Posts tagged Taiwan
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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This Hotel Doubles as an Art Gallery

Art is at the heart of the Silks Club in Kaohsiung, where guests can see the work of over 200 artists before even leaving the hotel

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Originally a fishing village, the southern Taiwanese port city of Kaohsiung developed into a bustling, industrial shipping hub and is now moulding itself as a base for culture and creativity. case in point is the recently opened Silks Club hotel, where the work of over 200 artists is showcased in more unusual settings. ‘You can’t see this type of art anywhere else here, so when we opened it was a challenge locally. We decided to show all of the pieces without protective barriers so our visitors can enjoy the art and also learn to respect it,’ Shao Yaman, CEO of ALIEN Art Centre and curator of the Silks Club art collection explains.

The serene hotel showcases an intriguing melange of both emerging local artists and renowned international names, and most are inspired by the area’s local heritage. One of the most striking pieces is ART+COM Studios’ Dancing Particles, which takes pride of place in the lobby. The motion art sculpture features 168 metal spheres that float and dance above a pool of water, evoking the vital role water has played in the city’s identity.

Artworks appear throughout the hotel, from the spa and swimming pool to the lift lobby on each floor. On the 28th floor, for example, is Lunar Watch by Olafur Eliasson, which comprises twelve glass spheres that reflect a lunar cycle. In each guest room, a piece of purchasable art is also displayed. ‘We want to promote local artists and let our guests buy into a dream. We’re also building trust with our customers, since we have to trust them not to damage the artworks,’ Yaman explains. The sprawling top-floor presidential suite is full of oil paintings created by Yaman herself, as well as exquisite calligraphy written by the hotel’s founder.

Even the room size was inspired by their shared passion for art. ‘We made sure that each room is spacious so our guests have more room to interact with our art,’ Shao shares. The large rooms include Falomo mattresses, Kohler bathtubs and responsive design with natural materials such as pink marble and wood throughout.

The decor evokes a Japanese aesthetic that is echoed in the exquisite dining options, which includes the first bar outside of Japan from the famed Japanese sake brand Dassai as well as two UKAI TEI restaurants. Both the Grill Ukai Kaohsiung and Ukai-tei Teppanyaki restaurants were designed by interior designer Hashimoto Yukio, and are connected by a stunning spiral staircase. Given the hotel’s proximity to the harbour, the design team could ship the staircase in one piece and place into the hotel before building the restaurant around it.

Text / Babette Radclyffe-Thomas
Images / Courtesy of Silks Club


Look out for our Kaohsiung art and culture guide in the upcoming issue of Design Anthology

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A Quiet Place

Yangdesign created the minimalist Chiou House for a young, fuss-free couple

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In Taoyuan, Taiwan, an 84-square-metre apartment has been transformed into a minimalist’s monochrome dream.

‘The clients wanted a spacious and relaxed living area,” explains Wesson Yang, director of interior design firm Yangdesign. ‘The apartment already had a good structure that created an airy ambience, so we just readjusted the walls to create a more spacious and comfortable shared area,’ Yang says. These new wall partitions not only increase the flow of natural light into the apartment but also help to delineate private and public spaces.

Throughout the apartment, a no-fuss, grey and white colour scheme has been used, punctuated by brightly coloured art and furniture. Most of the furniture pieces in the home were sourced from B&B Italia, and the striking pendant in the dining area is Aim by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Flos. Laminated wood creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and the design team chose a complementary material and colour palette to draw attention away from the large construction beam that runs along the living room ceiling.

Text / Babette Radclyffe-Thomas
Images / Weimax Studio

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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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Sophisticated Minimalism

A residence in Taichung by RIS Interior Design achieves modern minimalism through materials

Taiwanese studio RIS Interior Design may fly a bit under the radar, but take note. Whether it’s a residential or commercial project, designed in a classic or contemporary style, the studio's portfolio reflects a subtle sense of sophistication achieved by few. Case in point: this cosy Taichung apartment. Nestled in a 20-storey building, this apartment underwent a four-month renovation to open up the floor plan for its newlywed residents. Though set amidst the hustle and bustle of urban life, the 130-square metre space immediately invokes a sense of tranquillity. Dark hues and an elegant material palette that combines wood and brass collude for a subdued atmosphere, while a few well-curated pieces of furniture populate the surroundings. Large windows invite natural light into the home, highlighting textures and contrasts.

