One dusky night while on holiday in Taiwan, PingMag made its way to Mo!Relax on recommendation of our pals, Nagoya-based band Lullatone: Nestled in a side street of Taipei, this cosy bar/café simultaneously functions as a graphic design studio. We were welcomed with open arms by owners Dizzy and Shih-Chi, who whizzed us into their crowded establishment and propped beers in front of us – of both the root and Pilsner variety – in a display of hostly ferocity that we have rarely witnessed anywhere else.
Written by Ian Lynam and Selena Hoy
The logo of this special café/bar/creative workspace in Taipei.
Cosy Creative Space
Mo!Relax is an accomplished design studio and creative space, with a number of books, identity/branding work, and tons of print work to show for their multi-tasking. Dizzy and Shih-Chi run the business with a handful of part-time staff, juggling design work, translation and other projects along with slinging a mind-boggling array of bottled and draft beer along with super-yummy coffee drinks and desserts. Speaking of translation, Shih-Chi’s English is terrific, and she translates novels into Taiwanese, using the bar and her laptop as an office as she minds the café…
The stencil for Quizmaster’s cover art.
HTML Workers Welcome
90 percent of the people there appeared to be working on their laptops, though it was the kind of contemporary e-working that seems more pleasure than drudgery. Stylish cats sipped lattes and batted eyes at one another while lounging on sofas converting HTML tables into frames on glowing laptops. The warmly-lit walls are ringed with shelves of Mo!Relax’s vast collection of design magazines, culture rags, manga, and photography books. Practically every hip title from Asia is represented, and it’s a wealth of information and inspiration to the many creative types who frequent the café.
A detail of one of the display shelves brimming with rad homemade designed goods!
Some pieces for sale inside the café.
Flip Through Art For Inspiration
A revolving cast of art shows adorn the café walls: illustration, photography, and graphics, each taking up a small section. Specialised shelves for handmade goods and design objects for sale are present. Moreover, Dizzy has some really nice books that he’s designed for sale there – lovely pairings of spare modernist typography and stunning photographs within. Also remarkable is their selection of indie music that you can purchase if you happen to like the sounds streaming from the speakers. The café hosts the occasionally DJ or live set, and Dizzy himself is also in a band, of course.
The author and Dizzy talk type.
Taipei café guide featuring and designed by Mo!Relax Studio.
There’s a sense of honesty in the place. Shih-Chi confirmed this when we asked her if they would ever consider opening more cafés in other parts of Taiwan – or the world. She emphatically stated that they aren’t interested in expansion, but rather just maintaining a working independent business that nurtures and fosters creativity in an area where KFC, Starbucks, and other global chains are encroaching further and further.
Mo!Relax stands as a member of a tight-knit community of independent businesses in Taiwan. It’s worth stopping by if you are in Taipei! Just a skip and a hop from the Shida Night Market. And: It’s open L-A-A-A-TE – typical hours are 2pm to 4am. Surely this serves as a great place for a nightcap before retiring for the evening…
The friendly folks, local goods, rad service, and affordability were all great – but the best was this: Dizzy told us that the next big design project we have, we should drag my laptop over to Taiwan and just set up shop with them for a month or two. “It’s cheap and we will have a lot of fun,” he said. When another designer you’ve barely met but who does world-class work makes that kind of invitation, it’s hard to turn it down. We’ll definitely be working on a project alongside the proprietors at some point in the future!
A sweet giggling pair: Dizzy and Shih-Chi in their Mo!Relax Cafe.
The entrance with neatly parked customers’ bikes.
Thanks to Shih-Chi and Dizzy for being awesome hosts and taking the time to show us around!
If you’re in Taiwan, definitely check it out!
Mo!Relax Cafe is at 20, Ln 60, Taishun St, Taipei