Located inside the Carton King Creativity Park, in Taichung City, Taiwan, the Carton Restaurant is a unique eatery where everything from the furnishings, to the decorations and even the plates are made from corrugated cardboard.
Unless you’ve actually been to Taichung, I assure you haven’t seen anything like the Carton King Restaurant before. Except for the food, the waiters and some cutlery, everything inside this place is made from cardboard and paper. It seems almost impossible, but you actually sit on cardboard chairs, sip drinks from cardboard cans, and eat your food out of cardboard bowls at a cardboard table. The food is pretty average, according to the reviews I’ve read, a bit on the pricey side, but that’s to be expected considering the amazing venue it’s served in. What’s great about this place is the recycling potential. In case anything breaks or becomes damaged, it’s simply recycled. That was actually the point of the whole Carton King Creativity Park, to show the real power of paper and cardboard, and convince people it can be used for a lot more than generic packaging.
The brain behind this amazing Taiwan attraction is Huang Fang-liang, founder and general manager of Chin Tang Paperware. After graduating from high school in Taichung County, he spent a few years working for paper and printing companies in around Taiwan to learn about industry. In 1984, he returned to his hometown of Taichung to set up his own workshop. Huang knew a small startup would be no match for the large companies manufacturing commercial and industrial paper products or for the older paper mills in Taiwan that dominated the market for craft and handmade paper, so he decided to give paper and cardboard packaging a try. This was also a very competitive sector, so he decided to focus on unique packaging items. ”Those who had been in the trade a long time said to me that they had seen more paper items than the number of grains of rice I had eaten,” Huang says. “They told me paper products were only good for printing, drawing and wiping up messes. I wanted to use paper in the same way as plastic or wood is used to create dimensional packaging, but to them it was pretty much a joke.” But while it took him longer to create his special kind of packaging than conventional ones, the ambitious entrepreneur made his customers happy and slowly built a reputation for his small business. With his creative outside the box thinking, Huang Fang-liang became the go-to man in the packaging trade, and Chin Tang Paperware one of the most respected companies in Taiwan. In 2007 he built the Carton King Creativity Park just to show the world what could be done with underrated materials like cardboard and paper.
And just in case you’re afraid those carton chairs are to frail for your Rubensian physique, here’s what Xue Sheng-yi, deputy general manager of Chin Tang Paperware, has to say about that: ”People often wonder if the tables or chairs are going to fall apart. We bring out our chef, who weighs more than 100 kilograms, to sit on a chair. Then one of the waiters sits on his lap. After that, there aren’t any more questions about how strong they are.”