In the living room, RIS chose to preserve the original stonewall and extend it to the entrance, creating an eye-catching, sculptural element. A minimalist approach continues through the dining area where shelving and cabinets with plaster effects have been methodically installed. Greenery and a Lindsey Adelman chandelier add beamish and organic touches to what might otherwise come across as an overtly masculine palette. Playing with limited materials gave the space strength and helped to strike a balance between dark and light, contemporary and classic, masculine and delicate.

Named ‘Cubic Cave’, this project was ‘modernised by minimalist means and suffused with deep tones that evoke the forest and wilderness’, explain the designers behind RIS, Jiun Huang and Hsin-Ting Weng. To enhance the space, the designers worked to accentuating the ‘cubic perspective’ .

‘In this apartment, the objective was really to achieve balance,’ say Huang and Weng. Shaped with clean lines, rich textures and fine detailing, this home proves that a restrained materials palette can make a strong statement.

Text / Karine Monié              Images / Hey!Cheese

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

Designer Q&A: Vicky Chen
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  Design Anthology spoke with Vicky Chen who oversaw the historic renovation of Tainan’s Hayashi Department Store, which dates from 1932 during the period of Japanese occupation. Today, this art deco beauty has reopened, resplendent in its original period detail  (including its then-state-of-the-art elevator!) and a product array and cultural calendar to complement it.

Design Anthology: My first visited to Hayashi was by pure happenstance, but I remember walking into the store and immediately being struck by how special every detail of it was and feeling that it was a very inspired project. Who drove the vision behind the restoration of the Hayashi Department Store?

Vicky Chen: Thank you, I’m so happy to hear you say that. The original intent of the project was to give back to society as we are a Tainan company, so it was a project born out of passion.

Was the local government instrumental as well? How did you work together on this project?

We took over the project after the government renovated the building, and we focused on the interiors and integration with society. But they are so thankful for our dedication to the project that every time we have an event the mayor will come to show support.

We wanted to build Hayashi to become the most famous attraction in Tainan. In a way, we are like a tourist envoy as we go around promoting the project and we must answer the question, ‘What is Tainan style?’ We want to discover different ways to explore and to answer that question. So when you come for the first time and even though it may be your first time in Tainan, you will think ‘Wow, this is Tainan!’ through the products, which together tell a story.

Thus, we work like a team with the government to promote the project because its success is good for Tainan.

But you get the sense from visiting Hayashi that this was a project that didn’t make sense economically. How do you justify it?

When we started the project, we never thought about profits. As a Tainan company, we wanted to give back to society, so we started the project anyway and were very devoted to this idea. To our surprise, in the end, it is profitable.

We hope that you’ll go back home and tell people your story of this discovery and how it made you feel!

What was your favourite part of the project?

What I love best is the people that we got to know through the project. We have an old staff member from the original days of Hayashi, for example, who is 93 years old now and he’s like our spokesman.  They are like walking history, and in Hayashi you really feel like you’re living with a part of that history. The humans are the most important factor of Hayashi. In order of importance, it’s humans first, then events, the building and then the products.

How do you develop your special products? Do you collaborate with craftspeople and artists?

There are a lot of traditional crafts industries in Tainan, like pottery for example. And the old craftspeople are hidden and we have to find them. So when we started, we thought about how we could modify old crafts to appeal to the modern market. It takes a lot of time to collaborate with the older generation craftspeople before both sides are happy with the final creation.

Do you plan to do a similar project elsewhere in Taiwan?

Well, Hayashi is not so easily copied, so it wouldn’t be possible to extend the brand. No matter where we go next, however, we’ll continue to combine the local characteristics with the business to develop something very special and unique.

