On Friday, Beijing based e-commerce design start-up Nuandao, publicly launched to the media. Taking inspiration from one of America’s hottest start-ups, Fab.com, Nuandao promotes Chinese products that have a focus on unique quality design at flash sale prices on a weekly basis. It does this by curating well designed products from mainly independent Chinese designers and showcasing it to the Chinese design-lover community.
Fab.com burst onto the start-upscene a year ago and has already experienced phenomenal success by selling designer products for up to 70% off. The start-up is aiming to hit US$100 M in revenue this year and has already raised US$51 M from leading investors such as Andreessen Horowitz and SV Angel. It was only a matter of time before a similar business model would be transposed to China.
The angel-funded team’s advantage is that they understand and value design, like the community of people they are serving. This knowledge and intuition, is something that cannot be easily replicated. Crystal is also professional wedding photographer and Natasia studied contemporary art and creative culture and says “These designers are my friends. I wanted to create a space for them to feel comfortable to express their creativity.”
Nuandao really operates as an online and offline platform. On the online side, they sell several products from selected designers from Monday to Friday at up to 50%. Although you might expect to pay very expensive prices for high quality designer products, Nuandao doesn’t just curate products based on quality or price, but rather good design. Natasia says “We are just as happy to sell something that’s 20RMB as 2000RMB”. Nuandao’s blog is already popular with 350K fashion and design enthusiasts. On the offline side, Nuandao has organized a number of ‘pop-up shops’ to showcase products to the public in an intimate environment. Last December, they did a ‘Christmas Concept Store’ at Jam Bar in Beijing and over past weekend, in conjunction with the Jue design festival, they held a ‘Spring Awakening’ design market at the LD Design Center.
I went along to the ‘Spring Awakening’ market to check out how Nuandao is able to connect a community of designers and design enthusiasts together. There were a number of designers selling a wide variety of things such as clothing, hand-made glass plant cases, unique hand painted fixy-bicycles and jewellery. I spoke to French Jeweller, Nicholas who said “Nuandao has already brought many people to his store through Weibo.” Another French kids clothing designer, Emily of Tang’ Roulou believes Nuandao can help them “increase their network of designers and can start new collaborations.” Creative Director of NLGX, a popular lifestyle products company, Michel Sutyadi said Nuandao “gives a good opportunity for independent designers to put their work on display and get publicity.”
With China’s growing wealth, more attention has been spread across many areas including arts and culture. Due to China’s goal of moving from ‘Made in China’ to ‘Designed in China’, the promotion of good quality, distinctive design is the next evolution of mass market production. Start-ups like Nuandao who see the vision, are well placed to make an impact on not just designers’ businesses’ but showing both China and the world, how talented Chinese designers really are.