Wed, Jul 20, 2016 - Page 13 News List

Eighty-eight stories behind Taiwan design

Annie Ivanova speaks to the ‘Taipei Times’ about launching the first comprehensive English-language book on Taiwanese industrial design earlier this month

By Han Cheung  /  Staff reporter

But with each exhibition, she could only invite one or two designers from Taiwan.

“I thought that was a slow process,” she says. “We need to write a book, so we can introduce 100.”


The project grew and started taking longer than Ivanova had expected, but she could not give up because she says Taiwanese designers told her they really needed her to help present them to the international community in way that told the real stories behind the product instead of the usual glossy marketing package.

Ivanova stood firm with her quest for authenticity, personally visiting 350 design companies and studios around the country in two years.

“I did not want any marketing statements or branding information, anything that a marketing department concocted,” Ivanova says. “I made it a rule that I would speak directly to the designers.”

It was not easy to gather the stories behind the inspiration, the perseverance, the crazy ideas that come out of nowhere that lead to an amazing product.

“Language is a problem,” Ivanova says. “Many designers did not speak English. How do we discuss profound ideas when we can’t even have a normal conversation?”

She says she found more trouble communicating with men but usually they had wives or girlfriends who spoke decent English, whom she gives special thanks to in the book. Others were either shy or apprehensive to talking to a foreign woman, she says.

Other than that, it was just keeping things casual and not forcing things, often making several visits to break the cultural barrier.

“I’m a professional curator and I understand the creative process,” she says. “Even if they draw me a picture, I can know the intention or meaning behind the product. It’s translating not just in language, but the creative process and the motivation.”


The Home Hotel, which incorporates many Aboriginal design elements, found Ivanova through her book and asked her to come stay in the hotel for two months to curate various events and activities.

After being mostly on the road or crashing with a friend during her visits to Taiwan, Ivanova feels that she finally has a home here, for now.

After the book launch, events in the works include a fashion show featuring Aboriginal designers, a pop-up store introducing some of the designers, products featured in the book, and more.

“To work and also be looking for a home in Taipei is hard,” she says. “And now I have a beautiful home at the Home Hotel.”

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