For example, we currently are developing another project in the former Magistrate’s residence, also from the era of the Japanese occupation of Taiwan. The building is 150 years old and we have exhibition space, special products, a traditional restaurant and very special gardens.

Read more about the heritage of the Hayashi Department Store here and to keep up to date on its latest product offerings and events, see their page here.

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.

National Palace Museum Southern Branch

Taiwan’s famed National Palace Museum collection is expanding its exhibition space while adding an architectural element with its new Southern Branch location designed by KRIS YAO | ARTECH.

'As architects,' says Yao, 'we can aspire to grapple with a deep and vast world — the hidden, the ambiguous, the unspeakable aspects that belong to our cultural domain.'  This piece is a deeply moving meditation with one of the world's foremost architects on the importance of cultural sensitivity and Yao's own philosophical approach — called Tang Ao — to his profession.

 

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.’

Rising Stars

At this spring's Maison&Objet Asia, six young designers were recognised for their budding talent and growing contribution to an Asian design scene. In Issue 5, we featured excerpts taken from interviews with these young designers and are please to bring you the full, unabridged content of those interviews below.

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CHIHIRO TANAKA, JAPAN

Can you briefly describe your work?

My designs explore the multifarious expressions of light through an ongoing series of creative experiments that involve studying the properties of heat-resistant materials, repeatedly testing illumination-producing electric bulbs for permeability and glare, and giving form to unique ideas in a way that resembles a couturier’s draping technique. By using the same process employed in haute couture dressmaking — first study the materials and then design the product — my ‘light couture’ is a study in intimate interactions of light and materials.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

It’s not just the illumination of space that I hope people experience; I want to bring a sense of harmony to people and their feelings through light. Whether switched on or off, a lighting fixture is an important design element of any space and a conspicuous part of daily life. I want to help create refined and inspirational spaces in which to spend relaxing and inspirational time.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer? 

I dreamt of becoming a designer since childhood because I loved drawing and

playing with tiles from my father’s workshop.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

I have a fairly extensive knowledge of fashion and textile design and like to research newly developed

materials. All materials, from yarn to metal, stimulate my curiosity.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

The techniques of experienced craftsmen. I am always impressed by their technical prowess when I visit a factory. These people are always searching for ways to bring out the very best of their skills.

Can you name your top three influences?

Techniques of craftsmen; Family; Japan’s distinctive four seasons

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

I am currently trying to link people closely together and respond to the Japanese sense of aestheticism. I am trying to find light that draws up closely and embrace people, and am making new lighting equipment that brings harmony to the everyday scenery of people’s lives.

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EASE, THAILAND

Can you briefly describe your work?

We are an embroidery design studio based in Bangkok, combining industrial embroidery, art and craftsmanship to create experimental designs that bridge traditional techniques with new, experimental forms. We hope to create new experiences of textile art and embroidered products.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

We recreate ordinary yet meaningful objects that reflect our everyday lives. By observing and exploring things that surround us, we seek to integrate emotional value into our products. We hope that people will realise how much design can be a part of their lives.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

We like to create new experiences of textile art and products by bridge traditional technique with experimental new technique.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

If we have a very short time - talking, eating and drinking.

If we have a short time - go to the museum, events and exhibitions.

If we have a long time – traveling

Can you name your top three influences?

Our families; Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec; Atelier 2+

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary? 

We want to contribute to the development of our country on the world stage through art and design.

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

A new collaboration called 'Issaraphap' (Issaraphap is Thai meaning ‘Independent’)

We hope to bridge Thai culture values to contemporary design by challenging the conventional creation of objects through industrial processes, as well as to tell Thai stories through design objects that maintain the character of materials, production and local creativity.

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KIMU DESIGN, TAIWAN

Can you briefly describe your work?

In our latest New Old Light, it is the contrasting qualities of peaceful and dynamic that sets KIMU on its journey to discovering new soul in old living objects. The traditional form and function of an oriental paper lantern meets with Western design aesthetics and is transformed into a beautiful new shape for the modern-day lifestyle.

