london craft week is almost upon us, and while i’m sadly not able to make it down for any of wonderful events myself, i couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share details about the fabulous creative project put together by one of my favourite west london stores for the event.
native & co is a london based design studio founded by british-japanese chris yoshiro green and taiwan-born sharon jo-yun hung, whose beautiful concept store showcasing classic and contemporary home pieces from japan and taiwan has long been one of my favourites in notting hill. for this year’s london craft week (an annual showcase of exceptional craftsmanship through a journey-of-discovery programme), native & co were tasked with an open brief about taiwanese tea culture. ‘wu’: five oolong teas from taiwan is their creative response, presenting taiwanese tea culture as part of a modern lifestyle by exploring new ways of brewing oolong. i’m particularly intrigued by the presentation, as not only am i fascinated by the rituals of tea ceremonies in the asian world, i’m also making a conscious effort to cut down my afternoon coffee intake and instead switch to a more relaxing – and antioxidant rich – tea ritual of my own.
with a foundation in traditional craft and contemporary design, native & co approached this project with the theme of ‘wu’ (‘伍’ five in mandarin). renowned for its high altitude oolong tea, taiwan’s high mountains and cool pacific air provide ideal conditions for the growth of tea, and native & co will showcase the depth and variety of taiwanese oolong tea through a selection of five oolongs from five regions, paired with five clay teapots, all native to taiwan.
traditionally, taiwanese teas are brewed in small, unglazed clay teapots, with the porous nature of these clays providing a beneficial factor in the flavour of the resulting brewed teas; with proper use, the clay within the teapots becomes seasoned by the tea and improves the taste with every brew.
as part of ‘wu’, native & co have hand-selected five taiwanese clay teapots to match each of the five oolongs teas, paying close attention to the pairing of tea and clay to compliment the natural aromas and unique flavours of each oolong, while offering their trademark modern and minimal presentation with a taiwanese air.
the theme of ‘wu’ has then been carried through into the design of the exhibition, informing the visual language and use of the space: the tea bar at herrick gallery on piccadilly is designed to accommodate only five guests at a time to preserve the intimate nature of a tea session, while its structure recalls the theme with a subtle overlapping design based on five grids. i only wish i was able to experience it for myself, but in lieu of traveling down to london for the event i instead asked co-founder sharon jo-yun hung to be the next participant in my
coffee oolong tea & conversations series…
‘wu’ five oolong teas from taiwan, supported by the ministry of culture taiwan, will host daily tea experience sessions from 4-6 may 2017 at herrick gallery, 93 piccadilly, mayfair, w1.
sharon jo-yun hung, co-founder, native & co
describe your weekday morning routine.
my weekday morning routine revolves around my cup of tea. i like to start my day with a cup of english breakfast tea, a habit that i picked up after moving to london. if the day is rainy and cloudy i usually go for a toasty cup of hojicha. i have specific teapots for each of my teas, so picking out a teapot has become part of the morning ritual. while waiting for my tea to brew, i put on some music and pick an incense that suits my mood and the weather.
how does your weekend morning routine differ?
we work on saturdays, so we are particularly big on cooking up a sunday roast. every sunday morning we have a specific routine of cleaning up the whole flat and studio space. afterwards we go out for a quick walk in holland park and visit the market for some fresh ingredients needed for cooking. we then spend most of the day preparing and enjoying our meal.
describe your favourite corner of your home.
my favourite corner of my home is the kitchen. it always has been. not because i’m a great cook, but being surrounded by my collection of tableware pieces that i have gathered over the years of travelling brings me a sense of comfort. every piece of tableware that doesn’t end up in our notting hill store collection is sitting in my kitchen.
whats your favourite home fragrance?
a subtle mix of tea and incense.
go-to comfort food dish?
there is nothing better than the taste of home-cooked, taiwanese beef noodle soup. it’s a hearty broth made from boned beef shin with carrots and tomatoes as the soup base.
how do you like to unwind on a sunday evening?
taking a long bath while reading my magazine of the week helps me relax and find inspiration for work.
where do you go for a weekend escape?
going to the gym is my weekend escape. i can spend half the day there to recover from my busy work schedule. combat class is the best way to release stress, then i cool down in the steam room and jacuzzi for hours.
finally, whats your dream destination for a month-long vacation?
if i could have a month off to travel, which is pretty impossible at the moment, i would like to visit the arctic and hopefully be lucky enough to see a polar bear.
native & co, 116 kensington park rd, london w11