Popup design shop

I can’t say that I have been very aggressive ( it’s not so natural for me) in promoting the e-shop since the launch about 8 months ago. I am still learning, trying things out and finding my feet in the competitive world of e-tailing.

Since the East London design show in Dec, I have been laying low, and just as I was thinking of stepping forward, I was approached to participate in the newly launched Popup design event in Central London with other international independent designers. I agreed to do it because I thought it would be a good opportunity to get more exposure and be able to sell directly to the public, esp. to those who have never heard of us ( which is most people actually)!

Now that the show is almost over, I realised that what has been most rewarding was that I made some wonderful new friends, people with different backgrounds but with similar vision. I don’t believe that people have to be ruthless in running businesses, I find generosity will earn you more in the long run, and luckily, I met many who think the same way as I do, which is very encouraging.

Here, I want to thank all of you who have been so supportive and generous!


Pina Bausch

I am a big fan of dance, so Sadler’s Wells is one of my favourite venues in London. When I went online to book for Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch’s World Citie 2012 a few months back, almost everything had sold out and I only managed to secure a side seating to see “Der Fensterputzer (The window washer: Hong Kong)”. All the permances at Barbican were sold out even before Sadler’s Wells, so I was left with little choice!

I was curious to see how the late Pina interpreted the characters of Hong Kong and infused into the production performed by her company, Tanztheater Wuppertal. I had never seen their live performance before, but I was intrigued when I saw them dancing in Wim Wender‘s documentary, Pina.

I really enjoyed the show esp. the first half ( the second half was more predictable and dragged a little) despite the not so easy viewing from the side of the theatre! It was dazzling, humourous and visually enticing. I also love the music, ranging from the late Cesária Évora to Canto pop songs from the 70s, the sounds were as captivating as Peter Pabst’s 15ft-high mound of red petals on stage.

The lack of linear narrative in performances is often challenaging for audiences, but in this case, the artistic expression was powerful enough to captivate the audiences’ attention. If you could not get tickets to see any of Pina‘s world cities show, then I recommend renting the DVD to see what the fuss is all about:


Song Dong’s ‘Waste not’ exhibition

The problem with London is that there are too many cultural activities going on all the time, so it’s hard to keep up sometimes. I almost missed the mesmorizing ‘Waste not‘ exhibition by Chinese artist, Song Dong at the Barbican Centre, it was luckily that I managed to catch it at the last minute. It has been a long time since I felt genuinely moved by an art exhibition, and it made me think hard about my own family ‘junk’ issue!

The exhibition comprised over 10,000 household possessions, collected by the artist’s mother, Zhao Xiangyuan over a period of five decades. Zhao started collecting at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution as a means of survival, but gradually these objects took over her life, fulfilling the emptiness that she suffered after the death of her husband in 2002.



The initial installation was created in 2005 by Song Dong, installed with his mother as a way to help her cope with her grief and put her memories in order. Tragically, Zhao died in a car accident in 2009, but Song’s family would reunite and work on the installation as it travels and exhibits around the world.

Personally, I have also been dealing with the huge collection of ‘stuff’ that my family has accumulated over the years. Like Zhao, my mother doesn’t like to throw things out, she often claims that these objects would be useful one day especially like jam jars, plastic containers, used envelopes and old magazines etc. Some of the items that I discovered during a clearance recently could be considered as museum pieces!

While many of us get attached to items that have sentimental value, I failed to understand my mother’s persistence in keeping the ‘useless’ objects until this exhibition…

I am sure that most visitors to the exhibition can somehow relate to the story behind because it is not so much about art, but about human emotions, family bonds, memories and nostalgia that we all share regardless of our nationalities, ages, gender and backgrounds.


Arirang & Kim Ki-Duk

I don’t know how to describe renowned Korean director, Kim Ki-Duk‘s new docudrama, it is weird, fascinating, boring, humorous, experimental, self-indulgent, self-critical, meditative and intense all at the same time! How can a film be all of the above? Well, here we go, and it even won the ‘Prix Un Certain Regard’ at Cannes Film festival in 2011.

Kim Ki-Duk‘s films are not catered for the masses, most of them are dark, twisted, destructive and thought-provoking, nonetheless, they are always visually stunning ( due to his background in Fine arts). I have watched about 5/6 of his previous films and probably like most people, “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring” is my favourite.

I have not seen “Dream“, the film that triggered him to step away from the camera and lived in isolation for three years. This docudrama is like his confession to himself and the world about what he went through, and how he coped with his ‘mental breakdown’. The irony is that his ‘breakdown’ was caused by filming, which also turned out to be his ‘cure’. But I am particularly intrigued by all the coffee machines that he made during that period!

I think people are going to either love it or hate it, personally, I think it is flawed, yet it is probably the bravest and rawest autobiopic I have ever seen. It pushes boundaries to the extreme, as well as challenging the audiences’ patience and tolerance. Love it or hate it, it surely is unique and bizarre enough to make you realised that being ‘ordinary’ is actually not so bad afterall!




Souvenir from Thailand

Delicious, functional or junk? It’s time to review the items I bought from Thailand, starting from the edibles:

Lemongrass tea – I love lemongrass tea, not only does it smell good, it also tastes very refreshing. It is natural and full of antioxidants: it is detoxifying, good for digestion and can lower high blood pressure. Since I avoided caffeine drinks in the evenings, lemongrass tea has become one of my favourite drinks after an evening meal.

