Nicole Teng, founder of the upcycling design brand, ‘Brut Cake’, had many years of experience in advertising. However, she felt that her life should not only be about this industry, so she left Taiwan to go to Germany to study painting. Following this, she was relocated to Shanghai for work where she continued to study painting and porcelain making during her free time, and swapped her job as an advertiser to become a gallery manager. During her time at the gallery, Nicole was able to explore the various alleyways in Shanghai and discover the discarded furniture and homewares. She began to see the hidden potential in these old, forgotten objects.
From here, Nicole began to upcycle and experiment with these discarded objects to express the ideas she had in her mind. Rusty pipes and faucets were transformed into chandeliers, scattered screw caps were transformed into candleholders, and an old cast iron bathtub transformed into a desk once a wooden board was placed over the top of it. Nicole is also well known for the unique style in which she upholsters old furniture with old fabrics – in fact, she often weaves them into quirky expressions; be it a smile, a smirk or a frown.
She has gone from being questioned about her methods of collecting and selling what others consider to be trash, to being recognised as an ‘upcycling’ designer with her own brand. Nicole explores and develops the value of old things and reduces the wastage that occurs too often in the world today. Her brand is called ‘Brut Cake’ – ‘Brut’ meaning primitive art, and ‘Cake’ meaning dessert. Through her work, she hopes to bring surprise and happiness to people.
Nicole Teng is an unreasonable person.
Watch our interview with her.