De­sign On A Mis­sion

De­signer Bryan Le­ung high­lights Tai­wan’s man­u­fac­tur­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties with the launch of his lux­ury brand La­jos

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Tai­wanese lux­ury home­wares brand LA­JOS made its de­but at Mai­son & Ob­jet 2018 with Ves­sel, an oil dif­fuser whose form is in­formed by an­cient Chi­nese vases. Made of nat­u­ral vol­canic stone and hand-pol­ished stain­less steel, the piece also high­lights Tai­wanese man­u­fac­tur­ing prow­ess dis­tin­guished by ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and smaller pro­duc­tion runs, and sus­tained qual­ity. The launch of Ves­sel fol­lows on from LA­JOS’ suc­cess with Me­mento, a set of stain­less steel and ti­ta­nium sta­tionery ob­jects and house­hold tools that has won top honors at the Golden Pin De­sign Award in Tai­wan, and the A’ De­sign Award in Italy. Port­fo­lio spoke with Mr. Le­ung to talk about Tai­wan’s con­tem­po­rary de­sign cul­ture.

Tell us more about the con­cept be­hind Ves­sel.

We de­signed Ves­sel to be used in an of­fice or per­haps a read­ing room or home li­brary. With its see-through cen­ter, it’s de­signed to blend into a space, un­like tra­di­tional dif­fusers, that are typ­i­cally very jar­ring, aes­thet­i­cally. The shape is in­spired by the tra­di­tional forms of an­cient Chi­nese vases, and in fact, the fra­grance that the dif­fuser emits when in use re­sem­bles the re­lax­ing scent of a vase full of flow­ers.

What led you to study de­sign?

I’m at­tracted to the way in which de­sign can dis­till an emo­tional con­nec­tion into an ob­ject. Though de­sign wasn’t that pop­u­lar in Tai­wan at the time I was study­ing it, I was drawn to the strate­gic and psy­cho­log­i­cal as­pects of the field. I was driven to build a com­pany that en­abled me to help peo­ple, and I felt that de­sign gave me the power to achieve that goal. I also sim­ply love to cre­ate.

What led you to set up your stu­dio?

Many de­sign com­pa­nies in Tai­wan are run in a sim­i­lar way; they fo­cus on sim­ply land­ing a job with a client and don’t fo­cus on the psy­chol­ogy be­hind the work. That’s a prob­lem be­cause then the client won’t un­der­stand what the goals of the part­ner­ship are. That’s why I founded LA­JOS; I’m in­ter­ested in en­sur­ing we are de­liv­er­ing clients what they need as well as what they want. Tai­wan doesn’t re­ally have any lead­ing lux­ury life­style brands. We have multi­na­tional com­pa­nies like Gi­ant and HTC, but they are mainly in the tech­nol­ogy sec­tor. But what Tai­wan does have is a pro­fes­sional, well-de­vel­oped man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor. What we hope to do through LA­JOS is build a global lux­ury life­style brand that takes ad­van­tage of Tai­wan’s unique man­u­fac­tur­ing ecosys­tem.

What kind of prod­ucts epit­o­mize the LA­JOS name?

LA­JOS aims to help peo­ple to live their best lives by creat­ing beau­ti­ful ver­sions of ev­ery­day prod­ucts. We re­ally want peo­ple to en­joy their lives and we be­lieve their ex­pe­ri­ences with the ob­jects around them mat­ters. I want to cre­ate prod­ucts that take peo­ple on a jour­ney in the same way that din­ers ex­pe­ri­ence a tast­ing menu at a Miche­lin starred restau­rant. We also hope to move into pri­vate de­sign, where we cre­ate per­son­al­ized ob­jects for an in­di­vid­ual client. This ser­vice is rare in Tai­wan right now, but we be­lieve there is a lot of po­ten­tial be­cause of the so­phis­ti­cated man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor.

What does be­ing a Tai­wanese de­signer mean to you?

De­sign­ers in Tai­wan are lucky in that they have easy ac­cess to a wide va­ri­ety of man­u­fac­tur­ing pro­cesses, and the own­ers of these busi­nesses are open to ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, whether there is a mon­e­tary ben­e­fit in it for them or not. This com­bined with Tai­wan’s in­creas­ingly mul­ti­cul­tural so­ci­ety with its mix­ture of cul­tural in­flu­ences–indige­nous Tai­wanese, Chi­nese, Ja­panese, and now in­flu­ences from South­east Asian na­tions–cre­ates a unique set of in­gre­di­ents that LA­JOS can draw from.



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