The deconstruction and reinterpretation of a cultural imagery can also be seen in The New Old Vase when it disassociates itself from having an inherent volume, leaving only a linear structure that blurs the distinct personalities between the East and West.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

Besides being poetic in bridging conflicting elements, our designs also allow plenty of room for the user’s imagination and interaction thanks to their playful setups. Even though the creative balance of form and function is essential, every product is only truly complete when it is being used and loved in everyday life.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer? 

Ketty realised when she was a child but Kelly and Alex only realised after graduation from the college of Industry design department.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

We use primarily wood, paper and metal in our designs. These materials are nostalgic, while also relating for people the warm feeling of being touched.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

We love ancient culture and museums a lot.

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary? 

KIMU pop-up shops all over the world.

Working with craftsmen from different countries.

Seeing people use KIMU designs in their homes.

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

Our aim is to complete the KIMU New Old Collection, so we’ll keep designing mirrors, clocks and side tables to launch later this year.

Image 4 (needs to be mirrored)

Image 4 (needs to be mirrored)

LAB DE STU, AUSTRALIA

Can you briefly describe your work?

LAB DE STU is a design collective based out of Australia representing three designers — Adam Lynch, Dale Hardiman and André Hnatojko. Thus, the work produced by LAB DE STU is quite diverse due to the variety of interests we each have in design.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

The particular typologies we explore tend to be fairly static and are used throughout commercial spaces, therefore can be somewhat forgotten. We can only hope that people notice our work within these spaces. The difference between the commercial and non-commercial output of LAB DE STU is that we’re producing objects for a particular purpose and space. The non-commercial works seek to explore unknown territory.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer? 

I’m not sure if there was any particular defining point for any of us to immediately decide to be a designer. André had previously studied interior design and decided to change to furniture, Adam had studied woodwork throughout secondary education and Dale had no interest in design until beginning university after not first getting into fine arts.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

We tend to work across all materials as we do not want to be restricted to only a single medium. We are constantly learning by working with new materials and their processes. There may be a particular material we seem to keep revisiting in our commercial pieces and that tends to be the availability of that material or process with manufacturing in Australia.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

We like to believe we draw inspiration from everyday life, but a more direct inspiration would be from visiting factories and building relationships with those who make our objects. Due to the limitations of manufacturing in Australia, we explore simple forms with achievable outcomes so that we aren’t just producing high-end products.

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary? 

That's such an incredibly difficult question to answer, as the further our practices develop, the more areas and disciplines we find ourselves attracted too. It’d be fairly selfish to say ‘design a product for a major furniture and lighting brand’, so a dream project would most likely be to be given a budget to produce editioned works for a major gallery without commercial constraints.

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

LAB DE STU is not just a company that produces objects. As a collective it represents three different designers, all with varying interests. We also run exhibitions through 1-OK CLUB, Dowel Jones is having its first solo exhibition next month and together we are planning on a potential retail front.

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Image 5

LEKKER ARCHITECTS, SINGAPORE

Can you briefly describe your work?

We are a small, inter-disciplinary design studio based in architecture. We work on a wide range of project types from residential and institutional buildings to landscapes, interiors, events and project furniture. We have a special focus on design for children and families.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

We always hope that our projects will promote a sense of playfulness and surprise. Our work is intended to contrast those kinds of architecture that take themselves too seriously and are too prescriptive in telling users how to occupy or experience the space. In designing for children, we have learned to relax and to enjoy the unexpected and imaginative ways in which our users inhabit our works; in many ways we think of their contribution as the second half of the design process.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer? 

For Josh, it was in high school. He became very interested in avant-garde architects (mainly postmodernists) who believed that architecture could shape and influence human social experiences. There was a comic book called Mr. X about a masked designer who invented ‘psychotecture’— a way that certain forms could make people think and feel different things. This seemed too exciting to pass up.

