How One Brand Is Preserving and Promoting Indigenous Taiwanese Craft

At Kamaro‘an, Indigenous artisans use traditional techniques to create distinctive light fixtures, ceramics, bags, and more.

Pair of photos, one showing detail of a woman weaving rattan, and one showing a basket
From left: Artisan Imay Apong weaves rattan with a one-thread technique; Kamaro‘an’s Fakar Basket Bag ($520). Photo:

Courtesy of Kamaro'An Houset

In Pangcah, an indigenous language of Taiwan, the word kamaro'an means “place to live” — implying an invitation to linger a little longer or make yourself at home.

Designers Yun-fann Chang and Shane Liu had this feeling of at-homeness in mind when they partnered with Tipus Hafay, a craft expert and Pangcah tribe member, to establish a line of home goods and accessories in 2015. Today, Kamaro‘an is known for its distinctive light fixtures, ceramics, and accessories; the brand’s canvas bags are even stocked at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

Hafay, who does social-enterprise work in her home county of Hualien, connected with weavers from around the island to explore Taiwan’s unique craft traditions. Kamaro‘an employs 11 Indigenous artisans, labeling each product with the names of those who made it. Many of the luxurious straw-and-rattan styles feature distinctive woven-leather handles and details: an adaptation of a Pangcah one-thread weaving technique. Some pieces echo traditional household objects in form and function. Nacu Dongi, a Pangcah craftsperson and full-time staffer, explained that one cylindrical leather satchel pays tribute to the bamboo water bottles that “our Pangcah elders still make and use today.”

Interior of a design shop in Taipei
Kamaro'an House, the brand's new Taipei atelier.

Courtesy of Kamaro'an House

In April, the company opened a brick-and-mortar atelier, Kamaro‘an House, inside an airy former residence in Taipei. The space currently hosts workshops in weaving and natural dyeing, and pop-ups from other Taipei brands. On the horizon: the trio behind Kamaro‘an plan to extend their line to include textiles and apparel inspired by traditional Pangcah costume and, more important, to create a permanent exhibition of their cultural research and archives of Pangcah art and design.

Kamaro‘an House is open by appointment.

A version of this story first appeared in the December 2022/January 2023 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline "Object Lessons."

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