Let’s Tea Party: Taiwan Design Now is a major project organised by TAITRA in partnership with the Australian Design Centre and led by Australian curator Annie Ivanova. It is a design showcase, forum and trade mission that we hope will inspire interest in the cultural and business opportunities between Australia and Taiwan.

We spoke to Annie Ivanova, author of “Taiwan by Design: 88 products for better living” to find out how she became interested in Taiwan and what to look out for in the exhibition Let's Tea Party: Taiwan Design Now opening 31 May

ADC: When did you first move to Taiwan and why do you like living there?
Annie: It was in the sweltering summer of 2010 when I first landed at Taoyaun International Airport, wondering how I would survive the humidity. Taipei Art Fair had invited me to curate a media exhibition at the World Trade Centre, and it was to be a weeklong visit. I had declined the offer several times yet the organisers could not take ‘no’ for an answer. There was dynamism and energy being poured into the creative sector, and the thought I could be a part of it was tantalising. I returned to Taipei on an Asialink Fellowship and worked as a senior curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art for a couple of years. The director gave me a chance to curate the first major, multi-art form show of Australian contemporary art in Taiwan, cheekily titled 'Wonderland'. The show broke visitor records, more than 50,000 people came to see it. It made a lasting impact on the contemporary art scene in Taiwan, and it also opened doors for me for new business ventures.

Can you tell us a bit about Taiwanese design and how it has changed?
2011 was nominated by the Taiwanese government as 'Year of Design", staging two major events: Taipei World Design Expo and World Design Congress, both of which have been unprecedented in scope and international reach. The Expo covered 47,000 square meters of exhibitor spaces showcasing some 58 enterprises, 50 design studios, 43 promotional agencies and 25 schools of design. What I saw was that this otherwise industrial place with a 50 year history in manufacturing was moving fast into the new space of design, or as we say in the industry, making the shift from OEM to ODM. This is where the entrepreneurial opportunities are in Asia, and where the services my studio provide are most valued and valuable.     

What sort of designs will be on display as part of “Let’s Tea Party: Taiwan Design Now”?
I'm really excited to be collaborating with the Australian Design Centre and Vivid Sydney to make it happen! The project is a kind of a teaser, a creative way to introduce Taiwanese design and manufacturing to Australia. It is also a trade mission, meaning that the selection of exhibitors also had to match TAITRA's market entry objectives. We are showing urban lifestyle goods, products for the home, lovely eco toys and items for kids.

What examples of design innovations will be included in the show?
THAT! Inventions thermo-conductive kitchenware that can defrost a piece of fish in no time or make a perfect ice cream scoop is worth noting. Also the first electronic wine aerator by VINAERA and mini folding bikes by Pacific Cycles

What are the benefits for Australian designers and businesses considering working with Taiwanese companies?
Any designer looking for a manufacturing partner should explore the Taiwanеsе market. The available tooling, processes and standards are world class. The Taiwanese are open-minded, friendly and hardworking. Unlike most of Asia, doing business is quite straightforward. Anyone interested in expanding to the Chinese, even Japanese, market should consider Taiwan as a stepping stone.

About Annie Ivanova - Entrepreneur and Author
Annie Ivanova is an award-winning entrepreneur, media producer and the acclaimed author of “Taiwan by Design: 88 products for better living”.  In 2001 Annie Ivanova co-founded Australia's first media art agency, Novamedia, which she led as an executive director. Studio IVANOVA was established in 2011 as Annie's independent practice with offices in Sydney and Taipei. She leads a team of experienced exhibition curators and technical producers, working from the heart of Asia to service exceptional partners on three continents. Find out more about Annie Ivanova here

Explore the exhibition Let's Tea Party: Taiwan Design Now here

Image: Annie Ivanova. Photo courtesy of Annie Ivanova. 

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