If you are planning a long-stay travel to Taiwan to explore the local culture, where can you find a good place to stay? “Planett” in Tainan could be a good choice.
Located in the Tainan city center, Planett doesn’t have an eye-catching sign. After you find the old building and its entrance, walk to the 3rd floor, and push the glass door open, a cozy home-like working space will appear in front of you. Providing both working and living spaces, Planett has been visited by young people from many different countries, who are mainly artists or designers. “We call them ‘aliens’, who visit our planet!” said Nös Chen, the founder of Planett, with a smile on her face. Those “aliens” came from countries including the U.S.A, Canada, France, Holland, Germany, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau, China, etc.
The idea of creating Planett emerged when Nös was discussing with her friends renting and sharing a working studio. The further they brainstormed about how to make use of the space, the more possibilities appeared. “If I am going to travel and work around the world, can I find spaces where I would like to spend a few months living? Spaces that even make homebodies feel comfortable?” The motivation for providing a space for international talents grew stronger and stronger in her mind. In 2014, a year after graduating from college, she decided to quit her job and start her own business.
In the beginning, Nös and her partners had a very limited budget and resources. They designed the interiors and painted the space on their own. To appeal to potential “aliens”, they promoted Planett via online co-working space platforms, and even asked their friends who were studying abroad to distribute posters for them. In the first ten months, Planett was operating at a loss.
Why Tainan? Wasn’t it more difficult to promote a co-working space for foreigners in Tainan compared with Taipei? Nös doesn’t agree with this point of view. “People don’t lose interests in Iceland because there is Ireland. People don’t ignore Portugal only because there is Spain. Taipei and Tainan both have pros and cons. The needs for modern international businesses have always been changing, and the geographical limitations are changing accordingly as well.”
Partly because the number of foreign exchange students was increasing, Planett’s business started to grow. Since last summer (2015), more and more “aliens” landed on Planett, including Isaac Liang, who was previously introduced by Beyonder Times. In the process of interacting with these foreign designers and artists, Nös was able to review and further understand the strengths and weaknesses of the local industry.
Once, Nös brought the Dutch designer, Nienke Bongers, to YingGe, to look for factories, which could make samples for the handmade porcelain cups designed by her. She hoped to use various porcelain colors and different baking temperatures to create the effect of subtle liquid movements. Fortunately, they found a successor of an old factory, who was interested in taking on the challenge. Two weeks later, the sample delivered to Bongers was more than satisfactory.
“Taiwan owns sufficient resources of manufacturing and handicrafts. Many foreign designers and startups believe that this is a great advantage. They can efficiently find factories to make samples, work on material research, and test the market with low production thresholds,” said Nös.
This year, Nös hopes to focus on exploring local design resources, especially of traditional craftsmanship, so that she will be able to play the role of connecting foreign designers with local traditional industries. She sees that the global industrial environment is changing. More and more startups are looking for quality manufacturers. If Taiwan can make use of its friendliness, flexibility, and high potential for technical development, a new positioning for Taiwan’s manufacturing industry is likely to happen.
Looking forward to the future of Planett, Nös believes that, by adopting the perspectives of people from various backgrounds and creating an environment with more diversity, significant innovations will be more likely to occur in Tainan and in Taiwan.
Born in 1990, Co-founder of Planett. As an Industrial Design graduate, she likes to challenge different kinds of jobs relating to design and aesthetics. She sees herself as an “alien”, so she created the co-working space “Planett” to receive many other aliens like herself.