Shing became interested in architecture in college. She had been studying math and art history, and was most attracted to learning about buildings. Like Josh, she was very interested in the way that architecture could affect human emotions and interactions.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

Our material is space, basically. There are many physical materials in architecture — we like concrete and timber in particular — but these really all serve to create a larger environment. It’s the latter that makes architecture unique from other art forms, and gives it a special impact. We like space because it can only be partially controlled; no matter how accurately we model or visualise our project, there are surprises. Space seems to have a will of its own, like a co-designer, and brings with it moods and emotive atmospheres that feel larger than our design ideas could ever be.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

Honestly, most of our inspiration is drawn from outside design. We are influenced by cartoons, food, dreams and music. Much of our process, at the early stages, has to do with translating creative ideas into architecture from a different medium. For example, we are very interested in the way that Brian Eno layers sounds in his songs; the ideas behind his method have been recorded in a card game called Oblique Strategies. We have been trying to develop an architectural equivalent for years. It hasn’t happened yet, but we are still trying!

Can you name your top three influences?

Tom & Jerry, Charles Mingus, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary? 

Probably a church or a mosque — we have always been especially interested in religious and ‘transformative’ spaces because they distil very intense human emotions in a single building.

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

This year is interesting for us because it seems to be a return to houses. We are working on planning two inter-generational family homes here in Singapore. This is very interesting because it somewhat resembles an Asian family compound with up to four separate wings or generations of one lineage in a single building. It’s both an old and a new type, given that it’s being re-born in the dense Asian cities of today where real estate is expensive and space is limited. The new version hasn’t been developed yet, but it has elements of the house and something larger, like a small hotel, resort or dormitory. This is a really interesting thing for us to explore, and it’s very close to home — we live in an inter-generational home ourselves.

Image 6 (needs to be mirrored)

Image 6 (needs to be mirrored)

STANLEY RUIZ, PHILIPPINES

Can you briefly describe your work?

My work is a poetic attempt at expressing form and function in material terms.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

I hope that when people encounter my work, they will experience the sublime.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer? 

It was during my sophomore year in art school when I realised the practicality and necessity of design.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

I like the material to be open to exploration and manipulation.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

Experimental, global folk, punk, and noise music have been constant sources of inspiration.

Can you name your top three influences?

Andrea Branzi – his work is poetry in 3D

Campana Brothers - for their original and distinct expression

Movement 8 - the group of Filipino designers who were able to break through the international design scene and paved the way for younger designers like myself

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary? 

Designing my live/work space in a lush tropical landscape overlooking the sea (or the city, at least).

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

A sculptural piece for a hotel restaurant, new lighting and home product design for the upcoming Manila FAME show and an exhibition in New York, among others.

Kimu Q&A

Design Anthology recently sat down with Kelly Lin, one of the young designers that make up Taipei-based Kimu, to find out more about how they work and how they came to join forces to become one of the city’s most talented up-and-coming design studios.  

Design Anthology: Does the name Kimu have a meaning?

Kelly Lin: Yes. So Kimu is derived from the Chinese words Qi and Mu, meaning ‘seven’ and ‘wood’. Between the names of the founders we have seven of the ‘wood’ (木) characters. It can be difficult to explain to foreigners!

How many people are in your studio?

I am one of three designers in the studio. We each come up with ideas and then we decide which one to produce. Maybe this time it will be mine, the next time from one of the others. We vote! But we always finish each product together as a team.

How did the three of you meet?

We all met at Taiwan Designer’s week! Ketty Shih and I designed something very similar, so we were both curious who it was that designed the other product. The next year we met and realised who the other was. It was two years later that we decided to start a business. We wanted to create jobs for ourselves that we would always want to do, and never quit.

Who designed the light fixtures — the New Old Light series — and how did the design come about?

That one is mine. We realised no one else in Taipei was really doing lighting. We had been experimenting with other forms for a while, but they always looked ugly! Then we came up with a prototype and took it to London for an exhibition. People seemed interested. We weren’t really sure if we could go into mass production though.

