Your coffee this morning may have come from Brazil, your furniture possibly from Sweden, and maybe your shoes were made in Italy. But, have you ever wondered — what do you own that came from Taiwan? Chances are not much yet, but that may soon be about to change as a new generation of Taiwanese designers is hoping to share their innovative designs with an international audience. Here are five emerging brands from Taiwan to look out for.
Made in Taiwan: 100%
Homer Concept is a brand that specialises in multifunctional wooden furniture. As urbanisation brings more and more people into the city, living spaces also seem to get more and more minuscule — effectively challenging the creativity of its dwellers to make the most of a small space with the use of transformable furniture. Homer Concept caters to this specific need, while still ensuring that aesthetic standards stay high. Their Stack Stool, for example, is a stool that can also be used as a chair, a side table, coffee table, work desk, and even a ladder when stacked strategically. This company was awarded the HKDA Asia Design Awards in 2009, and also the Golden Pin Design Award (Best Design) in 2011. Also referred to as ‘functional artwork’ by Homer Concept founder and designer Elvis Chang, these furniture pieces serve as living art in your home.
Made in Taiwan: 100%
Celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year since its opening in 2004, Satana is a lifestyle brand that specialises in fashion — particularly bags and purses. They pride themselves in their attention to detail and also the quality of their products; they also boost local pride, because everything they produce has been made completely in Taiwan. It’s not hard to see why though, as their dedication and passion for perfecting their craft really shows in their work. What sets the brand apart from others is perhaps their thoughtful consideration of the little things that give each of their products a unique identity and edge. For example, embossed on the inside of one of their wallet designs is a cheeky little reminder to think before you spend (with that line appropriately placed just in front of the slip where your credit card might be placed). Clever, and also ironic — as buying that wallet in the first place would have set you back US$3,600 in the first place.
Made in Taiwan: 100%
Although only established in 2008, this vintage bicycle brand looks like something that could fit right in with a black-and-white movie. Sense30 was the brainchild of three bicycle lovers — Issa, Joe, and Sihow. The brand is dedicated to creating not only unique and beautiful bicycles, but also focuses on functionality and quality as well in their designs. All of the products are handmade in Taiwan and this sentimental dedication truly reflects the vintage feel in all the things that they produce (which is not just bicycles). In addition to bicycles, Sense30 also provides riding accessories such as gloves and sunglasses. Bicycles will always be at the heart of their business though.
Made in Taiwan: Most Products
Dot Design’s story is rather interesting because, in addition to being a graphic design studio, they also began producing products under their own brand in 2011. This history is reflected in the creativity of their products, which are all rather simple, but also quite clever. The brand is dedicated to preserving Taiwan’s traditional craft industries and combines innovative new designs with age-old craftsmanship using materials such as bamboo and ceramics. Their Green Bamboo Chopsticks and Spoon Flatware Set is a great example of mixing the old with the new. The portable utensil sets are great for travellers who want to be more eco-friendly and find a more natural alternative to using disposable plastic cutlery. The Rice Bowl Series is also quite lovely. The simple yet delicate design of the bowls are inspired by the popular rice culture in Taiwan and its appearance and imprint throughout the series actually show the process of making rice — so it’s not only pleasant to look at but educational too.
Made in Taiwan: Some Products
The name of this brand, JIA, actually translates to ‘home’ in Chinese — and in Chinese culture, food makes up a big part of home. A crash course in the Chinese character jia (家) for those who may not already know: the character is actually made up of two parts and is composed of a pig (豕) under a roof (宀). As reflected in the history of its written language, the idea of a happy home in Chinese culture has long included the idea of dining together. That is why JIA Inc.’s products are firmly rooted in this tradition. However, the they also believe in incorporating universal and global design elements and regularly collaborates with international designers as well. This approach results in some beautiful creations. JIA Inc.’s recent collaboration involved working with Japanese designer Masayuki Kurokawa to create a rice bowl and chopsticks inspired by nature. The unique ends of the chopsticks are based on twigs.