The website of Mo!Relax, a café-cum-studio in Taipei: bringing together designers in a pleasant work/leisure environment.

Taipei Report: Mo!Relax Cafe

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…

Packaging design from Mo!Relax: Wallet 2.0
Package design for Japanese Quizmaster’s “The Great Buildings of Quizmaster” CD.

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.

Late night hype: folks chilling and working at the café.

Taipei Infrastructure

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 bar inside Mo!Relax.

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

  • Anonymous

    i love taiwan!!!

  • anthony

    wooooord son. word.

  • Matt Schuster

    I want to move there.

  • John Thomas

    not so interesting article this one!

  • vaneea

    I can definitely use this kind of cafe here.

  • nign

    Some additional background: many of the part-time staffs also work in design- or art-related fields. They work at Mo! to supplement their income. The clientele is heavy on creative industry people.

    The postcards featured in one picture is the work of one of the staff, Oly. You can find more of her work at her Flickr——-/

  • Anonymous

    Many of these cafe can’t make money end up shutting down. cheers to Starbucks around the corner.

  • nign

    Um, the URL looks weird, but it’s real.——-/

  • miggleniggle

    I like my coffee shop better here in S.F.
    kiss my ass.

  • not a regular

    I’m not a big Mo! lover (the smoker ratio there is too high for my lung to continue functioning), and it’s the product of a particular culture that may not survive in another environment, but it’s been around for some years, does good business and is unlikely to shut down anytime soon.

    Beside the cheap rent, Mo! has also established its own customer basis and has become the networking ground for many in the design industry. As others (just a couple; small place here) that were once in that position have shut down in recent years/ months, Mo! is likely to continue flourishing for a least another half decade. The life cycle of such shops seems to be in the 1~1.5 decade range; they usually close because owners don’t like the newer clientele — too mainstream, making them feel that their out-of-the-way little cafe have become upscale Starbucks and not on-the-fringe artsy conclave spot.

  • Graham

    This seems lower in quality than most of PingMag’s articles… almost reads more like an advert.

  • Marze

    I’m going in october!!! Wahh, Does anybody knows other design-related places to go in Taiwan? Or places to meet other designers would be nice too!!!

  • James Butte

    What’s up with the lame comments this time around? Jerks!

  • dizzy
  • not a regular

    Re: Marze

    “Design-related places” is a pretty loose term, and I’m not sure what kind of “design” you’re into. The local scene is pretty Etsy-ish in my opinion, and not everyone is into that kind of stuffs…

    Anyway, ZABU Studio is another hot spot similar to Mo!. It’s a cafe-cum-gallery-cum-design shoppe. This is their blog (in Chinese)

  • tzyychou

    OMG I miss Morelax!!

  • selena

    Thanks Dizzy for posting your flickr! And thanks to the commenter above giving useful advice for other cool spots to visit in Taipei. To the commenter who said that this article “reads like an ad” – we didn’t know these people at all before visiting Mo!Relax – but were very impressed by them as people, by what they were trying to do, and by the low-key, creative, and vibrant scene that we found there. We thought that Taipei was a place that doesn’t get that much attention outside of Taiwan, and that others visiting the area might be interested in MR as a good place to get a feel for the local buzz – especially since it seems to be a good jumping off point for other cool places, as lots of proprietors and staff of other like minded establishments (indie rock clubs, other cool cafés, etc.) also hang out there. Thanks very much to the other Taiwan-based commenters who have contributed to an informational conversation for other folks who are interested in visiting this fair city.

  • Barbigirl

    Stencil on the wall is very nice!! Kiss Barbi from Hungary

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