AsiaStore Blog - Products

Blogging the Accessories Show

The AsiaStore buying team headed over to the Accessories Show in New York yesterday. Our mission: to find the bold statement jewelry and unique textiles that AsiaStore’s discerning customers love. In particular, we were looking for metallic pieces and items to complement Asia Society’s Fall exhibition on Kashmir. We visited the booths of some of our favorite AsiaStore designers and were also able to find some exciting new design talent!


Jewelry designer Iradj was camera shy, but we were able to snap a pic of the jewelry assortment that we ordered at the show. You will love the jeweled snake bracelets!


The lovely Rose Ajmera holds a shawl she designed especially for AsiaStore. Adorned with Kashmir’s signature chinar leaf, this shawl with leather leaf accents is sure to be a big hit this winter.


Anne and Rose pic out colors for AsiaStore’s fall/winter assortment.


Anne had met with handbag designer Christina Yu while she was in Hanoi on her buying trip, and we stopped by her booth at the show to say “hello.”


We loved designer Xing Fei’s beaded pieces and chose an assortment in metallic colors to fit in with our Fall/Winter assortment.

Be sure to stop by AsiaStore this Fall to view and purchase these items!

Green Design: Chalong Ngamkird

Green design is becoming increasingly popular nowadays as we become more sensitive to the effect our actions have on the environment.

Designer Chalong Ngamkird, a native of Thailand, elevates recycling to an art form by utilizing the remnants of old houses in his designs. His frames and trays are fashioned of the reclaimed wood, and even the paint and colors are original to the structures from which they came. The one-of-a-kind results are nothing short of beautiful.

To purchase the designs of Chalong Ngamkird, please visit us at AsiaStore at AsiaSociety and Museum.

AsiaStore’s Summer Reading List

The warm days of summer are finally here, and if you’re heading to the beach and are looking for a good read, be sure to visit AsiaStore where our world renowned collection of books suit every interest and personality.

Planning to to take a summer vacation? Visit our travel section for a comprehensive selection of travel guides to all areas of Asia.


Not leaving home, but planning some armchair traveling? Sit back, relax, and choose from our large selection of travel accounts.


Love a good mystery? Book buyer Lauren Smith recommends The Broken Shore, written by Peter Temple, one of the finest crime writers in Australia. Some other good reads include Bangkok Haunts and The Chinese Alchemist.

If you loved the Joy Luck Club, then be sure to check out The Hindi-Bindi Club. This book about female bonding is an elegant tapestry of East and West, that is even peppered with recipes!

New at AsiaStore: Yuh Okano


AsiaStore is thrilled to be carrying Textiles Yuh, a line of scarves and shawls by Japanese textile designer Yuh Okano. Okano, who is a graduate of Rhode Island School of Design divides her time between her home in New York, and Kiryu Japan, where her fabrics are produced.

Okano’s one-of-a-kind fabrics reflect her attraction to the delicate patterns and textures found in nature; the scent of the air after a storm, the soft patter of raindrops on wet grass, falling leaves as they twirl through the sky. Okano’s collection of light-as-air shawls and scarves are perfect for cool summer evenings. Stop by AsiaStore to see her innovative line in person!

(photo by Theo Coulombe)

Summer at AsiaStore

Treasures from the AsiaStore buying trip have started to arrive and we couldn’t be any more excited here at AsiaStore! Our store windows at 70th street between 3rd and Park Avenues showcase our new gorgeous summer set.

Be sure to stop by the store before you head to the beach! The store is brimming with batik products from buyer Anne Godshall’s recent trip to Bali. You’ll find beach bags, sandals, fans, cosmetic cases and more in a variety of colorful prints. As Anne witnessed on her trip, each of these items are handmade with tender loving care and you’ll see that in the quality of the goods.

We’re also thrilled to have handbags from Indian designer Kavita Bhartia in store. Her bags are both eclectic and innovative, incorporating trendy Western silhouettes with age old Indian techniques such as block printing and hand embroidery.

You will also love our new stackable offering baskets from Bali. These gorgeous hand painted boxes are available in five sizes and are perfect for storing everything from photographs to toys and knickknacks.

Be sure to read Anne’s previous blog entries here about her buying trip before you head down to the store. Learning about the origins of these products will make your AsiaStore purchase feel all the more special!

Asian American Designer Spotlight:Karen Ford

Karen Ford is a second generation Chinese American, whose goal as a ceramicist is to enhance the everyday ritual of eating, drinking, and living by making it a beautiful, calm and peaceful experience. Karen has been making her award-winning Asian-inspired porcelain and glass work in her Westport, CT studio since 1998. After graduation from the Fashion Institute of Technology, she initially pursued a career in advertising, but a pottery class at Parsons School of Design changed the course of her life…

When and how did you start making ceramics?

After working in advertising production for a few years I had just had my son and decided to take a course down the street at Parsons. I wasn’t very good at first but there was something really calming yet challenging about working in clay.

What made you decide to pursue ceramics as a full time career?

