoo for them," he explains. Although the animals--like a giraffe, lion and flamingos--are made of paper and not able to move, they are all life-like.
Huang says that his goal has always been to give people a greater understanding of paper and realize that creativity and design can bring a lot of fun to life. He really hopes that Carton King can become a platform for not only practical paper products but also creative paper artworks. For a person who has worked with paper for so many years, he believes that this is the best thing he can do to promote this versatile material.
Left: The robot "A-lang" is the latest creation by Huang and his design
Right: This lampshade is made of heat-proof and flexible paper.
Huang Fan-liang (Carton King Theme Park)
2, Lane 2, DongShan Rd., Sec. 2, Beitun District, Taichung City (Dakeng branch)
Hours：10 am-9 pm open all year long