A Creative’s Guide to Taipei by Musee Wu

A Creative’s Guide to Taipei by Musee Wu

After growing up in both Tokyo and New York, Musee Wu chose to return to Taiwan in 2012 to set up her own creative agency, A&M Creative. Here, we talk to Musee about working culture for women in Taipei, the creative scene, and where to get the best beer.

was named 2016’s
Design Capital
, but that’s not news to creative director Musee
Wu. After growing up in both Tokyo and New
, she chose to return to Taiwan four years ago to set up
her own creative agency. In 2012 she founded A&M Creative with
her business partner (who she met working on a project together for
Wallpaper Magazine) and has since worked on a number of exciting
projects in the city (they conceptualise, produce and install all
of Hermés’ window displays in Taiwan). Here, we talk to Musee about
working culture for women in Taipei, the creative scene, and where to get
the best beer. With a global mindset (she was one of our Taiwanese
influencers on the WW
Club + SUITCASE Taipei Exchange
) and a keen eye for design,
you’ll want to follow her insider’s guide.

How did growing up in various cities (New York and Tokyo)
affect your professional career?

Visiting a city and living in one are two totally different
experiences. I think having lived in both New York and Tokyo gave
me a deep understanding of how the people and cultures of those
places function. The subtle nuances of daily interaction help you
to gain insight into the sensitivities that are necessary for
dealing with people from different backgrounds. That has been a big
help in my career when it comes to dealing with clients and
collaborators from around the world.

Where do you live in Taipei and where do you work?

I live in the Da An area of Taipei. It’s the most central
section of the city and encompasses elements of both old and new
Taipei, and is also the most convenient area to be living. Here,
you can find both luxury shopping centres and narrow alleys with
cafés hidden in old houses. I work from my home studio, but travel
to various parts of the city to meet with our collaborators. For
example, our production team has their studio-cum-factory in the
Beitou area of Taipei, known for their hot springs. It’s always fun
to go for a studio visit and see a more industrial part of the

What’s it like being a women in the workplace in Taipei?

It has become easier for women now to have both a career and a
family, instead of having to compromise one in lieu of the other. I
think working women in Taipei are now using their careers to
discover the things they truly want in life.

What’s something that Taiwanese women spend time/money on that
women in New York do not?

Taiwanese women spend more time with their families (i.e.
parents, grandparents, extended family, etc) than women in New
York. This is partially because Taiwan is so small geographically.
A large percentage of people live in the same cities as their
families and tend to live at home until they get married or save up
enough to buy a place of their own. They tend to see their families
and spend time with them at least once a week, if not everyday.

What’s the biggest difference between Taiwanese women and
American women?

American women are more willing and able to express their
opinions or to assert themselves in the workplace than Taiwanese
women. I think there’s still a stigma in Taiwanese culture toward
women being too vocal or standing out too much professionally and

Why did you move back to Taipei? What potential did you see in
the city?

I moved back to Taipei because I wanted to bring the creativity
gained from my experiences living abroad into my work here, where
it would have maximum potential in a creative field. I see the city
as a place that is going through a bit of soul-searching, trying to
define itself both internally and on an international scale.

Taiwan went through a long period of confused identities – it
went from a Dutch and Portuguese colony to a quiet and relatively
sovereign state to being under Japanese occupation then to a
tumultuous takeover by the KMT to the current republic it is now
with tense relations to China. Taiwanese as a people are not quite sure
what to make of themselves and I think in the past few years soft
power and cultural relevance is emerging as the key to reclaiming
Taiwanese identity, and therein lies the potential of the city.

What is the arts scene like in Taipei?

The arts scene is diverse but also a little sleepy in the sense
that it’s very comfortable and easy to live in Taipei, so there’s
also less competition and a smaller audience. I think the music and
entertainment industry is quite strong, Taipei has a vibrant
underground music scene and Taiwan has produced some of Asia’s
biggest pop stars. Dance and theatre are also thriving, whereas the
visual arts are going through a period of reinvention and perhaps
redefinition of visual style.

Why do you think Taipei is a less popular travel destination in

I don’t think Taipei is less popular than other destinations in
Asia, it’s just less known to Western travellers. As mentioned
earlier, I believe Taipei will become a more popular destination
when it is able to assert its identity as a cultural player in East
Asia with qualities that extend beyond good food, for example
(although the food really is amazing!)

Taipei is the Design Capital 2016, what does this mean for the

Being chosen as the Design Capital is a good start for Taipei,
bringing awareness on an international stage. And I think the
younger generation will be prompted to see their city differently
and to explore the multi-faceted sides that Taipei has to offer.
But there’s also a question of going forward from there because
this is only a year-long title and I hope it will translate into
initiatives that look forward to the next 5, 10, 15 years.

Where would we find you on your day off?

On my day off I will most likely be found somewhere outside of
Taipei, chilling on the beach or hiking or river tracing. The
amazing thing about Taiwan is the bountiful nature it has to offer.
Less than an hour’s drive outside of Taipei is an entire lush,
subtropical island that has some of the most amazing outdoor
activities to offer. I think people living in Taipei often forget
that we live on an island that was once called Ilha Formosa,
literally “beautiful island”, by the Portuguese. I hope both the
Taiwanese and the travellers to Taiwan can be much more aware of
the appreciation and preservation of our nature resources.

A Creative’s Guide to Taipei

and the surrounding neighbourhood

GAI Art is a small gallery located in one of the most charming
neighbourhoods in Taipei. The Shida area is in close proximity to
two of the best universities in Taipei and features old-time
bookstores, cafés, and small shops tucked away in alleys next to
well-preserved Japanese houses. The gallery exhibits works by young
Taiwanese artists and is a good starting point to discover the

啜飲室 Landmark (ChuoYinShi)

Chuoyinshi Landmark is located in the heart of Xinyi district,
one of the busiest commercial areas of Taipei. It is the second
retail location of Taihu Brewing, a Taiwanese craft-beer brewery
dedicated to bringing the best craft beer from around the world to
Taiwan and Asia. The 15 custom-built taps serve an array of craft
beers from some of the finest breweries in the world, as well as
Taihu’s own selection of locally brewed beer on tap. The outdoor
standing bar is perfect for a cool beer to beat the heat of

Taipei Fine Arts Museum

The Taipei Fine Art Museum (TFAM) always has various exhibitions
going on and a permanent collection of Taiwanese art from the 20th
century. It’s good for an afternoon exploring what’s new in the
Taiwanese art scene and to gain some creative inspiration.

Baishawan (White Haven) Beach

This beach is about an hour drive away from Taipei and can also
be accessed via subway then bus. The long stretch of pristine white
sands is perfect for a day trip to get away from the city and take
in some of Taiwan’s beautiful natural scenery.

Taste by Sense 30

This retro cafe is hidden down a quiet alley and has some great
food and drinks. Good for a coffee in the afternoon or a drink at
night, the tree-lined streets in the neighbourhood are charming and
almost has a Parisian air to it. Ask the staff about Sense 30, an
affiliated store nearby selling retro bicycle gear and other knick

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