When we moved to CT from the city I signed up for a course at Silvermine, an art center in New Canaan. I think my teacher/mentor saw a dedication and interest in me that went beyond just taking class once a week. I spent my three hours in the studio but she got me involved in an outreach program teaching 1st graders in Norwalk. I really was open to learning all about clay and sharing what I had learned with other people. My teacher offered me a teaching job a year later and I then realized that this is something I want to learn more about. I was trying to get as much information as possible to keep one step ahead of my students but found that there are so many different ways to approach ceramics that I decided to just dive in and try everything.


Can you describe your current collection at AsiaStore and the techniques used to make your designs?

For this spring/summer I have chosen items from nature to create texture and interest in the porcelain. By using seasonal natural items as a source, this forces me to change designs and adapt to what it available at that time. It keeps the work fresh and allows me to limit my production. I press shells, sea urchins, palm fronds and other tropical leaves into each piece bringing a fresh look to my organic forms. The bamboo glaze breaks in the texture creating an earthy depth to the design. I melt pieces of glass on top of the glaze which forms an abstract pool of translucent color which fuses and forms a smooth glossy surface making the work functional.

Your designs are quite beautiful, but as you mentioned, they are also very functional. Are they dishwasher and microwave safe?

Yes, all my work is high fired porcelain so because of the strength of the material and the firing technique it is all dishwasher safe. I put cups and bowls in the microwave but would be cautious with any thin flatware.

How has your Chinese heritage influenced your designs?

My maternal Grandfather owned a restaurant in Arlington, VA. Holidays, celebrations of birth and marriage and even mourning evolved around a meal or banquet. Many courses of food having significant meaning (e.g. Noodles+ longevity, red eggs are considered auspicious) are served family style at a large round table. My work celebrates the union of family and friends in a communal fashion.

In my personal quest to connect with my heritage, I’ve always been drawn to historical Asian ceramics – porcelain in particular. These works of art are strikingly beautiful, yet their function plays a strong role in culture, community and ritual. When I create a piece, I honor this tradition.

What type of lessons do you try to instill in your students?

Our society is so goal oriented that if you approach clay with that same mind
set you are bound to be frustrated. Throwing on a wheel is not something that comes
easy, it takes a lot of practice to feel comfortable. At first I try and teach them to let go of the outcome. I teach technique and process and the actual making of pieces evolves once the student relaxes and becomes more comfortable with the material. After the 4th week or so things start coming together and they do make pieces that are really very good.


How did you come to sell your designs at AsiaStore, and what does it mean to you to have your designs sold at AsiaStore at Asia Society and Museum?

When Asia Society renovated 5 or 6 years ago I had attended a show at the museum and was so impressed with the store that I felt I had to have my work there. I sent AsiaStore’s buyer Anne some slides of my work and we met and the rest is history! We seem to be able to collaborate on ideas and I feel very lucky to be a part of AsiaStore’s vision.

As an artist it is important to have your work seen in the right place. AsiaStore encourages and promotes the work of Asian and Asian-American artists and designers. It’s wonderful to be in the company of quality work in a beautiful setting.

Asian American Designer Spotlight: Richard Tsao

Artist turned designer, Richard Tsao, has been attracting attention with his hand crafted Thai silk collection which debuted at AsiaStore in 2001. Tsao’s versatile cocoon fashions can now be spotted everywhere, from the streets of Manhattan to VIP galas. Dividing his time between New York and his native Bangkok, Tsao produces two collections a year, introducing new custom colors seasonally.

You are classically trained as an abstract painter. How did you end up designing clothing in addition to your artwork?

SIX YEARS AGO ON A TRIP HOME TO VISIT MY MOTHER AND SIBLINGS, I WENT TO MY TAILOR WITH THIS IDEA THAT I WANTED TO HAVE HIM SEW ELASTIC ONTO THIS BEAUTIFUL THAI SILK THAT I HAD, AND CREATE A COCOON LIKE JACKET. I LIKED THE IDEA THAT THE ELASTIC ALLOWED FOR A PIECE OF GARMENT (SUCH AS MY NIECE’S BATHING SUITS) TO BE “ONE SIZE FITS MANY.” AT FIRST HE RESISTED DOING IT AND SAID IT WASN’T POSSIBLE, BUT AFTER 5 WEEKS OF LOTS AND LOTS OF TRIAL AND ERROR AND TWEAKING, WE FINALLY SUCCEEDED WITH A FEW PROTOTYPES THAT I BROUGHT BACK TO NYC. I REALLY DIDN’T KNOW WHAT I WAS GOING TO DO WITH THEM ONCE I WAS BACK IN NYC SINCE I WAS RELUCTANT TO HAVE AN THING TO DO WITH THE RETAIL WORLD. PRIOR TO ASIASTORE I WOULD JUST SELL FOR FUN TO FRIENDS OUT OF MY APT.

Is there any correlation between your paintings and your clothing designs?

PEOPLE WHO KNOW BOTH MY CLOTHING AND MY ART WORK SAY THAT THE EXUBERANT SENSE OF COLOR AND THE TEXTURES ARE VERY MUCH LIKE MY PAINTINGS. ALSO THE ELEMENT OF TIME. MY PAINTINGS TAKE ABOUT TWO ARE MORE YEARS TO COMPLETE EACH ONE.

