JIA-Inc has been successfully established on the international scene for a few years now. During that time JIA-Inc has carved out a niche for itself with its special mix of Chinese and foreign designed home ware. Nicely Made in China (NMiC) wanted to know more about the Hong Kong based brand, and what makes president and founder Christopher Lin tick.
Christopher, how did you start JIA-Inc?
I worked with leading European home ware brands for almost 2 decades and I sensed there was a niche in that market there. As family structures shift, the traditional and formal meals are not happening as often as they used to. Young professionals, but also young-at-heart seniors, now want something different – something that fits their current lifestyle – not mass-produced but with a touch of uniqueness. That’s how the idea of JIA-Inc came to me. As a Chinese person, (Christopher was born in Taiwan) I like to use my culture as my base. I offer customers something new within a Chinese cultural context. As for the name of the brand, the word ‘JIA’ means home in Chinese.
You hire both foreign and Chinese designers – can you give some insight to this approach?
‘Across boundaries’ is one of the brand’s key aspects. It is beautiful to have exchange and fusion between Asian material, dining habits and mindsets with Western design methodology and lifestyles. With the old distinctions fast disappearing thanks to new means of communication and travel, mindsets in Asia and Western societies are not that different anymore. But it’s still nice to be able to offer an alternative for home ware items, which can be understood in different markets.
How do you select designers?
We select designers who have similar design beliefs to us. We also make contacts through international trade shows in Paris and Frankfurt.
Can you give us the names of the designers who collaborate with JIA-Inc?
We like to work with Scottish-born Nicol Boyd and Tomas Rosén from Sweden, who have opened their own studio « Office for Product Design » here in Hong Kong. We also work with Chinese designers such as Professor Chang Yong-Ho from Beijing and Kate Chung from Taiwan.
Given your presence in many countries, do you find that different products succeed in different markets?
Yes, to some extent our product assortment varies from country to country, but, luckily, most of our products seem to be well accepted across the different markets.
Do you see rising production costs becoming an issue, despite that persistent expectation that Chinese products have to be cheap?
Yes – this is inevitable as more and more Chinese factories continue to improve the quality and service they offer.
Are you thinking of expanding your range of products beyond the kitchen and the dining room?
Our prime focus will remain on dining tableware and some additional cookware items, as eating is such a big part of Chinese culture. However, we don’t intend to limit our collections to just kitchenware.
How many collections do you produce every year? How often do you add products to your existing range?
The product lines continue to grow. We try to show 5-8 product lines (20-40 new items) each year at the trade fairs.
Can you give Nicely Made in China a peek into your next collection?
Our new collection will be centered on Chinese culture. We are currently cooperating with the National Palace Museum in Taipei and hope to convert a traditional Emperor’s piece for use in modern daily life.