Posts tagged Taipei
A Live-Work Unit Inspired by European Art history

Bold colours reign supreme in CHI-TORCH’s new space in Taipei

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In Taiwan’s capital city, the founders of CHI-TORCH interior design have transformed a 40-year old, 40-square-metre apartment into their new office and living space. Chloe Kao and Ciro Liu took their design cues from the hotel room that they stayed in during their honeymoon in Europe, which coincided with Liu being awarded a design prize at a ceremony they attended on the same trip.

The idea was that the couple’s new working and living space should evoke the aesthetics, emotions and memories of that milestone trip. Overall, the design is inspired by the rich history of European classical art. At the centre of the communal area, a pop of fuchsia stands out among the bold blues that envelope the rest of the space, interspersed with mustard and gold accents. According to Kao, the colour combination was selected to reflect the rational, innovative, calm and passionate qualities that a designer should have.

The spatial layout caters to the dual need for privacy and interconnectedness, and demarcations between the studio and private areas come in the form of movable glass and mirror partitions. An abundance of natural light brightens the dark-hued space, creating a lively and bold atmosphere that befits a creative studio and its founders’ home.

Text / Babette Radclyffe-Thomas
Images / FineStudio

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Staff Only

This speakeasy-style bar in Taipei is a clandestine affair, and offers much more than just a good cocktail

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Tucked away amongst the industrial buildings on Shuiyuan road in one of Taipei’s last remaining military villages is a bare white door topped by a small sign. ‘Staff Only’, it declares. To the uninitiated, this appears to be nothing more than a discreet staff entrance (in fact, it was once the back entrance to a soy sauce factory, the building’s original tenant for more than half a century). But if you’re in the know, then you’ve been let in on the city’s newest little secret. With a tap of your membership card, the word ‘club’ appears in soft white light and the lock slides open. Welcome to Staff Only Club.

This members-only club was founded by a team of young creatives ­­— all making names for themselves within Taiwan’s design, art and culinary scenes — who wanted to bring together the city’s like-minded set in a curated and design-led space that offered something different from the city’s existing after-dark establishments.

The designers from ECRU Design Studio, also behind a number of Taipei’s best-looking spots, looked to the understated glamour of the 1950 and 60s Art Deco clubhouses. From the street-level entrance, a narrow and dimly lit staircase leads up to a sensuous mise en scène: glass windows on one side of the bar rise up to meet the gable ceiling, while on the other, gold-framed windows overlook plush green velvet seating against dusty-pink walls. Folding glass doors line the wall facing the bar, their textural qualities and amber accents reminiscent of the vessels, bottles and liquids just opposite, behind the terrazzo bar. This terrazzo also features underfoot, and was handmade by the team using the traditional grindstone technique, which is gradually becoming obsolete in Taiwan. Throughout, lush materials like velvet, corduroy and baroque textiles combine with copper accents and objects (all from Tainan’s The Undercurrent Objects), glass and eucalyptus wood panelling, which clads the original vaulted ceiling.

Head bartender Connor Lin understands, though, that a bar is only as good as the libations on offer. He’s conceived a cocktail menu to complement the interior, and the knowledgeable and convivial bartenders lend a sense of familiarity that enhances the club’s ‘exclusive’ appeal. The menus themselves also add to the charm: they’re customised vintage pull-out books (hunted down specifically for this purpose), and listed on their pages are concoctions influenced by Asian flavours, classics with a twist and a selection of sophisticated bar food from chef Theo Hsiao, who’s previous post was at Taipei’s Michelin-starred Mume.

When all of these elements combine, the result is an atmosphere where it’s hard to answer ‘One more?’ with anything other than ‘Yes, please.’

Text / Simone Schultz
Images / Kuomin Lee

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Boutique-Style Living

In this Taiwan apartment, Ganna Design rose to the challenge of maximising every square metre

The 76-square-metre apartment is on the eighth floor of a newly built structure in Taipei. It’s home to a couple, both 35 years old; he works in the tech industry and she used to work in fashion design. Both of them have a great sense of style.

When the owners came to Ganna Design, their brief was clear: They asked for a home that would feel like a boutique hotel and would consist of a single room (instead of the three original seperate areas) with all the living spaces, public and private, in one compound. ‘In this project, the spatial arrangement is based on the concept of “continuous action”,’ the designers explain. Walls were removed to provide a better sense of flow, and to invite dwellers to move fluidly through the entire space.