Mulberry tea – I bought this tea for my father, who suffers from diabetes… Apparently it is also full of antioxidants, it strengthens the immune system and reduces bad cholesterol. But best of all, it prevents the body from absorbing many common sugars and helps manage diabetes. My father seemed pretty impressed when I explained the benefits to him, but whether he will drink it is another a matter!

Instant vegetables – whenever I travel, visiting local supermarkets is a ‘must’ on my itinerary and I usually need at least 30 minutes to wander around ( unless it’s a really crappy one). I was quite curious when I saw the Urban farm instant vegetables packs ( don’t be put off by the word ‘instant’) at a high-end supermarket in Bangkok. They are actually all natural, without MSG nor preservatives, and can be cooked with rice, noodles and soup etc. There are 5 different flavours and seem pretty convenient, hence I bought a stack and gave some to a friend who doesn’t like to cook.

Coffee – Coffee shops are everywhere in Chiang Mai, so I was determined to bring home some local roasted coffee. I found Duang Dee hill tribe coffee in a large local supermarket, what attracted me was the fact that it is organically grown, hand picked and roasted in the nearby mountains by tribal farmers. There are three blends available and I went for the 100% Arabian. I then found out that a percentage of the coffee sales would contribute towards other tribal development projects, which was quite a nice surprise.

At Chiang Mai‘s Herbs basics ( which I mentioned in the previous entry), I bought a range of gift items, including a herbal massage compress for my mother, incense sticks for my father and body butters for myself and friends. I thought the kaffir lime body butter is quite fantastic, although it has a slightly sweet smell, the texture is just right ( I think it’s even better than L’Occitane’s). My friend also texted to tell me how much she ( and her boyfriend) love the Lavender body butter, so I am quite impressed with this brand and their ‘low’ priced but high quality products.

Greeting cards & note pads – these lovely cards and note pads were bought from Chiang Mai‘s Things called art ( see my previous entry). I just love the elephant-inspired illustrations and products, they are so cute!

3-d greeting card – In my previous entry, I mentioned Nancy Chandler‘s maps of Chiang Mai, but since the company is a graphic design studio, it’s not surprising that they would also produce greeting cards. I esp. like this unqiue 3-d illustration of a local house.

Rubber stamps: I love rubber stamps, and when I saw this Japanese inspired set of rubber stamps, I couldn’t resist them even though I am not sure when I will get to use them!

Credit card holdersGood job is a Thai lifestyle brand that sells modern and unique stationery, home and fashion accessories. Founded by an architect and two designers, the company has received many international design awards since they started in 2005. I was looking for a credit card holder, and I like their simple but practical card holders, so I bought one in YELLOW and one in boring black…

Stamp sets – Last but not least, these lovely stamp collections are probably my favourite souvenirs from the trip and I gave one set to my brother who like me, used to collect stamps. I spent a long time at the Chiang Mai Philatelic Museum, examining the large collection, including ones on folk tales ( created by well-known local artists), the Royal family and Buddhist archaeological sights etc. Not exactly useful but really beautiful.


Clerkenwell design week (May 2012)

Solar Tree designed by Ross Lovegrove and manufactured by Artemide at St John’s Square


I got back from Asia just in time for the annual Clerkenwell design week, and unexpectedly the weather was glorious!

The main event took place at Farmiloe building, House of Detention and the Order of St John, while others took place at showrooms and shops in the area. Many people outside of the industry probably don’t realise that this is not only a free public event, it is also an event where you can get free booze! ( Maybe I shouldn’t be leaking this out…) A lot of the showrooms organise free talks and design-related events that include free drinks and sometimes canapes, so if you can look the part and get yourself in ( these places are usually packed), then you can drink your way around the area!


Furniture and lighting designs at The order of St John

Drinking aside, this annual event is an opportunity for designers and showrooms ( mostly furniture and interior design) in the area to showcase and promote their new products.

At the Farmiloe building, one of sponsors, Jaguar demonstrated live clay modelling ( see below), which was totally fascinating and attracted many spectators.


Tekio, a new modular lighting system designed by Antnony Dickens


I was particularly excited when I saw the new In-Ei lighting collection ( see below) by Issey Miyake for Artemide, that were recently revealed at Milan design week. The 9-lampshade collection is foldable and uses special fabric derived from recycled PET bottles, processed using an innovative technology that reduces both energy consumption and CO2 emissions up to 80% when compared to the production of new materials.

While I was walking around in the heat, I came across an odd looking red structure attached to the back of a van. Being noisy, I walked over to investigate and learned that it is travelling theatre developed by British multi-disciplinary design studio, Aberrant architecture, a 21st century re-conceptualization of traveling coal salesman, Thomas Britton‘s 1678 mini-entertainment building for London. Sadly, I didn’t get to look inside, but their website has some interesting photos of the interior.

My last stop was “Made in Clerkenwell” at Craft Central, an open studio/ shopping event where visitors could visit 90 artists and designers’ studios and shop at the same time! Many of the studios are occupied by jewellery designers, although I didn’t buy anything, it was fun to see how and where they work.


Mischer‘traxler’s Relumine ( right)