B+P Designware: Taking Taiwan-designed dishware in a creative new direction
By Douglas Habecker
Translated by Ann Lee
7, Alley 13, Lane 213, JhongShan Rd Sec 4, Taiping City, Taichung County; (04) 2395-2111
Hours: 8:30 am-5:30 pm
Credit cards not accepted, customer have access to parking lot.
For over three decades, central Taiwan's largest tableware wholesaler, CTC, has been completely focused on selling its extremely broad range of local and imported tableware to retailers, establishments and, more recently, to consumers directly via a new attractive showroom store in Taiping City, Taichung County. CTC General Manager Carey Chen, however, is aiming even higher. With his newly-created b+p Designware label, Chen is embarking down an adventurous new road to design and produce creative lines of tableware products which, he hopes, will shake up the local industry and eventually represent Taiwan in high-end markets around the world.
b+p and its creator are already off to a great start. Chen, who grew up within the family-owned CTC and is a creative industrial designer, is preparing to introduce his first product--a striking porcelain tea set titled "The Curvaceous"--to the market. The white rhombus-shaped teapot and teacups lean at 75-degree angles and can be stacked and fitted together in an almost unlimited variety of artistic, fun arrangements. While the concept was inspired by Chinese lanterns and his love of Lego building sets, Chen notes that the simple geometric patterns are also evocative of Japanese origami paperfolding. Validating his creativity, "The Curvaceous" received an Outstanding Achievement in Ceramics Art award on Sept. 18 from the Taipei County Yingge Ceramics Museum's "2008 Creative Living: A Selected Exhibition of New Ceramic Works".
"My principles are based on the user getting involved with product combinations and encouraging physical communication between the user and product so that they can grow to love the product," says Chen, adding that one's arrangement of the tea set might vary according to mood. "[My products] don't have to be traditional. It's an East meets West artistic combination that turns daily life into an artistic environment. I think that's a wonderful idea."
While chefs see a plate as blank canvas for their cuisine, he would like to encourage diners to develop a playful, creative interaction with their dishware, using the entire table as a palette. All this, of course, must be combined with practical elements that ensure dishware is durable, stack-able and feasible to produce. These concepts will guide b+p Designware's future efforts which, Chen hopes, will eventually generate new products each month for sale at home and abroad. Despite the difficulty and cost of manufacturing such products, he also aims to keep prices within the reach of most consumers. "The Curvaceous", for example, will probably sell for around NT$4,000, despite a limited production of about 500 individually-numbered sets, made in the famed pottery town of Yingge by Matchart Studio--owned by another Chen inspiration, ceramic artist Chao Chi-ai.
Interested buyers can start looking for "The Curvaceous" as early as November, 2008. In the meantime, thousands of other dishware products can be found at CTC's showroom in Taiping City and its nearby Dali City main warehouse (472, GuoZhong Rd, Dali City, Taichung County; tel. 0986-967-957; hours: Mon, Wed-Sat 10 am-6:30 pm and Sun 10 am-5 pm), where a big clearance sale is currently taking place.