While rethinking the layout, the Ganna Design team had to take into account the owners’ furniture collection in order to make sure every piece would stand out. Neutral colours such as white — which, in addition to providing flexibility for changing the furnishings, also maximises natural light — and black were chosen for the backdrop. In the kitchen especially, this palette creates contrast and confers a sophisticated look befitting the boutique-style theme. In the entrance, the bevelled ceiling — shaped into a triangle to conceal the air conditioning unit — echoes the motifs on the flooring. Behind a gold-plated titanium wall are a small bathroom and a shoe cabinet. ‘This wall is the most eye-catching element in the apartment,’ the design team says. ‘It not only brings out the avant-garde style of the home, but it also reflects the owners’ taste and uniqueness.’

The main area comprises the living and dining rooms and an open kitchen. The wooden floor radiates outwards in a zigzag pattern, and the slabs of white marble adds a surprising touch in the section leading to the bedroom. The key pieces of furniture in the living room are the comfortable blue Bend-Sofa by Patricia Urquiola and the blue Serie Up 2000 armchair by Gaetano Pesce, both from B&B Italia. Ganna Design easily convinced the owners to incorporate mouldings on the ceiling in order to balance the large beam that runs above one side of the dining room, which is adorned with the Cloud 19 ceiling lamp by Apparatus and several Series 7™ chairs designed by Arne Jacobsen for Fritz Hansen. Sleek and chic, the dark kitchen by Leicht adds drama to the space.

Connected to the common area by a floor-to-ceiling swivel door — that can be fully opened or closed, depending on the level of privacy required — the bedroom features a headboard that is both functional and stylish, with the owner’s hat collection displayed on removable hooks. Behind a glass door, the walk-in closet leads to the elegant bathroom, furnished with a white bathtub and grey furnishings.

Despite its somewhat modest size, this apartment is airy and bright. The curated selection of furniture, the considered spatial organisation and a few daring colour choices were the perfect ingredients for shaping this contemporary home with a young spirit.

Text / Karine Monié
Images / Siew Shien Sam/MWphotoinc

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Alone Together

Humans are social creatures, but we all need somewhere to retreat to — even more so in a metropolis where space is limited

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With this is mind, Shihhwa Hung and Phoebe Wen of PhoebeSaysWow Architects Ltd. set out to turn this 33-square-metre micro-apartment in Taipei into a prototype of minimalist, gender-neutral living.

When Hung and Wen imagine the individual who might call this apartment home, they imagine someone who appreciates the spatial quality — the niches that allow the individual to feel alone even when they’re not — and makes use of it for social gatherings, for which it’s surprisingly well-equipped despite its petite proportions.

The double-height space has been divided into three levels. From the entry level, a moveable staircase leads up to the mezzanine bedroom, while a set of bench steps leads down to the multipurpose kitchen and dining area and the bathroom. Aside from serving their obvious purpose, the ladder and stairs play an important function in the home’s social layout: they also act as multilevel seating areas. While not your average entertainment setup, according to the designers, ‘the three-dimensional levels of seating encourage a dynamic conversation within the apartment’.

The designers formulated an effective visual language by employing two contrasting and complementary materials: birch wood and glazed tiles with cherry-pink grout. ‘The idea is to minimise the use of material to create a wider and continuous view,’ they explain.

Birch features most prominently in the floor-to-ceiling shelving unit — set along the entire left side of the apartment — that consists of bookshelves, kitchen cabinets and, on the upper level, wardrobes.

The kitchen, dining and bathroom areas received a similar treatment, although here a delightful hue of cherry pink has been cross-hatched on the surfaces.

Staying true to the narrative of ‘sometimes solitary, sometimes social’, the birch was chosen to imbue a sense of warmth and comfort, while the pink and white tiling is intended to lift the spirits and declutter the mind.

This apartment, at once private and inviting, and playful yet understated, is an exciting indicator of what smart urban living could look like.

Text / Simone Schultz
Images / Hey!Cheese

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S Hotel

At the centre of Taipei’s business district, every inch of S Hotel bears the signature eclecticism and playfulness of French designer Philippe Starck. Tribal thrones are paired with contemporary leather furnishings against a technicolour backdrop of bespoke carpets and overhead artworks by local Cha-Ray Chu. The beaded necklace motif throughout hints to the hotel’s origins: a gift to Chinese celebrity Barbie Hsu (nicknamed Big S) from her husband as a token of affection far grander than any piece of jewellery.

One Bold Sweep

With an unconventional layout and painstakingly detailed, KC Home in Taipei pays homage to Chinese traditions

The typical Taiwanese home favours formal order and symmetry, believed in Chinese spatial traditions to bring balance and harmony. So when designers Shih-Jie Lin and Ting-Liang Chen of Ganna Design saw the creative potential of breaking the mould, they were at first unsure if Taiwanese clients would welcome their unconventional take. Luckily, Jay and Candy Kuan were impressed, and commissioned the young design duo to reconfigure their Taipei apartment. Inspired by Taiwan's Cloud Gate Dance Theater’s production Cursive, with choreography inspired by Chinese calligraphy, Lin and Chen sought to achieve in space what the dancers brought in movement — to demonstrate the beauty of the Chinese character ‘永’.