How did you create the prototype?

It was only two years after graduating, and we didn’t really know how to work with the factories. We were soon invited to show at an exhibition in Germany and we were thinking we would sell the design to a company, just like we were seeing other designers do. So we thought we should try to take this into mass production. We had to slightly change the shape to be able to produce it. Originally the prototype was in plastic, but now it is produced in powder-coated aluminium.

When did you first realise you wanted to be a designer?

I think it was when I was in college. Our designer Ketty knew much younger — her high school majored in art, but not mine. Alex Yeh and I studied at Cheng Kung University.

What did you study?

Industrial design. But in my second year I considered giving it up because I was interested in psychology and biology. And at that time I was quite confused because I didn’t think my work was very good. But I continued and my graduate work won the Red Dot Best of the Best prize, so I thought I could continue.

 

 

Rising Stars

At this spring's Maison&Objet Asia, six young designers were recognised for their budding talent and growing contribution to an Asian design scene. In Issue 5, we featured excerpts taken from interviews with these young designers and are please to bring you the full, unabridged content of those interviews below.

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ABIE ABDILLAH OF STUDIO HIJI, INDONESIA

Can you briefly describe your work?

I was trained as an industrial designer back when I was studying at  Institut Teknologi Bandung. I mainly focus on furniture design, working primarily with responsibly sourced material that is commonly found in Indonesia; I especially like to work with rattan material.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

I hope that people can experience the true nature of rattan as an interesting material and to feel the craftsmanship in my creation, which cherishes our strong heritage as a craft nation.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer?

It was when I was still a student at the university. I realised that there was an opportunity to take my profession in a direction for a good cause and that I could make something worthwhile for my surroundings.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

First of all, I am grateful to be Indonesian. We are blessed with an abundance of natural material, not to mention the handiwork of craftsmen.I found rattan interesting because more than 80% of global supply comes from Indonesia, yet for decades I have barely seen any improvement on design and development with the material. Trained as an industrial designer at Institut Teknologi Bandung, I saw this as an opportunity to be able to bring a contemporary look to a materials considered classic and traditional.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

It varies from fond childhood memories to certain craftsman skills that I see to even the technique of production. I am inspired by my surroundings. Everything I see has the potential to inspire me and could be the start of a new creation, from nature to the everyday things that I might find.

Mostly I am inspired by the true natural character of the materials that I use. I use rattan the most, so the pliable, lightweight yet strong character is often a source of inspiration to create something.

Can you name your top three influences?

Yuzuru Yamakawa, Imam Buchori Zainuddin and Joshua Simandjuntak

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary?

I would love to have been able to have had the expertise that I have now around 50-70 years ago when rattan and wicker were considered an important material. I cannot imagine the experience of being able to work with and among the many prominent designers who were working with it during this period, like Nanna Ditzel, Arne Jacobsen, Franco Albini and Giovanni Travasa.

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

I am now focusing on expanding my brand, working toward new collections and also trying to promote rattan more to the world communities.

 

 MONICA TSANG OF MONICA TSANG DESIGNS, HONG KONG

Can you briefly describe your work?

My style is strange, bold and rich in poetic flavour. Maybe I was born with this style. My Chinese name is Tsang Ka Ki, which is quite common, but the last character ‘Ki’ means strange in Chinese and refers to the very dramatic circumstances surrounding my birth. I am not a conventional person and I am willing to challenge the rules.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

I hope people will remember my work; I hope that it will connect with their feelings, make them laugh and inspire them.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer?

