2 Apr 2016, 12:42 p.m. | Archive
Simple is best, like a ray of sunshine in spring — thoughts on the art of simplicity.
What is the difference between art and decoration?
I am currently working on a Taiwan edition of my traveller’s notebook (see the Amsterdam version here), and my research has focused on what makes Taiwan unique in food, fashion, living and entertainment.
Looking at food, I realised I am fascinated by the 1980s style plates and bowls. We had them at home when I was a kid, and you still see them in mom-and-pop food stalls: bowls and plates decorated with often somewhat naive drawings of flowers, sometimes in bold colour combinations. I’ll be honest, as a kid I thought these were lame. But as I looked at these plates in the last weeks, I found a new appreciation for them.
These drawings were not intended to be art. They were a decoration. You can almost hear what people were saying: “We don’t like a boring white plate, it must have a pattern on it. Let’s put some flowers there.” The drawings were created by average people without any aspirations of making art.
Yet when you take them all together, when you think about all the different plates that are used in households all over Taiwan, they do form a uniquely Taiwanese artwork. Created by lots of different people over time, you only recognise it when you take a step back and look at it all together.
When I look at these plates, I see them as an expression of the idea of 陽春 (Yáng Chūn).
Yáng Chūn is the idea that stuff doesn’t have to be fancy as long as it does what it is supposed to do. It is like using a 1990s Nokia instead of an iPhone. The Chinese characters mean “sun, bright” (陽) and “spring” (春). Simple is beautiful, all you need to be happy is a sunny day in spring!
When I look at these plates, that is what I see: a very Taiwanese willingness to be perfectly happy with something that isn’t perfect.
I wanted to create a plate design of my own that goes beyond the generic flowers that you normally see, so I used flowers that are very common in Taiwan: the Hibiscus, Morning Glory, Bougainvillea, Orange Jessamine and Orchid.
When I was done, I thought that there was more here. I love hanging out in Taiwanese coffee shops, but many of them are done in Japanese style, Scandinavian style, or something Western. You hardly ever encounter a Taiwanese-style café. So I was thinking: what if you use the pattern that I made and turn it into branding for a whole coffee shop? That would be fantastic!
Here you have it then: the branding of the (non-existent) Yáng Chūn Café.
I really hope that someone will feel inspired to open a coffee shop in this Taiwanese style. I would love to do the design, of course! (Contact my agent, haha!)
"陽春"表達的不是高檔奢華,而是種堪用的概念,就像是手裡拿著 諾基亞智障手機,而不是蘋果的高端智慧型SE;以單字作解釋, “陽”＿代表的是太陽,光亮, “春”＿代表的春天,生氣盎然; “陽春”若用表達生活,應該呈現的畫面,是簡單的生活,有溫暖陽光,和春意盎然的意境。真的就像靈光乍現一樣,陽春與臺式碗盤間的關聯,似乎就在表達著臺灣人樂觀,敢拼,但又隨遇而安的國民精神！
______ Reference & Research