City-hopping in Asia: an eye-opening and mouth-watering experience
By Gemma Riberti

Looking for an Asia travel guide? WGSN’s Gemma Riberti has the lowdown on key design inspiration, plus where to eat and drink.

May 02, 2016
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At WGSN, our jobs contain a lot of travel, a chance to scour for trends, attend global tradeshows, and present these key ideas. For me, this month exceeded my travel expectations – as I flew from the bustling creativity of Milan Design Week to Hong Kong, Taipei and Shanghai all in one go to deliver seminars and trendtalks, explore trade shows and the local design scene, meet with clients and industry professionals – and of course, taste the yummy food that these cities have to offer!

So, I wanted to share a little wrap up of my travels.

I hope it will inspire you to book a trip at Asia ASAP and act as your digital Asia travel guide:

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Hong Kong was the first leg, and to my never-been-to-Asia-before eyes it made quite a striking impact! We took  part in the seminar at the Houseware and Home Textiles fairs, where we shared our vision for 2017. Walking the shows was very interesting, as quite a few brands would not look out of place at European events such as Heimtextil and Maison & Objet. Many were the great examples of natural and sustainable design, from negative ions-absorbing wooden flooring to recycled fibers and composites, and quite a few interesting projects in paper as well, as the respect for nature and wellness is deeply embedded in Chinese tradition and culture.

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From here we headed straight to Taipei, where we presented the S/S 17 design direction at the Giftionery show and met with the Interaction Design Association to discuss lifestyle, technology and interiors trends. The gifting and stationery fair provided us with important insight on this market, and again we noted the strong focus on green, sustainable and natural design.

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We also checked out the Creative Expo downtown, one of the many initiatives the city has in store as being World Design Capital – and the young, up-and-coming design scene is very inspiring indeed, an interesting blend of traditional crafts and contemporary aesthetics. We met a few designers we featured in some of our reports, and it’s always so great to hear the stories behind the products.

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The green theme was predominant here as well, with bamboo and cork and local woods but also recycled marble waste for instance.

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But Taipei is a foodie’s heaven as well! So I got introduced to its seemingly endless offer, tasting as much as possible from night market to traditional restaurant, from superlocal hidden spots to expat hangouts. And yes, I had rainbow-coloured cotton candy ice cream – and yes, it was delicious!

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Shanghai was next, where we dove straight into the underground creative scene with a Fantastical Botanical craft and workshop market, where the love for vintage, craft and making was really striking. Here too, nature was a key material and inspiration -a confirmation that this topic really is global and all-encompassing. The city is an inspiring, vibrant multi-faceted melting pot and we just started to get a glimpse of it by walking the French concession but also the Bund, People Square but also getting lost in its tiny side streets. We definitely found out walking is not that common as a means of travel here.

The design scene is very interesting as well, great stores and a focus on lifestyle with fresh blends of Western and Eastern flavour in concept stores such as the brand new Wondullfull – so new it has no website yet, and so eco its coffee is handed out in cork mugs (although they get thrown away nonetheless, so not sure that’s the best use for it…) – or creative duo Neri & Hu’s established Design Republic.

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In one of the hottest boutique concept hotels in town, the Urbn, we also hosted our TrendTalks, discussing our future trends across lifestyle and product design directions and getting very interesting insight and feedback about the regional markets.

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Now off to the last leg, coming back to Hong Kong for a deeper dive into the city and its creative scene! This trip was extremely inspiring, constructive and eye-opening, and all these conversations are sparking so many ideas for coverage, reports and above all enticing the desire to come back soon (and find out more, see more, hear more, share more… and why not, taste more!)

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Lifestyle & Interiors subscribers that are curious about Shanghai can find our newly updated city guide in City by City here, and check out our Sustainability and Craft trendlinks to find out all reports relating to these topics.

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