The Chinese character 永 encompasses horizontal, vertical, leftward and rightward strokes, but also the break, hook, bend and slant techniques of calligraphy; it is said to be the true test of a calligrapher’s skill. In Cloud Gate’s dance, the character is embodied through a show of strength, vigour and dynamism balanced by grace, beauty and equilibrium.

Looking to translate these same qualities into a spatial composition, Ganna Design reconfigured the Kuan's originally two-hall, three-bedroom apartment. In its new inception, the residence embraces all of 永’s curves, angles and corners, including the final downstroke expressed in the form of a curved wall that sweeps at a diagonal across the living areas. The designers point out that in this layout, the need for a corridor is eliminated, allowing the floor area to be reclaimed as part of the main living spaces while adding to a sense of spaciousness.

‘This isn’t the first time we’ve introduced a diagonal wall in a space,’ explain the designers. ‘In this project, though, we’ve tested its potential further by letting it double as a storage wall and a room divider.’

The bespoke interior architecture also includes an unusual TV wall with integrated storage. Custom-made with different grill patterns, the TV feature wall is rendered in moody, dark tones that calm and recess, visually. This helps to reduce any sense of busyness and complexity in the space. A light-coloured timber veneer is applied to the curved wall, behind which more storage space is accommodated.

While the overall design is playful with a sense of experimentation, traces of culture and tradition can be found in the details — in the perfect geometry of a red circle on the bathroom wall or in the lattice patterns in the wardrobes and bookcases. The designers share that the lattice, whose pattern is developed from the guiding grids of calligraphy paper, is designed to serve as a unifying element that ties together the disparate styles and moods throughout.

KC Home is strong in concept and daring in its undertaking. Its spirit of adapting and reinterpreting tradition can be seen in the choice of furnishing, too. For example, Daniel Rybakken’s Counterbalance lamp, poised over the dining table, harks back to the dynamic equilibrium first explored in the 永-inspired layout. In Studio Job’s Paper Chandelier and in the Parentesi lamp designed by the masters Achille Castiglioni and Pio Manzù, homage is paid to tradition, with a healthy dose of innovative experimentation

Text / Yvonne Xu

citizenM Taipei North Gate

European budget-friendly hotel chain citizenM has opened its first property in Asia with citizenM Taipei North Gate. Designed with the young urban mobile traveller in mind (‘M’ = mobile), citizenM aims to provide all the necessary luxuries without the superfluous. Rooms are compact but well-designed with a focus on good bathrooms and comfortable beds, and the lounge and restaurant are open all hours of the day. Located in Taipei’s historic quarter, citizenM is an ideal base for a quick trip to Taiwan’s capital.

Home Hotel

A new hotel in the Da'an District of Taipei offers guests an immersive experience in the local design scene. By maintaining a 90 per cent quota of locally designed products, Home Hotel aims to introduce guests to the local creative scene, while also supporting emerging talent by not only purchasing products,but also commissioning custom designs and helping to finance the expensive and time-consuming prototyping process.

Pon Ding

A chance encounter four years ago at a Bangkok design fair between Japanese designer Yoichi Nakamuta and married couple Indonesian industrial designer Kenyon Yeh and Taiwanese publisher Yichiu Chen led to opening this spring of Taipei's newest cultural hotspot. Pon Ding is a cafe, independent bookstore, gallery and event space all rolled into one. 'It's more of a casual art museum, a creative institution,’ says Chen of the space.

Oyster Bar

The Fujin Tree lifestyle brand helped put the Songshan District of Taiwan on the map with its charming tree-lined residential streets dotted with parks and community gardens, and its proliferation of  lifestyle boutiques, shops and cafes. Now the group is expanding with yet another stylish location in their latest venture Oyster Bar.

A Sense of Permanency

Interior designer Alexi Robinson brings understated luxury with a touch of Scandinavia to this The 250-square-metre flat overlooking the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in the cosmopolitan Xinyi District of Taipei.

‘Taiwan is a particularly interesting context to explore,’ says the designer. ‘There’s the interplay of Chinese and Japanese cultures, a vibrant urban, art and design scene, and the option of stunning mountain scenery. Taipei seems to be migrating onto the international stage as a visionary design city. There’s a great collection of contemporary art galleries and I suspect much more to uncover in the creative landscape.’