The ubiquitous “Made in Taiwan” label is turning over a new, greener leaf. Taipei, the 2016 World Design Capital, kicked off the country’s 2016 Creative Expo this week with a showcase of hundreds of innovative products by local designers across three venues. We took a closer look at the designs at Songshan Cultural and Creative Park—a former tobacco factory that was turned into a park—to seek out gorgeous products that combined sustainable principles with cultural sensitivity. Keep reading to see our favorite eco-friendly picks by emerging Taiwanese designers.
Taiwan is home to one of the world’s highest rates of scooter ownership and, as a result, produces an incredible amount of scooter and motorbike-related waste. In a bid to reduce landfill waste and bring attention to recycling, designer Chin Yang founded MOXOR, a company that upcycles old scooter seat cushions into handmade leather wallets, purses, and chairs.
When Taiwanese designer Ai Su Bonnier and her husband Adam Bonnier became parents, they wanted to create a safe and healthy product with a long lifecycle to match their child’s growth. Thus, they created Miniware, a tableware line made from 100% heat-pressed natural and non-toxic bamboo fiber powder. Set atop a smart suction foot made from certified food-grade silicone, the lightweight and stylish bowls come in a variety of colors and sizes.
Zhusan-based Acousdea created Bamboom, a tiny and portable bamboo speaker with a surprisingly loud and dynamic sound. Made of locally sourced Taiwanese Moso bamboo, the handcrafted 5-centimeter-tall Bamboom speaker weighs less than 100 grams and is equipped with built-in Bluetooth technology.
The word ‘marble’ may conjure up images of heavy and hard rock slabs, but what if there was a way to rework marble into a more flexible and portable medium? That’s exactly what BLACKTAIL achieved in the “Filing Collection,” a line of wallets, purses, and bags made from recycled marble waste powder that they transformed into fabric. Each handmade, one-of-a-kind purse retains the natural gradient and rough textures of the marble powders.
The leaves of the shell ginger plant are most commonly used to wrap 粽子 (zongzi), a traditional Chinese food made of glutinous rice and other fillings, but Tainan-based Kuo Chih Chia has found another purpose for the common Taiwanese plant. In his company Yamakawa Design, Chia weaves the underused and renewable plant material into a series of beautiful chair tops, chairs, and modern chandeliers.
Prolific Taiwanese creative firm Balance Wu Design showcased SOWOOD, a collection of cork products designed to promote an eco-friendly lifestyle. Cork is a renewable and versatile resource harvested once every nine years without harm to the tree. SOWOOD shows off cork’s versatility with a wide array of fully recyclable products, from notebooks to planters.
If you’re turned off by LEDs because of their harsh and cold light quality, Xcellent’s beautiful lamps may have what it takes to change your mind. The innovative lighting company created a line of LED lamps that scatters the light with light boards to create a bright, but softer glow that’s easier on the eyes. Xcellent also marries the energy efficient technology with beautiful design, from adorable animal lamps to replicas of iconic Taiwanese landmarks, all of which are charged from a USB socket and come with a touch dimmer and switch.
Tainan-based Pinyen Creative puts a contemporary spin on local Taiwanese culture in their products designed for everyday use. One such example can be seen in the Hemera Bamboo Lamp, a hanging bird’s nest-inspired lamp, made from bamboo woven using traditional techniques.
Sean Chen of DAQI CONCEPT created JinGoo, an enchanting lamp that combines LEDs, music, and sculpture into a beautiful design. Crafted to evoke the appearance of a caged songbird, JinGoo is made of locally sourced Taiwanese materials and comprises an energy-saving LED bulb cradled inside a Yingge-crafted ceramic body; a Taiwan Acacia timber base; a handmade metal cage; and bluetooth speakers. For an early bird special on the JinGoo, head over to their Indiegogo Campaign.
Images © Lucy Wang