Home Guide DESIGN GUIDE TO TAIPEI: PHOEBE LOVATT AND OLIVIA LOPEZ

DESIGN GUIDE TO TAIPEI: PHOEBE LOVATT AND OLIVIA LOPEZ

by husnain

DESIGN

Envision the cityscape of Taipei, and…well, you probably can’t. The Taiwanese capital doesn’t offer the soaring skyscrapers of Hong Kong, or the famed neon skyline of Shanghai. It isn’t famed for its historic quarters like Hanoi, or globally renowned for its landmarks like Mumbai. But that’s not to say that when it comes to art, architecture and style, Taipei doesn’t boast some serious aesthetic credentials. There’s a reason it’s the World Design Capital 2016. Instagram would be the perfect platform to share those beautiful moments from your trip. If you would like to have a bigger audience buy instagram followers.

Taipei Architecture

Several reasons, actually. Noticeably more tranquil than many Asian capitals, Taipei is a city of quiet, tree-lined streets set against a backdrop of dense, green mountains and the famous Taipei 101 (until recently, the tallest building in the world). Eschewing the fast-paced lifestyle of Tokyo and Seoul, Taipei has instead chosen to embrace its own unique brand of ‘slow living’, resulting in a city brimming with laid-back coffee shops, artisan-driven design stores and museums celebrating its dynamic domestic art scene.

As part of The Taipei Exchange – the week-long cultural exchange programme co-hosted by my business The WW Club (a platform dedicated to inspiring, connecting and educating women in creative industries worldwide) with SUITCASE Magazine and The W Taipei – I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days exploring the city alongside Olivia Lopez, founder of travel website Lust for Life. As a fellow nomad and longtime supporter of The WW Club, Olivia was the first person who sprang to mind when I began searching for a successful woman who might appreciate exploring the cultural fabric of a new city as much as I do.

Luckily, my hunch was correct. As we navigated Taipei together, Olivia and I found ourselves totally charmed by both the unaffected warmth of its citizens and the subtle sophistication of its lifestyle. We couldn’t help but comment upon the parts of Taipei that evoked other places we’ve been around the world: Olivia noted that the lush streets of Minsheng reminded her of Mexico City’s hip Condesa neighbourhood, while I recalled the winding streets of Tokyo’s Daikanyama every time we turned another tranquil corner.

That’s not to say Taipei feels like a patchwork of other places: we both agreed it was quite unlike anywhere we’d been before. In fact, the influences of Taiwan’s complicated past (it was previously occupied by the Japanese and is still officially claimed by the Republic of China) only seem to enrich a city that is rightly coming to the forefront on its own terms. Should you be lucky enough to pay a visit, here are some of the places I recommend seeking out.

The Good Design Institute Cafe

A cafe-slash-boutique-slash exhibition space, run by a Taipei and Beijing-based design firm in the hip Yongkang district of Taipei. The elegant aesthetics of this tranquil space make for respite from Taipei’s hot and humid streets. Mix yourself a Hong Kong tea from a trayful of Instagram-friendly beakers and make use of the free wifi and relaxed vibe to catch up on emails. You can also pick up chic homeware and miscellanea from a regularly-changing curation of local and international designers.

  • +866 223 620 723
  •  Go to Website
  • 1F No.22 Lane 48
    Wenzhou St.

Fujin Tree 353 by Simple Kaffa

A relaxed coffee shop in the leafy MinSheng district, that makes up one of local entrepreneur Jay Wu’s flourishing Fujin Tree empire of restaurants, stores and cafes.

With its charming side streets and array of classy boutiques and restaurants (most of which are also run by this cafe’s owner, Jay Wu) the elegant MinSheng area is definitely worth a visit. Fujintree 353 offers the best coffee I tried in Taipei, and its open-front design makes it perfect for people-watching. Try Fujin Tree Taiwanese Cuisine & Champagne for incredible local dishes served in a design setting. 

  • +886 227 495 225
  •  Go to Website
  • No. 353 Fujin Street
    Songshan

Sunset Store

Taipei’s first design concept store, opened by the super-cool Leslie Sun (who also happened to be one of our panellists for The Taipei Exchange).Having lived in LA for many years, Leslie is now back in her hometown and spearheading a more design-centric approach to Taipei living. Located on a quiet backstreet, Sunset offers a beautiful curation of goods from around the world, as well as high-quality coffee, beer and chocolate i.e. all the essential things in life. Go browse and sit in the garden out back – if you’re lucky you might just run into Leslie herself (tell her we said hi!)

  • +886 287 801 710
  •  Go to Website
  • No. 157, Lane 417
    Guangfu S Rd
    Xinyi District

Taipei Fine Arts Museum

Taiwan’s first dedicated modern art museum, which shows a range of domestic and international works in a futuristic cubist structure. Admission is super-cheap and the exhibition curation is interesting – when we went, there was a floor dedicated to the London-based architect Patrick Heatherwick as well as an expansive selection of Taiwanese photography and art.

  • +886 225 957 656
  •  Go to Website
  • No. 181, Section 3
    Zhongshan N Rd
    Zhongshan District

Mano Select

A studio and retail space dedicated to showcasing the handmade work of craftspeople from around the world, run by Taiwanese jewellery-makers Min-Ling Hsieh and Yu-Chun Chen. Merging the Taiwanese word ‘man’ (meaning slow) with the Spanish word ‘mano’ (meaning hand) Mano Select exemplifies the culture of ‘slow living’ in Taipei. In recent years, the city has really embraced a simple and refined way of life – a huge contrast to the intensity of Hong Kong – and spaces like Mano Select celebrate the shift.

  • +886 223 225 601
  •  Go to Website
  • No.18 Shaoxing S. St
    ZhongZheng District

Songshan Cultural and Creative Park

Housed in an old tobacco factory, Songshan is a space dedicated to nurturing the creative arts in Taipei with various exhibition halls, galleries and small shops. It’s a hub of activity and you’ll find hip young Taiwanese creatives hanging here on the weekend. Check out The Songyan Gallery shop for design-led souvenirs, the Taipei design museum and the Yue Yue bookshop. It’s also home to the five-storey Eslite Spectrum store with a food court, DIY floor and bookshop – well worth a visit.

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