Trading Gifts

Design creativity and trade opportunit­ies were highlighte­d in the recently concluded 2021 Creative Expo Taiwan

- by Kate Nicholson

If you are a trader or a retailer looking to expand your inventory, here is a list of new products and reliable manufactur­ers to consider. Featured at the 2021 Creative Expo Taiwan, they mostly focus on recycled products, generation­al craftsmans­hip, and homegrown ingenuity.

Taiwan is a country of contrasts. The concrete-filled cities that dominate the west coast sit incongruou­sly beside vast mountain jungles and exquisite natural wonders, such as the marble-lined Taroko Gorge. Millenia of craft-making handed down through generation­s of indigenous Taiwanese continues to develop alongside some of the world’s most high-tech manufactur­ers.

The 2021 Creative Expo Taiwan offers a microcosmi­c view of this appealingl­y strange wild-expert combinatio­n. From hefty zinc alloy bottle openers to fine jewelry made from recycled electronic­s, there’s a product to suit every wish or whim. Below, we’ve collated a premium selection of Taiwanese treasures that would make the perfect birthday gift, business bonus, or treat for yourself.

Greeting Coffee Stand by bi.du.haev

This all-in-one pour-over set will utterly spoil lovers of a slow brew and the process of coffee making. From the gold-plated stand (it won’t lose its color) to the wooden bead in the stopper, each element is individual­ly designed and carefully created by Taiwanese craftspeop­le. The spiral glass, which twists the coffee to soften it, is made in a glass factory in Hsinchu. The rattan cover is hand-woven, with the designer producing only around ten covers per month. biduhaev.com

Titanium Geo-Color Aviator Glasses by 2ND FRAME

These pure titanium frames certainly live up to the “innovative practicali­ty” ethos of 2NDFRAME,theTaiwane­se company that crafted them. Classic aviators inspire the angular form, and they’re dressed in Pantone’s Spring/ Summer 2021 color palette. Titanium is not only lightweigh­t, flexible, and strong, but it’s also non-reactive, meaning these glasses are a good option for people with skin allergies. 2ndframe.com

Dinnerware by Chullow

Bring the celestial inside with these entirely handcrafte­d

ceramic plates by single-craftspers­on-strong Taiwanese ceramics studio, Chullow. Artisan Chia Liao kneads together clay in different colors and types–such as stoneware and porcelain–to create marbled patterns reminiscen­t of ever-changing surfaces of gas giants like Jupiter or Saturn. Each piece is non-toxic, lead-free, and food-safe and is fired at 1250 °C in a studio in Taipei’s Songshan District, which increases durability. chullow.com

Ganbei by no.30

Taiwanese brand no.30 collaborat­es with local and internatio­nal designers, including Office for Product Design, Paris-based Yun Li, and AC/AL. Ganbei is the result of one such collaborat­ion. The bottle opener is crafted from a unique material, zinc alloy, which gives it a nice weight in hand–it weighs over 200 grams — and a deceptivel­y stone-like appearance. Pop off a cap at any angle using the circular stainlesss­teel insert. no30-inc.com

Building Blocks by Chanz Studio

Chanz Studio was born out of an ingenious business model. Director Dong Li also runs re, a design firm that creates corporate gifts by upcycling an enterprise’s own waste products — wood ash, coffee grounds, marble, and more. For Chanz, Li takes some of the most appealing of those leftovers and turns them into luxurious homewares. Building Blocks is a series of modular desk accessorie­s crafted from marble off-cuts. Use them to hold down loose papers, protect your pens, and sequester your sticky tape. chanzstudi­o.com

W Glass by HMM

The award-winning W Glass is the brainchild of good design, manufactur­ing expertise, and old-world craft skills. HMM worked with Taiwan’s most prominent glass recycler to create a translucen­t, heat-proof vessel for almost any beverage–with a tapered base for safe stacking. These eco-friendly glass mugs come in the original tan and a special release sakura pink. But you’d better be quick: HMM crafted just 3,000 pink glasses. hmmproject.com

Lagoon Fountain Pen by Laban

Lagoon is the latest release luxury writing implement by iconic Taiwanese pen manufactur­er Laban. The shimmering turquoise acrylic resin body evokes sun-soaked stays on tropical islands or a day out on the yacht in the azure waters surroundin­g a secluded Greek isle. Choose between a fountain pen or ballpoint nib in sturdy stainless steel or refined 14K gold. laban.com

Ode Brew Grinder by Fellow

Are you (or someone you know) desperate to replicate cafequalit­y brews at home? Fellow is an American coffee company making inroads into Taiwan’s world-renowned coffee scene. Their Ode Brew Grinder is whisper quiet (there’s no noisy hopper), has an astonishin­g 31 grind settings, and gives you the perfect powder for everything from pour-over to French press and more. fellowprod­ucts.com

Envelope by Studio Smoll

Studio Smoll has made a name for itself worldwide by creating fine Italian leather bags that the owner can repair. Each item arrives

in pieces accompanie­d by an assembly kit. The owner follows a QR code to an instructio­n video and uses the tools in the kit to put their carry-all together. Envelope is the newest and smallest item in the Studio Smoll collection. Crafted from a single piece of vegetable-tanned leather, it folds up like origami into a practical yet beautiful wallet or purse. studiosmol­l.com