Our buyer, Anne Godshall loves to tell the story of how you came to sell your designs at AsiaStore. Can you tell us the story in your own words?

I CAME BACK TO NEW YORK CITY FROM THAILAND A WEEK BEFORE THE 9/11 TRAGEDY. WHEN 9/11 HAPPENED, SINCE I HAD BEEN FREELANCING, ALL OF MY PROJECTS – MY ONLY SOURCE OF INCOME FELL APART. AND I HAD SPENT ALL MY MONEY WHILE TRAVELLING IN THAILAND AND I THINK BURMA AT THAT TIME. I WAS A MEMBER OF THE ASIA SOCIETY, AND FRIEND ENCOURAGED ME TO BRING SOME DESIGNS TO SHOW TO ASIASTORE. I RESISTED FOR AWHILE, BUT THEN THOUGHT WHY NOT GIVE IT A TRY? I SHOWED UP WITH A BIG GARBAGE BAG OF THE COCOONS, WITH VERY FEW EXPECTATIONS AND ANNE OFFERED TO DISPLAY THEM ON THE PRESENT WALL (I BELIEVE ORIGINALLY THAT WALL WAS MEANT FOR ANTIQUES.) WELL, THE COCOONS FOUND AN AUDIENCE RIGHT AWAY IT SEEMS AND 6 YEARS LATER, SALES STILL SEEM TO BE GOING STRONG!

You have an interesting way of taking old world production techniques and design and using it in a very contemporary way. How has your Asian background influenced your designs?

I LIKE THE SIMPLICITY OF ASIAN GARMENTS. THE WRAP OR THE SIMPLE LINES, PARTICULARLY WHEN THEY ARE LAID OUT FLAT ON THE TABLE. THERE IS SOMETHING VERY BEAUTIFUL AND SERENE ABOUT THEM WHEN THEY ARE LAID OUT FLAT ALMOST LIKE FLOOR PLANS. I GREW UP AROUND THAI SILK SINCE MY MOTHER ALWAYS HAD BEAUTIFUL THAI SILK DRESSES MADE. I ALSO USE TO LOVE TO GO TO SILK STORES WITH HER. THE INDIAN MARKET IN BANGKOK WHERE THEY SELL FABRICS IS SUCH A FUN PLACE TO VISIT. WATCHING THE WEAVERS IN NORTHERN THAILAND WEAVE THE SILK THREAD BY THREAD ALWAYS FASCINATED ME! AND TO THINK THAT THIS BEAUTIFUL PRODUCT COMES FROM A RATHER UNATTRACTIVE CREATURE LIKE THE SILK WORM.

Your Mandarin Cocoon jackets are incredible. One size really does fit all and the colors are spectacular. Rumor has it that it takes one week to produce the 50 yards of silk for each jacket. Is this true? Can you tell us more about the production process that goes into your designs?

IT TAKES ONE WEEK TO WEAVE 50 YARDS OF SILK SINCE IT IS STILL WOVEN ON THE OLD FASHION HAND LOOM. HENCE THE LITTLE KNOTS FROM TIME TO TIME. IT TAKES ABOUT ONE WHOLE DAY TO CONSTRUCT ONE COCOON JACKET. THE ELASTIC IS ACTUALLY SEWN ONTO THE SILK AFTER IT IS WOVEN. IF THIS WAS HIGH TECH WEAVING THEN I GUESS IT WOULD BE A MUCH SIMPLER PROCESS, BUT I DO LIKE THE HANDS OWN AND VERY HANDMADE ASPECT OF THE COCOONS. PRODUCTION IS KEPT SMALL. LUCKILY SO FAR I HAVE A “RECOGNIZABLE PRODUCT THAT SELLS ITSELF”–AND I HOPE THEY CONTINUE TO SELL SINCE THE INCOME HAS BEEN MOST HELPFUL FOR ME AS AN ARTIST.

What does it mean to you to have your designs sold at AsiaStore at the Asia Society and Museum?

I AM VERY FLATTERED AND VERY HAPPY TO HAVE MY DESIGNS AT THE BEAUTIFUL AND UNIQUE ASIASTORE. (THANKS TO ANNE!) AND TO THINK THAT THIS IS YEAR NUMBER SIX MAKES IT ALL THE MORE UNREAL. I DID NOT THINK THAT THE COCOONS WOULD LAST THIS LONG BUT IT SEEMS LIKE THE INTEREST JUST CONTINUES TO GROW.

Thanks Richard!
Be sure to visit AsiaStore at Asia Society and Museum to view and purchase Richard Tsao’s designs. Check back at the AsiaStore Blog where we will be posting interviews with our Asian American Designers throughout the month of May.

AsiaStore on The View!

Asia Society’s Deanna Lee made a personal appearance on The View this morning where she spoke about the Chinese New Year and showcased products from AsiaStore. Among them was AsiaStore’s Mooncake baby jacket by Forgotten Shanghai. Rosie liked the jacket so much, she wanted to take it home for her daughter!

Watch the View segment here

Please visit AsiaStore at Asia Society and Museum to purchase the Mooncake jacket.