Biaugust’s (兩個八月) home accessories mix looks and practicality with a big dose of social commentary. Items designed by Owen Chuang (莊瑞豪) and Cloud Lu (盧袗雲) are simple and versatile enough to fit into many interiors, but each carries a distinct message.
Named after the birth month of both creators, Biaugust was founded in 2000 after Chuang and Lu returned from studying in Tokyo.
After six years of graphic design work, the duo made their first professional venture into product design when they were invited by NSK Global to participate in an exhibition marking the anniversary of the Japanese manufacturer. The two were asked to find a way to make NSK Global’s ball bearings exciting to the average consumer.
Biaugust’s creation, a two-piece saucer with a revolving platform and border of tiny horses reflected in a mirrored cup, creating a merry-go-round effect, was a hit and the company began producing the set, which was meant as a one-off item, for sale. Encouraged, Chuang and Lu began to create more home accessories and art installations. Biaugust still operates its graphic design business, which gives its founders the luxury of coming up with their own projects whenever inspiration hits.
“We can wait until we have a concept we are happy with, so we can afford to be more idealistic,” Chuang says.
“We think of our message first and then we try to figure out how to translate that into something practical, what material we will use and what function it will serve,” Lu says.
Their Love and Peace series of ceramic home accessories riffs on war iconography and includes a coin bank in the shape of a hand grenade. In order to retrieve his or her change, the user has to smash the “grenade,” ideally by tossing it.
“The act of throwing a hand grenade usually brings death and destruction, but with a piggy bank, you have dreams and plans for each coin you save,” Chuang says. “When you finally throw our grenade, it doesn’t cause harm. It brings fulfillment instead.”
Several Biaugust creations spotlight environmental conservation. The Non-Life Zoo, which began as an art installation created for a Japanese competition, features plush toys and illustrations of different animals standing erect on their hind legs. Ghostly skulls superimposed on each face temper their cuddly cuteness.
“We anthromorphized the animals because we want viewers to consider the relationships human beings have with different species,” Chuang says of the designs, which are currently available as graphic T-shirts in Net clothing stores.
Other pieces make use of repurposed or recycled materials. For the 2008 Taiwan Designers’ Week, (台灣設計師週), Chuang and Lu created a restaurant interior constructed entirely out of disposable biandang (便當), or lunchbox, containers and utensils. Luxurious-looking chandeliers were arranged from dozens of flimsy soupspoons, rubber bands were woven into chair covers and tightly stacked disposable wooden chopsticks made a surprisingly sturdy dining table. Waxed cardboard biandang boxes were cut into six-petal disks that can be linked together into endless configurations, including curtains, lampshades and vases.
Manufactuered in paper and polypropylene versions, the disks are now Biaugust’s best-selling item.
“Consumer habits are now about constantly wanting new things and throwing old items out, but [the disks] are something that users can use over and over again in many different ways,” Lu says.