With careers in advertising and gallery curation behind her, Taiwanese expat Nicole Teng turned her attention to her first love – collecting, adapting and designing her own furniture and lifestyle objets. Inspired by the 50s French Art Brut movement and its raw, original aesthetic, in 2011 Teng launched her own design line BrutCake (the cake symbolising the simple pleasures of life rather than actual pastry) enabling her to give free rein to not only her artistic proclivities but also her ecological beliefs, using pre-loved and recycled goods to create handmade works of art that are as singular as they are useful.
From a passion for old Chinese woven fabrics, a new line of totes, shopping bags, oven gloves and place mats has emerged; reclaimed furniture finds itself re-imagined and re-upholstered in patchwork often with quirky character faces; lamps are fashioned out of old film celluloid, and stacked everywhere in the small retail space on Anfu Lu; there are cheery, skewy, esoteric ceramics – bowls, plates, vases, mugs and even lampshades, some freehand painted with charming faces, some glazed, others rough and textural. Without a doubt one of the most unusual designers in Shanghai, BrutCake is a treasure house for one-off gifting. After all, where else would you find an upcycled metal faucet fitted with a lightbulb and fashioned into a lamp?