One of the best parts of my job is discovering new and emerging artists who are pushing the boundaries on design and adapting to modern times to create functional and useful products. A win-win for me, every time, is bringing a piece into my home that is both aesthetically striking and promotes efficient functionality, and right now Taiwan is brimming with talented designers doing exactly that.
The island of Taiwan is seeing a surge in innovative designers who are producing highly styled, high-tech products and designs that reflect their country’s culture and boundless creativity. To showcase this new era of design and manufacturing, 10 Taiwanese designers, selected by national design organization Taiwan Design Center, are heading to NY NOW in August exhibiting as FRESH TAIWAN. All 10 designers are unique in their own ways, but they all perfectly reflect the development of Taiwan’s cultural and creative industry while making everyday objects that are beautiful and useful. Form and function united across the board in design — from coffee-making products, to chic office supplies, to homewares and even jewelry — what’s better than that? —Kelli
HMM‘s product designer Nigel Liu is a coffee enthusiast and self-described daily life improvement guru, so it’s only fitting that one of his earliest design products was a coffee mug called Mugr. The sleek form casts a gorgeous silhouette that is both classic and simple, while HMM’s signature wood-ceramic bonding brings forth an earthy vibe. Nigel and team also amplify the beauty of functionality of everyday tasks by paying close attention to routine office needs: specifically writing tools. Both the Ballpoint and Slide designs, new for HMM this year, create a terrifically satisfying and comfortable writing tool with keeping high-quality design top of mind. These writing tools would be the perfect motivator for a day stacked with to-dos.
[ bi.du.haev ]
For us design-savvy folks, having items in our home that can double as decor when not in use are of supreme value. For design company [bi.du.haev], that concept is elevated to the next level by designer Iron Wang, who cares deeply about the visual balance of materials and the prioritization of practical functions. Another coffee fanatic, Wang meticulously refined the coffee-making experience through his Cold Brew System and Pour Over Coffee Dripper — two products that garnered awards and espouse [bi.du.haev]’s motto of “No More Less.” Always in search of the best and most aesthetically pleasing system for daily living, [bi.du.haev]’s next great invention, the TIPA Tea Set Deluxe, would be a breathtakingly gorgeous addition to a tea-lover’s day-to-day ritual.
Design brand Studio Lim, founded by designer duo Yun-Ting Lin and Patricia Lip, blends Yin-Ting and Patricia’s reverence for the environment in which they were born and their pursuit of highly designed, sustainable products. Their home wares are made of natural materials and plant fibers, which results in a product that is both lightweight and beautifully unique. Take, for instance, their newly released Fibrewood Objects Trays (in both long and round shapes): a harmonious melange of beechwood, flax fiber, scrap wood and lacquer results in an object that can act as a standalone design piece or a daily workhorse for corralling keys, jewelry, and other small items. We’re also partial to Studio Lim’s Dessert Plates, which would surely make any treat even more special.
PARSEC Design Studio
PARSEC Design Studio was founded in 2015 as a response to the over-saturation of technology in modern society. Founder David Hsu wanted to remind people to feel and connect with the spirit of nature again — a call to action we can get behind. His interpretation of this idea came forth through products like the Treether Long Wallet and Treether Namecard Case, both of which feature the warmth of wood in a flexible yet durable way. We especially love how the Treether products develop a lovely worn-in quality as they’re used more and more, taking on a new and fitting look as they’re perfectly reflective of PARSEC’s mission to pay homage to natural forms.
As a parent, I know how little hands are always grasping for new textures and shapes, and the more unique the toy, the higher chance a child will connect with it and further their motor development. Eguchi Toys Designer and Founder Kentaro Eguchi creates high-quality wooden toys that challenge the capability of a child’s hands, all through clever innovation. There’s no doubt that his thoughtful designs are rooted in his background of working with a Montessori School in some capacity since 1999, and the toys he creates are nothing short of remarkable. Some of the vividly colored toys include a sweet wooden pelican mobile, wooden puzzles featuring a reindeer, polar bear, or warrior, and a pull-string wooden music box.
Founded by Sean Chen and Lotta Tu in 2015, DAQI Concept produces a very cool product: an aesthetically pleasing device that is both a wireless audio player and ambient light source. Sean’s background in the electronics industry and passion for innovation combines seamlessly with the skills of Lotta Tu — who brings forth a love of lifestyle products as well as her own electronics background. Called “JinGoo,” which translates to the melodious singing of orioles in ancient Chinese poems, the device looks like a bird cage and uses energy-saving LED lamps, has a subwoofer in the base, and passes sound through a ceramic bird perched inside the cage. We imagine it would create quite the relaxing experience while being beautiful to look at!
Ray Teng Pai of Singular Concept has spent his product design career in a wide range of fields: from home appliances, to fashion accessories, to industrial electronics and even medical equipment. This vast knowledge of parts and forms has resulted in works that are at once sleek and industrial yet opulent and precious. His PRISM Accessory Set is elegant and minimal, appearing almost like a contemporary art piece more than jewelry. Just as beautiful, his Junction product — designed as a desktop organizer or even tabletop piece to hold cut flowers — is both rooted aesthetically in machinery yet appears like a high-end rose gold perfume bottle in some angles. “The idea came from the pumping valves, drainage pipes that are hidden in the corners of train terminals and abandoned factories,” — an example of how Ray’s multidisciplinary work takes his inspiration found in unlikely places and pays that inspiration forward.
Hanhsi Chen is the founder and design director behind the brand Beyond Object, which creates and distributes desktop products, accessories and home accessories globally. His works merge together simplicity, innovation, function and quality, and each product is simple and unfussy while being striking and forward-thinking in the same breath. The Cantili Tape Dispenser, for example, is such an eye-catching, sculptural piece that it would probably never catch a bystander as an actual tape dispenser. This artistic translation of everyday objects is the kind of work that wins awards and accolades, and Hanhsi has plenty of those to show for himself.
Yenchen & Yawen
Ya Wen Chou and Yen Chen Chang form Yenchen & Yawen, a studio that makes handcrafted objects by taking unorthodox materials and manipulating them in traditional ways. Ya Wen’s background is in textile design mixed media with a special interest in raw materials; her talent was recognized just one year out of college when she was asked to collaborate with Anthropologie on their hardware line. Yen Chen’s studies and passions reflect product design and his interest in how people interact with objects. This pairing of ideals makes for an exquisite collection of homeware, bespoke hardware, and jewelry, my favorite of which is their Landscape of Oxidation collection. The duo’s experimentation with these materials resulted in a wide range of patina on these products, and they’re simply breathtaking.
Magi-Steel designer Moore John was born in Burma and always dreamed of being a designer. After moving to Taiwan when he was 15, Moore continued to pursue his passion for design. Fast-forward to today, and he now has a brand of steel products including sunglasses, accessories and jewelry. All products, made by Sheet Steel in Taiwan, are lightweight, flexible, durable and comfortable to wear, all while showcasing incredibly intricate detailing. Some of Magi-Steel’s pieces, like the butterfly necklaces, look like they were plucked right from nature.