I am sitting at a small table in Bai Win Antiques situated next to a stately bed overflowing with wrapped Christmas wreaths. Faye Angevine, recovering from surgery, sits across from me in a wheelchair; throughout the interview she rolls back and forth ceaselessly, still not accustomed to holding still. At one point she pauses and looks back at a couple inspecting a recreation of a Taiwanese kitchen. “Do you need help?” She asks them. “I’m being interviewed believe it or not. It doesn’t look like it, I’m eating a sandwich, but I am.” She is a busy woman. In addition to running Bai Win Antiques, she dedicates a great deal of time to issues she cares about.
Bai Win primarily sells antiques and recreations, but Ms. Angevine also owns a series of small connected rooms packed with clothes, jewelry and art. “I’m not into clothes,” she confessed to me. “So I had to open the showroom for a purpose.” Consequently, all or most of the money made from sales in the showroom go to a cause. Scattered around the room are demonstrations of her many passions: here information on an animal sanctuary, there jewelry made by women survivors of abuse. On one black table sits a plaque with information on the Red Room.
If you’ve been to the Red Room in recent months, you’ve probably found yourself lounging on the pillow covered dynasty bed, or plucked a book from its shelves. You’ve probably also wandered to the back of the room from time to time, to scoop up a delicious snack from the wooden table with splayed legs. What you may not have realized is both pieces come from Bai Win Antiques, one of the oldest antique stores in Taiwan. Naturally, all the pieces featured in the Red Room from Bai Win are either Taiwanese antiques or recreations and, according to Faye, are a unique and display of Taiwanese culture and skill.
So how does a purveyor of Taiwanese and Chinese antiques come to be involved with a community like the Red Room? “Roma Mehta!” she tells me when I ask her, throwing her hand up in the air with flourish. Roma, she said, had always been there to support her and her passions, and she felt she needed to support Roma’s. When she heard Roma speak about Red Room, she showed up. There she discovered a community which allows “artists to come and perform and create” and quickly concluded it was an “important”, and even necessary, part of society. She’s continued to attend Red Room events over the last half decade.
“Red Room kind of reminds me of my hippie days in the 60s– 60s and 70s,” she laughs before launching to an account of meeting other hitchhikers, playing music, and talking while traveling through Europe. “Wild times, I’m telling ya,” she pauses and looks away, a nostalgic grin on her face. “The Red Room actually reminds me of that era, that period of my life.” I ask her if she has a favorite memory of a Red Room event and she quickly launches into the story of an adventurer she’d once brought to a Red Room event: “He was in World War II [and], I mean, he invaded Mussolini’s mother’s village. [Now] he had tales to tell.”
Half a decade has afforded her a lot of time to explore the different facets of Red Room and she’s developed a taste for certain Red Room events, particularly StageTime & Juice, for the community’s creativity and enthusiasm; and Aside@TheRedRoom for the polish curated events offer. Faye has been present at many Red Room events, but she’s never been a watcher. So, when Red Room moved to a new space, she gladly provided furniture for Red Room to use and showcase.
Like many others Red Room, for her, is so much more than a space. The Red Room community accepts other communities, Faye declares, and that’s why she plans on joining the Red Room in organizing future events dedicated to animals (another one of her passions). Ultimately, for Faye, most things worth pursuing contribute to the community around them and Red Room does exactly that.
As for the pieces at the Red Room, all of the antiques currently at the Red Room are available for purchase, and she’s assured me that all of them can easily be replaced lest we miss them. If you’d like to hear the story behind the wonderful antiques showcased at the Red Room, or about Faye’s work as a dog rescuer, please visit Bai Win Antiques in Taipei’s Shilin District!