Located in a quiet lane a block away from Shida Night Market, Le Magasin du Ciel (現在夢中 ● 雜貨商行) is a peaceful respite from the bustling stalls selling snacks and trendy fashions.
Decorated with neat clusters of small potted plants, the cerulean blue storefront looks like it would fit in a Parisian neighborhood. The long, narrow interior of Le Magasin du Ciel, which opened in November, is still covered with the floral ceramic tiles that were once a common sight in Taiwanese homes. Owner Heaven Tai’s (戴海雯) handmade bags, wallets and accessories are carefully arranged on wooden shelves and vintage tables in the store, which also doubles as her sewing studio. Tai’s brand is called H* made in Heaven and its signature is simple, childlike shapes that highlight eccentric melanges of prints and texture: Vintage polka-dot and floral fabric and hand-drawn appliques are accentuated with colorful embroidery, fuzzy felt and patterned Japanese washi paper tape.
Tai launched the brand shortly after graduating from National Taiwan University of Arts (國立臺灣藝術大學) in 2006. As a graphic design student, Tai used computer layout and illustration programs, but became captivated with crafting while preparing her graduation project. “I found that I really enjoyed working with my hands more than using computers. From then on, I wanted to focus on creating handmade, hand-illustrated things,” Tai says.
She balanced her full-time job as a designer for a small cosmetics firm with weekends spent selling her creations at art and craft fairs, including Campo Life Art Carnival (CAMPO生活藝術狂歡節).
After the cosmetics company went under, Tai took advantage of her unemployment to focus on her brand. Idee (衣蝶百貨), then in the space now occupied by Shin Kong Mitsukoshi (新光三越) on Nanjing W Rd, invited her to sell H* made in Heaven items in the department store.
What: Le Magasin du Ciel(現在夢中 ● 雜貨商行)
Where: 78, Yunhe St, Taipei City (台北市雲和街78號)
Opening Hours: Store is open 3pm to 10pm. Closed on Tuesdays
On the Net: tw.myblog.yahoo.com/heaven-shop
Tai eventually found a new position with a company that creates public art installations, but missed having creative control over her work. In 2009, she left her job to concentrate on H* made in Heaven full time.
Before opening the store, Tai, who is fluent in Japanese and a fan of “zakka” style crafts and home decor, took a trip to Japan. While there, she realized that a lot of the things she liked were actually inspired by European styles.
“I thought, why not go directly to the source?” Tai says. She flew to Paris and ended up staying for seven months, taking French lessons, combing the city’s famous flea markets and bouquinistes, or secondhand bookstalls, and visiting art museums on free admittance days.
After returning to Taiwan, Tai opened Le Magasin du Ciel, decorating the space with secondhand items like her grandmother’s trestle sewing machine and aunt’s tangelo orange portable typewriter. Tai is the store’s sole employee, taking only Tuesdays off.
Using Japanese washi tape on cloth bags and accessories is one of H* made in Heaven’s signatures. Similar in texture to masking tape, the material is most often used for scrapbooks and collages. Tai, however, loves how it looks against cotton fabric and canvas and the soft, crinkled texture it eventually develops.
“Tape is not just for sticking things together. There are a lot of different things you can do with it,” says Tai, who first started using washi tape when she was invited to contribute to Fun Paper Tape Crafts (好可愛！紙膠帶Fun手玩), published last fall by DelightPress (悅知文化). Other publications that Tai’s projects and instructions have been featured in include DIY magazine (DIY玩佈置) and United Daily newspaper.