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Week of August 6, 2018

A weekly Saturday recap to share with you our favorite links, discoveries, exhibitions, and more from the past seven days. This week took us around the globe and back, with the discovery of two Taiwanese talents, new tables made in Portugal by our favorite Brazilian designer, a minimalist flower shop in Russia (pictured), PLUS an extremely gorgeous way to get out the vote right here at home.
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A New Layer at Östasiatiska Museet

Turns out we're not the only ones who have noticed Scandinavia's re-emergence as a design powerhouse. In 2012, at the behest of the Taiwanese government, the National Taiwan Craft Research and Development Institute invited five Swedish designers — Gabriella Gustafson and Mattias Ståhlbom of TAF, Matti Klenell, Stina Löfgren, and Carina Seth Andersson — to visit their country in order to work with craftsmen to explore the world of lacquer techniques. From Taiwan's point of view, the project was meant to boost interest in their native lacquer craft and to investigate the effects of combining lacquer work with Scandinavian design. But it was also a very savvy business decision: "Many producers in Taiwan are curious about the performance of IKEA, Muuto, and Hay ━ the entire Scandinavian success story," says Klenell. "A lot of questions have been asked about that kind of thing: 'How can we learn about design, how can we start up businesses?'" The impact of the collaboration on Taiwanese design culture is still to be seen, but the physical results will be on view starting next Tuesday and until February 8 at Stockholm's Östasiatiska Museet, or the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities.
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The Fruit Shop by Hsian Jung

Taiwan-born, London-based Hsian Jung works as a curator and interior stylist, but in his spare time, he recently started a hand-formed ceramics line called The Fruit Shop, through whose website he releases collections inspired by individual fruits and vegetables. "Friends were describing my pottery as reminiscent of sweet melons and pumpkins, an insight that inspired this project," explains Jung. To launch his first series, based around the cantaloupe, he styled a series of photographs using "cheap objects from daily life that have similar color tones as the ceramics but totally different textures," he says.
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Ya Wen Chou, Textile and Product Designer

Ahh, design school — where navel-gazing and the pretentions of identity art are not only tolerated, but encouraged (on days when the lesson plan doesn't focus on sustainability or people with disabilities, of course). It's easy for lesser talents to get sucked too far into these themes and end up with over-baked work that either borders on kitsch or is completely irrelevant to the wider world, but when done right, the results can be both beautiful and culturally illuminating — as in the case of Ya Wen Chou, who used her time in the RCA's textile department to dig into the traditions of her grandmother and her home country of Taiwan. "My grandmother’s house was always full of handicrafts made by Taiwanese artisans," she told the Arts Thread blog last year, explaining a main source of her inspiration. And her Precious Objects project — which first caught our eye on Pinterest — explores her culture's traditional reverence for nature's role in everyday life, which does feel rather universal, having a lot in common with everything from Icelandic elf mythology to Native American spirituality. Read more about Chou's point of view in our interview after the jump.
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