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22 Design Studio

22 Design Studio

Yiting Cheng and Sean Yu have just opened their first ever concept store in Taipei.  “Concrete floor, plywood wall, steel shelving, glass display panels and neon light tubes,” is how they describe it. “All very raw and direct. Very 22.”

This store opening is the definition of coming full circle. Sean and Yiting’s design brand, 22 Design Studio, is inspired by the city in which they live and is the result of experimenting with the materials from which Taipei is built: concrete, glass and stainless steel.  Which is why their new store couldn’t be built from anything else. 

22 Design Studio was conceived after a trip to Japan in 2006 when the pair were only 22 years old and fresh out of university.  Struck by Tadao Ando’s cast in-place architecture dotting the country, Sean had a simple business idea: concrete rings.  

“In my opinion, this was the beginning of a spectacular journey, started at an age when we were confident, independent, and passionate,” says Sean. “It helped a lot that we knew nothing but design at that time. We were open to all kinds of opportunities and advices from others. Everything was trial and error.”

Upon coming home, they learnt quickly that there was a reason people weren’t working with concrete on a small and precise scale.  Difficulties with quality control, production, and maintenance reared their head quickly, but they persevered. 

“We went after concrete for its ability to connect the emotions of the urban city and its dwellers... For us, it is not about usability, convenience, or cost, but it’s about the story in between, and its lasting impact." 

It may have started with rings, but the 22 Design Studio output now covers rollerball pens and sketch pencils (both of which take seven days to make), jewellery and timepieces – all of which are a feat of both patience and physics.  22 Design Studio’s newest feat is the Fourth Dimension Watch.  Twelve miniscule inclinations have been sculpted into its concrete watch face, and slender, L-shaped brass hands inch their way around it. With a Miyota movement encased in solid 316L stainless steel and a thick leather strap, it combines an architect’s innate sense of scale with a designer’s fluency in form and function.  It’s Sean and Yiteng at their peak.

Today there are nine members of 22 Design Studio, including a bevy of makers and marketing and sales members, and Sean and Yiting are now married.  (“I do object design and she does graphic design, thus we have less opportunity to fight each other,” Sean explains.)

22 Design Studio is just one of a new wave of Taiwanese design brands gracing the global stage.

“Taiwan had its glory time being the world’s factory,” says Sean. Now the crown is taken by China. But there are still many, many factories and workshops with great techniques. They used to take orders from overseas clients, but time has changed. They are forced to find a new way to survive, and some of them think maybe design is one of them.”

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22 Design Studio’s collection is available now.