How can I become a designer? I would say that a love for art just flows through my blood. Since I was little, drawing and paintings have always been my favourite hobbies; however, these leisure activities didn’t bring much happiness to me during my childhood. In that time, I was studying in a conventional school that attached importance to students’ academic performance. Teachers and parents always insisted that a student should perform well in his/her examinations. Therefore, nobody would think that a love for art plays a vital part in students’ development.When I had a science class about Jupiter and Mars, I could not remember how they related to the solar system, but it was their beauty which caught my eyes. When I had a math class, I could not figure out how to complete a calculation, but the numbers told me their gender, like 5 represented a boy and 8 was a girl. Perhaps I was not the apple of my teacher’s eye but I did not care. My soul and body would break apart when I had to learn something, and it was only when I was drawing and able to let loose my imagination that my soul and body would come together. So undoubtedly I would choose a career which could make use of my imagination.Additionally, I am crazy about aesthetic objects. So as a designer here today, speaking about designing ceramic is very natural for me because the concept of home is very important to me.The most enjoyable moments for me are mealtimes with my family. And good food must be provided with exquisite utensils. Thus, my first successful ceramic designs were to match food with containers, which earned me a Red Dot Award. Afterwards, I spent more time designing ceramics, and I was able to win the Young Design Talent Award and then I received a scholarship to complete a two-year master’s programme in ceramics in the UK.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

The more I get to know ceramics, the more I love ceramics. I feel very lucky to do what I like to do and to make it my career. The most distinguishing difference or the most interesting thing about ceramics is its unpredictability. There are several steps in making a ceramic, like grouting and firing, but only when you open the kiln and retrieve the finished product can you call it a success. Due to its unpredictability, ceramic is a material that gives me the impulse to touch it when I see it. That is quite romantic to me. Plastics and steel are material that make you feel icy, plus, they can be easily made by computers.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

My philosophy is ‘Live your life with your heart, inspire your heart by your life’. As long as ordinary things like a photo, a verse of rhyme, the scent of flowers, spicy food, a movie or a hug can provide me with different feelings, I happily embrace these as inspirations. Indeed, I am fond of beautiful things. But I am also curious about the truth behind beautiful things, and I am obsessed with unusual things. I believed that every single item, whether alive or not, can tell us a story. So I like antiques and specimens.Speaking of an innovative spirit, I do not necessarily remind myself of it every day. I love making progress in my life and adapting to changes, and as we go along, sometimes we do not notice it, but we have improved a lot. For example, when you have a chance encounter with someone that you had deeply loved and you realise that s/he is unfamiliar to you the reason is that you have changed. Individuals are always moving forward and meeting different people.

Can you name your top three influences?

I love travelling because I can meet people with various cultural backgrounds. I also like keeping a little distance from other travellers because I like to keep a sense of mystery, and this can also be a source of inspiration.

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary?

I want to work for El Bulli

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

I am working for five star hotel The South Beach in Singapore.

 

GUSTAVO MAGGIO OF OUTOFSTOCK DESIGN, SINGAPORE 

Can you briefly describe your work?

We approach every project with the intention to find the most genuine and relevant means by which to improve a product or experience in the simplest possible way.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

Whether it is a product, space or experience, we hope our designs will have the potential of improving the lives of many people.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer?

Since I was young, maybe 6-7 years old, I liked to invent and create things. I never planned to become a designer, just to have the tools to create new and interesting things.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

We like to work with the material that best suits each project. Natural materials like wood are our preference, but we are open to many others.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

Our travels and experiences in different cultures are a constant feed to our creativity.

Can you name your top three influences?

Nature, culture and crafts

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary?

One that has the potential to improve many people’s life, be it a product, space or experience.

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

We are currently working on a rug collection inspired by nature, some new furniture pieces, an exhibition on one of the masters of Japanese design and some other projects.

 

HANSHI CHEN OF POETIC LAB, TAIWAN

Can you briefly describe your work?

Our work is a fine mix of emotional sensations and logical considerations. Just like we describe ourselves as Poetic Lab, the concepts of ‘poetic’ and ‘lab’ represent these two characteristics very well.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

We expect people to be surprised by our works at first sight, not just because of the aesthetic, but because they have never seen anything like it before. And after the initial surprise people can take time to appreciate the logical side of the work, and this understanding will bring them closer to our design.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer?

