Taiwan is a world market leader in the design sector. And it looks set to gain even wider recognition since the opening in 2013 of the third Red Dot Design Museum in Taipei after Essen and Singapore.Taiwan Designers’ Week, which is held each October, is also attracting increasing international attention. The outstanding creative potential of this Far Eastern nation was clearly evident to us at Ambiente in our encounters with Taiwanese exhibitors and product designers.
Asian design has fascinated the West for centuries and has made an unquestionably strong contribution to the development of modern design. Not only does Taiwan have a Chinese cultural tradition stretching back several thousand years, since the beginning of the 20th century the culture has been enriched initially with Japanese and latterly increasingly with Western influences. This combination certainly helps the ‘tiger economy of the Western Pacific’ leave a clear mark on today’s international design stage. At the international trade fair we encountered a fascinatingly diverse range of attractive and harmonious everyday objects created by young designers that demonstrated a successful fusion of tradition and modernity.
Clean lines on the table
At the Trend Show we discovered ‘Mu’, a simple porcelain tea and coffee service collection for everyday use, presented by the designers from Toast. We were intrigued by the matt finish of the products, which imitates the grain of wood. You immediately feel compelled to pick them up and feel the texture of the surface. The designers from Lohas Pottery have made use of very much more traditional forms and finishes, as demonstrated by their award-winning ‘Zen’ travel tea set series. The rounded, compact design of the fire-red ceramic set contrasts with the much cooler and angular grey cups and vases from the ‘Well-Rounded Octagon’ series, which we saw at the stand of the Biaugust Creation Office. Both product ranges create clean and elegant lines on the table.
At the Studio Loud stand we found handmade interior products that employ classic bamboo-working techniques. The combination of modern design ideas with time-honoured Taiwanese handicrafts certainly piqued our curiosity. Among the products created by the studio we found reinterpretations of traditional objects normally made from this classic Asian construction material. For example, the basic concept of the ‘Begin’ stool takes its inspiration from traditional bamboo weaving, as can be seen from the hexagonal woven structure of the perforated seat surface. Designers transform their favourite material into new and unusual shapes by heating and bending. A variety of products, including mirrors and lamps, are created – often in combination with other materials. Some display austere, clean lines while others are really playful.
Lighting – mix or minimal
Material mix was a theme we also found at the stands of other Taiwanese designers. ‘The New Old Life Project’ of the Kimu Design Studio has given rise to a hybrid series of lamps. According to the designers, people often only ‘half-make’ things. Because of the amount of choice on offer, modern city dwellers too often settle for compromise. This interesting take on modern society has resulted in a combination of new and old in these multifaceted lamps. The paper part of the ‘New Old Table Light’ is clearly based on traditional Chinese lanterns, whereas its metal shell is reminiscent of Western classic modern design. There were, however, more lightweight, minimalist products on show. Founded in 2014, the Singular Concept Studio designs LED aluminium lamps that create 3D linear highlights in the room. Once you’ve viewed it from all sides, you’ll see why it’s popular not just with fans of minimalist designs.
Fun animal furniture
The living room has become home to dachshunds, ponies – and even water buffaloes. These amusing furniture animals from Biaugust give a fun feel to any room. They come on finely turned legs and are upholstered with all types of handcrafted materials. Whether they’re functional or not, we’d certainly be happy to have any of these animals move in with us. The monochrome black Animal Collection series is very chic and although it may look a bit more serious than the colourful version, we still couldn’t help smiling when we saw it. During our tour of the fair it was clear that Taiwanese design is setting interesting trends and we are already looking forward to lots of new discoveries at the coming fair.