The Maison & Objet Paris trade show is one of the biggest annual events in home decor, interior design, architecture and lifestyle culture. They say they are the international authority in their field, but we’re not here to talk about them. We’re here to talk Asian Design, and dang, is it good. Here are twelve of the coolest Asian brands that caught our eye and tempted our wallets at the M&O Paris 2018 (19–23 January).
And yes, it’s a reverse alphabetical list, because we’re sharp like that.
Yamakawa – rattan furniture (Japan)
Scoop stool. Relation chair. Linger bench. Fruit bowl sofa. Yamakawa’s beautiful and warm rattan furniture draws us in and invites us to curl up with a blanket and cosy book. Seriously, how did they not put Yamakawa in the cosy section? More than that, the story of a company founded by a father to provide work for his hearing-impaired sons, touches the heart. Cosy, cosy, cosy.
Their words: “Yamakawa was also the first Japanese company to have a product selected for the permanent collection of the MOMA in New York.”
Podium – coffee (S.Korea)
Some very quirky packaging and some very fine coffee from Podium. Yes, Korea is really going for the whole coffee cult, from Kopi Luwak to eco/reuse coffee packaging that turns into a smartphone resonance boombox once you’re done with the coffees. We’re not totally sure what you’ll make of Podium, but we like it and could see using it for a novel gift or a pop-up coffee picnic. Just need to remember to bring some hot water.
Their words: “Based on their slogan ‘Scientific+Designtific Coffee’, Podium Coffee offers users fresh coffee as well as a distinctive pleasant experience through design itself.”
Pashmina Looms – fabric & fashion (Nepal)
From travel blankets to stoles, from scarves to covers, in these cold winter days there are few things warmer, or more luxurious, than pashmina. And when it comes to pashmina wool, it’s hard to go wrong with Pashmina Looms from Nepal. Weaving heritage, superior techniques, and an authentic to piece of this Himalayan land. And seriously warm. Now, with temperatures below -10C in Seoul, we can’t stress enough how important that is!
Their words: “Cashmere with heritage. We have been manufacturing luxury pashmina and cashmere products from the Himalayas of Nepal since 2004.”
Oryza Design – pop furniture (Singapore)
Stools, chairs, and tables straight out of a kid’s dream (or Candy Crush for us adults). One of Oryza’s item may brighten up the whole room, or office in the necessity of positive energy, even if it’s surrounded by beige wallpaper and monochrome furniture. Their website is totally out of date, but don’t let that put you off—their work is amazingly cute and they really deserve a look.
Their words: “High design indoor and outdoor furniture, lightings, chair, stool, table and decorative objects.”
Nehal Desai – fabric & fashion (Gujarat, India)
We fell in love with Nehal Desai’s colorful, cosy, warm and inviting fabric quilts and cushion covers. The perfect cure for the crazy cold of wintry Seoul. From bananas to marigolds to the flower markets of Mumbai, bring a bit of tropical India into your home. If you imagine mass-produced tacky design when you hear ‘a bit of tropical’, see Nehal Desai with fresh eyes. Here, traditional motif meets Anthropologie-style meets Indian ladies and fly high.
Their words: “Nehal Desai is a travel-inspired, hand-illustrated and hand screen-printed home linen and accessories brand, based in India.”
Native Union – tech accessory (Hong Kong)
Real marble iPhone cases and charging docks. Yes, that is cool. They’re literally said to help your phone keep its cool, so we’re picking them both for their function and their form. From a 3m cable to an Apple watch dock, Native Union is for the tech-savvy businessperson who spends more time with her smartphone than any object at home (that is, most of us). If you want to declutter your workspace, why don’t you make a design statement with it as well?
Their words: “Disenchanted by the nondescript, mass-produced plastic that filled the mobile accessories market, Igor Duc and John Brunner set out to offer a stylish alternative for the modern individual.”
Maison Dada – quirky furniture (China)
We love quirky and that’s why we picked Maison Dada. In particular, their Rose Sélavy vanity table made us do a little dance because it’s just like a bit of pastel glory from a Disney princess story translated into retro-chic, approachable life. Our second favorite is Confidence of a Cloud writing desk, shaped like a stack of drawers and boxes with hidden compartments. It’s a piece of Alice-in-Wonderland world that actually functions.
Their words: “Collages, inventions, re-appropriations: Maison Dada creates objects that are gently crazy, defying certainty, taste and gravity.”
Haoshi – home decor (Taiwan)
We love animals. We’re especially fond of penguins and owls, but really, we love all animals. And Haoshi shares that love, with their amazing series of beautiful animal home decor, from heavy rhino paperweights to light sparrow mirrors. The white body is not only pure and simple but also works in every design setting. Bring some wilderness into your home with some Haoshi.
Their words: “Haoshi collections present different ways of living, we observe natural behavior and create it to a luxury home decoration.”
Bambunique – bamboo furniture (Thailand)
Want some lovely wooden furniture in your home? Don’t want a forest to fall for your futon? Bamboo is the answer—it’s a fast-growing grass that can be cultivated ecologically without hurting the environment. And Thailand’s Bambunique takes that woody grass and turns into wonderful furniture, from soft, plush couches, to austere and meditative and award-winning benches.
Their words: “We bring the simplicity charm and eco luxe of bamboo with innovative thinking for changing the world. Keep green, go green, and appreciate living with nature.”
Atmoph – digital window (Japan)
Remember all those sci-fi movies with movie windows playing scenes from far-off places? Atmoph has you covered with the Atmoph window. From single panes, to two- or three-pane panoramas, it brings beautiful 4K HD video from around the world right into your home. Some of us may have a lovely view of Korean skyscrapers and mountains, but we have a lot of friends who could do with a better view than their neighbor’s brick back wall.
Their words: “Atmoph Window, the world’s first smart digital window, opens to beautiful scenery from around the world with video and sound.”
Arita 400 project – ceramic tableware (Japan)
Porcelain has been made in Arita since 1616. That’s a lot of years. The 400project is a collaboration of eight houses, from the classics of Hataman to the quirky minimalism of Kihara. We don’t know quite where to begin … it’s breathtakingly beautiful porcelain for so many tastes. If you ever felt like having a piece of classical, refined Japanese aesthetics in your house, this is where you’d get it.
Their words: “In 1616, quality ceramic rocks were discovered in Arita’s Izumiyama mountain, giving birth to Japan’s first locally produced porcelain.”
ACERA – ceramic tumbler (Taiwan)
We like our tea, staying hydrated, and we’re always on the go. Whether you’re on the go or not, you’ll have to agree with us about ACERA, who caught our eye with their travel mugs, which combine function, artistry, and quality. It’s like carrying a piece of art on your commute. You don’t have to buy their spiel about negative ions and de-toxes, just the design is enough, reinterpreting tradition and modernity and mugs. Or tumblers.
Their words: “Established in 1986 in Taiwan, ACERA specializes in handmade ceramic products, interpreting the tradition of the best Taiwan craftsmanship in a modern way.”
Did you like that round-up?
We gave Asian design a whirl and you must agree, it’s not just getting there, it’s gotten there. There were many more names than we could even mention, and if there’s a favorite brand of yours we’ve missed, do let us know!