There is a pureness about PINMO that I cannot really convey to you through mere photographs. Or words. But I will try.
There is a glass wall next to the entrance of PINMO, which lets in just the right amount of mid-day light to illuminate the store. Wooden fixtures exhibit PINMO’s self-manufactured goods, which includes notebooks, journals, bags, pencils. They also put out their own publications – these, too, you can browse and buy at the store. The atmosphere is comfortable and relaxing. A stairway outside the store on the ground floor quickly leads you into a basement. There you can find more goods, and a space where exhibitions are held.
On the day of my visit, Xiao Fu (PINMO’s founder) is busy trying to rearrange the layout of the store. He is meticulous about it, moving things here and there, changing his mind, adjusting angles. He barely notices me. I am left alone to wander from the store to their office. Usually I am embarrassed about interrupting other people at their workspace, but the camera in front of my face renders me invisible and I become free to explore their world. I morph into a pair of eyes, an observer.
The office (connected to the PINMO store by a small door) is dim and messy. It feels like where good ideas are born. I can imagine humid days when designers and creative directors sit together chewing cigarettes and throwing ideas around. You can see books and notes everywhere. They have nice chairs. And towards the end of the rectangular-shaped office is a dining table, followed by a kitchen. A few young employees sit having lunch.
After I photograph the office, I go back to the store, this time without my camera. I hold each product in my hand, weighing it and feeling its texture. Excitement rises in me. It’s the excitement that comes to me whenever I come across something “pure” and authentic, something real. Every PINMO product seems to me to be highly functional and minimalistic, rather than merely pretty. This pureness also extends to the attitude of Xiao Fu, who emphasizes that PINMO allows people time to find out about them, aiming for true connection rather than fast consumerism. The brand has given up opportunities to retail its goods at big-box malls, and is satisfied hiding in a small physical location at Yong Kang Street. Xiao Fu is not worried.
Good things will find their audience, he believes.