BLOB #2 – “T A I P E I – F E N G S H U I”

Karen & I travelled to Taiwan to function as the head artists and designers on a high-concept three-story teen department store project. It was located on the corner of the busiest intersection in central Taipei. We named it “FAST LANE”.

Corner Entrance of “FAST LANE”
Photo: ©Barone

While in Taiwan, we slept only 3 or 4 hours a night. We kept our jet-lag intact so we would wake at 3:00 am to sketch and scribble notes in preparation for our morning meetings.

Each morning a driver in a Taiwanese version of a shiny black Town car would pick us up at the Palace hotel and bring us to the offices of the project architects where the creative team of about fifteen or so early twenty-somethings gathered in a conference room to wait for the CEO and us to arrive.

The CEO was high-fashion chic, all in black and perfectly coiffed. Like most Taiwanese, she was Chinese. She was dynamic and all business. As the head of Sunrise Department Store, she was the head fashion buyer. She identified what was “in” or “out”, set trends, and partnered with the Paris and New York Fashion houses. She negotiated all contracts and was the decision maker in hiring us.

Sunrise was a high-end designer retailer and the largest department store in Taiwan (think: Macy’s meets Bloomingdale’s, meet’s Bendel’s). The CEO of Sunrise was the CEO of our “Fast Lane” project. The department store, and it seemed everything else, was owned by the largest textile-manufacturing group in Taiwan.

On one particular morning, we were already in the conference room when the CEO arrived. She walked in carrying a roll of plans and calmly said, “We have a problem!” She always spoke perfect English, as did most of the young creatives. She was always calm. She did not need to raise her voice to get everyone’s attention. All she needed to do was say something like, “We have a problem.”

The CEO had submitted our floor plans for Feng Shui review. The Feng Shui Master had informed her “having the main entrance on the corner, where we had logically placed it, was ‘bad Feng Shui”.  He said it had to be located away from the corner and down the block 100 feet! Our first and immediate reaction was “you’re kidding!” which did not translate too well.

To put this into perspective: we had a location with a corner entrance on perhaps the busiest “pedestrian crossing in the world” and we were not allowed to utilize it.  I  had studied Feng Shui and I understood where this Taiwanese Feng Shui Master of the philosophy was coming from. However, I had only practiced it in the United States where the clients requesting its application were more interested in its trendy marketing and feel good use. They were not quite as devout as the Chinese and marketing practicality trumped devotion every time. Americans, on the whole, utilized “Black Hat” Feng Shui, an extremely liberal practice which allowed easy overriding cures for bad Feng Shui.

The CEO turned to Karen and asked “What shall we do?” Karen, a/k/a Miss Practical … Miss-Form-Follows-Function … Miss Location – Location – Location had an immediate response…

“The solution is easy – get a new Feng Shui Master!”

“Nooooooo weeee can’t doooo thaaat!” was the CEO’s excited response. We had not seen this level of emotion from her previously.

We went into full crisis mode and began revision “cloud” drawings to modify the plans. Fortunately, we only had to use a pencil to sketch and point. The architectural team had to spend the rest of the day implementing our ideas and instructions for the NEW Feng-Shui-friendly main entrance.


How does one draw customers to an entrance which is 100 feet further away from where it should be? You use every eye-catching and pleasure release trick in the book. You make their efforts worth-while and reward them when they get there.

We created a 1950’s Hell’s Angels-ish logo for Fast Lane. A motorcycle wheel with golden wings coming out of each side. From there we create variation graphics for the moth-to-a-flame experience needed to direct teenage customer to our entrance.

Large neon signs with pulsating red hearts flanked by animated wings flapping up and down. We hung the half-dozen over sized signs/art from the high arcade ceiling 5 meters apart along the detour path.

“FAST LANE” Neon Signs
Photo: ©Barone

We flanked the large yellow & black checkerboard trapezoidal doorless entrance portal with drag racing starting lights which raced from floor to ceiling in hypnotic excitement.

It drew in the Taiwanese teenagers by the thousands……

“FAST LANE” Entranceway
Photo: ©Barone
“FAST LANE” Showcase Entrance
Photo: ©Barone

PS: More Taipei stories in a future blob…

BLOB #1 – “F O R W A R D”

I’ve decided to create a blog called “The BLOB”! It will be UNcensored and noticeably UNedited. It will hop around from subject to subject, time to time and place to place. It will have no rigid form or structure… much like a BLOB!

I’ll be assembling and writing The BLOB from a perfect place – Karen and my artists’ studio in the Southern California Desert. Karen, the-girl-of-my-dreams and the-love-of-my-life, and I have named this place “Paradiso Secco”.

Curb view of Barone Studio
Photo: ©’15 James SchnepF

Without ever realizing, we had followed recommendations made by the Columbian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  In an interview he gave after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for literature, he said “during the day an artist should live on a desert island to do their work and at night they should go to the middle of life.”

In the microcosm we call “the Desert”, we have created a “desert island” paradise to make and live our art. A place created of controlled perfection and from which at night we can go to join others in the “middle of life”.

Paradiso Secco “Walking On Water”
Photo: © ’15 Peter Palladino

A dilemma – It could take a lifetime to reveal stories that were created over a lifetime. Especially when the lifetime is still creating stories…


PS: AND if my wise words aren’t enough, I will be adding a photo of a painting or sculpture with “The Back-Story”.