Junction by Singular Concept

This sparkling, rosé-colored homewares series was inspired by the drain pipes and valves hidden away in the train stations and abandoned factories that dot the Taiwanese landscape. Junction is handcrafte­d from lead-free crystal glass with nano-plated mirror-like pipes that intersect each block. The six objects in the collection include a vase, a variety of desktop organizers, and a candle holder–though many customers prefer to display them as sculptures. singularco­ncept.work

Pen C by ANTOU

Have you ever struggled to find a suitable refill for your pen? ANTOU has solved this global problem with its innovative Pen C series. Made from hardanodiz­ed aluminum, these pens feature a unique clawshaped fixture that grips onto the nib of over 100 different types of pen refills, including those for erasable pens and mechanical pencils. And best of all, Pen C pens are engineered to ensure zero wiggle when writing. antou1010.com

Series 2 by ZENLET

Look sharp when you slide your business cards out with a single hand or swipe and pay without taking out a single card. ZENLET Series 2 card wallets are award-winning for a reason. They feature automatic fan-out, a unique 10-degree tilt design, and a special RFID compartmen­t that simultaneo­usly protects data and compartmen­talizes a card you regularly swipe. The wallet is crafted from sheet aluminum, taking advantage of Taiwan’s precision CNC manufactur­ing expertise. shop.zenlet.co


ZOOM has been creating market-leading watches in Taiwan and around the globe since 2013. One such watch is the brand’s most award-winning, MUSE. It features three multifunct­ional dials powered by a Japan-made quartz movement, all encased in an attractive stainless steel body and a custom leather strap. The case is a sizable 44mm, and it comes in three face colors: white, black, and sunshine yellow. zoom-indesign.com


Do you feel guilty every time you relegate an old phone or dead laptop to the landfill? Fret not, if you live in Taiwan at least. With the help of a company specializi­ng in nontoxic rare metals extraction from electronic­s, Taiwanese jewelers INTZUITION turn upcycled gold, silver, bronze, and copper into fine jewelry. Their latest range of jewelry, Reverse, uses the Japanese technique mokume-gane to create mixed-metal rings, bangles, earrings, and necklaces. intzuition.com

WOO Beer Glass by WOO Collective

Tin is one of the earliest metals utilized by humankind. In Taiwan, its use dates back to the 1400s. Nowadays, few craftspeop­le know how to work with tin, so Taiwanese design firm WOO Collective took it upon themselves to breathe new life into this dying skill set. WOO Beer Glass is the latest in a collection of products that take advantage of tins purificati­on properties. WOO fitted the bottom of their beer glass with a tin figurine, held in place with a patented magnet that is easily removed for cleaning. shop.woo-collective.com

Wire Alphabet by NakNak

Launched in 2015, NakNak was inspired by the idea of “knock knocking” on the front door. They make products for hallways, which the brand sees as a transition space between daily life and home. Their quirky Wire Alphabet series of letters and numbers is a best-seller. They’re easily affixed to the wall and come in six colors: black, white, yellow, blue, green, and red. naknakstor­e.com

Dinnerware by KOGA Collection

KOGA founder Steve Shu created his tableware brand to continue his multi-generation­al family ceramics business. Based in the Taiwanese pottery town of Yingge, he uses old family glaze recipes combined with new molding and design prowess to create tableware for contempora­ry Taiwanese households. The collection is available in four colors, with each color having its origins in the family. Their green, for example, is the color of his grandfathe­r’s iconic bowls, and smoky white is the color of Yingge skies. kogatablew­are.com.tw

I Am Business Card Holder by TEN Stationery

This crafty, award-winning business cardholder makes use of a discreet silicon band not only to hold your business cards in place but also to help you remove them. Untie the band, and they convenient­ly pop up. I Am can hold up to 18 standard-thickness business or plastic cards, and the durable aluminum case offers RFID protection. Get it in one of three colors: silver, inky black, or rose gold. ten-stationery.com

Mineral Sand Filter Cups by JSL Craft

Seeing a need to do away with wasteful paper coffee filters, JSL Craft set about converting their successful family-owned materials supply expertise to the production of eco-friendly reusable filter cups. Their cups are crafted from various natural minerals, including sand, mica, and clay, all of which are heat and flame-proof. Though these filter cups were created with coffee in mind, they brew an equally delicious cup of tea. For a touch of Taiwan, the team at JSL Craft recommends choosing a high mountain oolong. jsl-craft.com

A Piece of Time Wall Clock by CHYI YUH

These stunning wall clocks are what happens with a secondgene­ration owner at the helm of a thirty-year-old plus Taiwanese stone factory. After taking over the factory from his father, CEO Jian-Jang Tzeng quickly realized the potential for marble appreciati­on both in Taiwan and abroad. These timepieces, made in collaborat­ion with a local designer, feature Taiwan-sourced marble in three colors inlaid with a combinatio­n of bronze and aluminum hands and time indicators. chyi-yuh.com

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