I think it was when I was 12, while our family refurbished the house. We hired a construction team instead of a designer, and it was then that I first discovered how much fun it could be, and that my imagination could become reality.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

We don’t work with one particular material and our projects have quite different starting points. Sometime they are more material driven and sometimes not. I think the material which all our projects share in common is our imagination.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

I enjoy reading a lot. I read all kinds of books, sometimes design-related and sometimes not at all. New inspiration is born between the lines.

Can you name your top three influences?

Visual references also trigger a lot of imagination for me--magazines, movies, exhibitions and photography. I have fallen in love with Pinterest recently.

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary?

Our dream project is the one that just popped into my head last week while showering and I still feel something after a week. And that is the dream project that I can’t wait to start working on.

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

We are working on some furniture projects with clients in Europe, including our Bamboo Forest collection, and we are hoping they can be presented at Salone del Mobile 2016. There are some Asian clients starting to approach us recently, and maybe something interesting will happen there.

We also put a lot of emphasis on our own design label, Beyond Object. We have a lot of design proposals under evaluation and some of them will be in production in the latter half of this year.

 

PARK WONMIN OF STUDIO WONMIN PARK, SOUTH KOREA

Can you briefly describe your work?

My work is something that should be able to speak by itself. My design is something that should be able to speak with its surroundings. And even though it may sound obvious, my work should be beautiful and attractive. These ideals are brought together in my work.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

In my work I embrace simplicity, purity and subtlety to arouse delicate sensations and emotions from the people who experience my designs. I always try to put some emotion in the objects that I create.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer?

I studied architecture before starting my design career. While working in the architecture field I notice that I was much more interested in design, and decided to become a designer.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

I'm working with Resin, which was the best material to realise my concept and aesthetics on to the object.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

Nature always provides good inspiration, always changing and never be the same. I am always amazed by nature.

Can you name your top three influences?

Nature, books and museums

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary?

Now my profession is a designer, but at the same time, this is my hobby as well. I'm very happy when I see my objects. I want to do this for long time. I want to enjoy what I'm doing, always doing something fresh. I want to design many different objects with something meaningful.

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

I am preparing for a solo show in Paris with Carpenters Workshop Gallery and preparing for an exhibition at Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Paris and Milano EXPO 2015.

I am also working on an installation project for the opening ceremony of a fashion store at Le Bon Marché in Paris. I am working with several brands and with various subjects there.

 

ZHANG ZHOUJIE OF ZHANG ZHOUJIE DIGITAL LAB & ENDLESS FORM INDUSTRIAL, CHINA

Can you briefly describe your work?

My work is about exploring the possibilities in a digital world. How is artificial intelligence involved in the future design? This chair, for example, is more like a concept — it represents the future design style.

Is there something in particular that you hope people will experience through your work?

My work ultimately contains a digital language, like triangle and logic, which could be the trend of a digital future. The diversity and the perfection in the morphology is my work. These are what I hope to share with audiences.

When did you first realise you wanted to become a designer?

In 2006 when I was working in a design company and my first work was launched in the market, I felt that I had become a real designer-- my knowledge had been used after I studied.

What is it you like about working with your particular material?

The strangeness of the metal can represent my digital languages, especially the legs of the chair. Also metal is easier to produce and a strong material, so it’s a good moulding material, and metal,itself, is beautiful.

Where do you draw inspiration from outside of design?

My design philosophy is from traditional Chinese philosophy, and I read a lot about biological evolution. Nature is the most beautiful and strongest creator.

Can you name your top three influences?

Chinese traditional philosophy, evolution and mobile internet thinking.

What’s a dream project-either real or imaginary?

My work could be like a creature, which can evolve itself and influence each other. Through many peoples’ selections, it will evolve into a beautiful object with outstanding genes.

What’s in the pipeline, what are you working on now?

I am attempting to combine computer software and hardware to create some interactive stuff to discuss the possibilities between humans and computers. More precisely, I am looking to create a method that is suitable for computer’s intelligence to finish some product design.

At the same time, I am working on some other projects, so 2015 will be a very important year for me. Hopefully, it will bring some quite surprising new works.