If you follow me on Instagram and in particular, if you watch my Insta stories, you’ll know that I recently went to Taiwan to be guest speaker and teach styling workshops at a big design show in Taipei. My face was plastered over their underground/subway trains, banners advertising my event hung from lamp-posts all over the city, I was on the cover of an interiors magazine, and I met the Vice-President of Taiwan! It was a surreal week.
I was contacted last Autumn and asked if I would visit Taipei to be key note speaker, teach styling workshops, and hold book signings. I was a little skeptical at first, but after months of coordination and planning, I finally visited for a week in May and had one of the most challenging, but rewarding weeks of my career. I spoke in front of huge crowds and found myself strangely calm (having an interpreter buys you a little time to think between sentences!); I taught four days of intense workshops, and became a bit too comfortable with a microphone in my hand; I critiqued hundreds of moodboards; I held one-one-one consulting sessions with various businesses – designers, hotel owners, furniture companies, budding stylists – and offered advice on how quality styling could boost their business. I didn’t sleep much, I worked non-stop and I returned to London a fat ball of rice, but it was so much fun.
Before visiting, I designed two spaces for the design show – one in the Expo centre, based on my three books, and another in the workshop space, based on Modern Rustic. I did this all remotely from London, with the Taipei team building the rooms from my designs. Upon arrival I had to quickly style each space, fighting jet lag and exhaustion, even doing a plant buying run after being awake for 30 odd hours! The next day I stood on stage with the Vice-President and participated in the opening ceremony (we held our hands on glass spheres), and later gave him a tour of my space and explained my design! Crazy right? I also received my first ever fan art (a painting, sketches, doodles of me) and met so many great people who attended my workshops and helped with the event.
Here are a few snippets from what turned out to be a highlight of my career so far. An incredible experience in a country steeped in history, culture, and national pride, with the kindest, friendliest people. I’ll never forget it.
On my last day I was given a whirlwind tour of the city, including trying “stinky tofu”, buying lots of unusual snacks for the kids, visiting the national palace museum, and a trip to a famous temple where I was instructed on how to pray and burn incense to the God of love (no luck so far!).
I also did plenty of sharing (oversharing perhaps?) on Instagram stories – behind the scenes videos before my talks, the expected food snaps, and I might have given a review of my hotel room’s full-service toilet robot with whom I became good mates…
Back to reality now – washing kids’ clothes, doing the weekly food shop and definitely not getting stopped for selfies. Well…it was fun while it lasted!