Tai Ping was founded in British Hong Kong in 1956 by brothers Lawrence and Horace Kadoorie and a group of international friends with the noble aims of developing industry and providing employment to migrant workers. While a small textile presence existed in the colony before Tai Ping, it was entrepreneurial Chinese refugees who modernised the industry with advanced equipment and expertise.
During this time, many international companies were setting up operations in Hong Kong, so it’s fitting that Tai Ping’s founding Board reflected the colony’s most prominent immigrant communities – Chinese, European and American – with the Kadoorie brothers acting as a bridge between them.
A humble 2-storey villa was the original home of Tai Ping, but a purpose-built factory soon followed as demand increased from around the world.
For more than six decades, Tai Ping has celebrated the philanthropic values of its founders by upholding a tradition of compassion for employees and community.
The story of Tai Ping is not only that of an individual company, but it also reflects the extraordinary changes and development of Hong Kong and the Asia-Pacific region since the Second World War, and in particular of course the dramatic rise of China from the latter part of the twentieth century.
In 1956, Hong Kong had only just recovered from the trauma of the Japanese occupation of 1941-45. The population was surging due to immigration and industrialisation was starting to take off.
Tai Ping was born out of the influx of labour from China and the need to create jobs for the rapidly increasing population. In this way, it was a leader in Hong Kong’s industrialisation process which developed such momentum from the early 1960s. Its Tai Po factory was one of the first industries in the otherwise rural New Territories, providing much-needed employment in the area.
In 1958, Tai Ping was developing an international reputation for its designs and craftsmanship. So much so, they caught the attention of elite American clientele, including the iconic Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California. Famous for immortalising movie stars in cement handprints in the nearby sidewalk, the iconic theatre’s carpet order was the company’s most prestigious to date, but it was so big it didn’t fit within Tai Ping’s modest workshop.
With insufficient space to make the company's largest order to date, workers created a temporary workshop over an adjacent tennis court, covered by a tent that had been acquired from a bankrupt circus.
When the carpet was almost finished, a designer visiting from the U.S. inspected and approved it before rushing off to the airport to catch the last plane before the ferocious Typhoon Ida struck Hong Kong and all flights were suspended. As the intensity of the storm increased, wind strength doubled and the tent collapsed. The entire carpet was almost ruined, but resourceful workers were able to support it on trestles above the soaked ground and they continued to work on the finishing touches from underneath. Workers braved the typhoon to secure the tent until the storm passed.
The carpet was saved and delivered on schedule with much acclaim. A wealth of prestigious orders soon followed and the legend of the Tai Ping tent was born.
In 2004, some 46 years after the Grauman's Chinese Theater carpet ws delivered, the Tai Ping logo was redesigned to incorporate the tent as an everlasting symbol of the company’s resilience and its commitment to customer service.
Tai Ping rapidly established a unique position and reputation globally in the carpet world as a leader in quality and workmanship, becoming the supplier of choice even for presidents and royalty, including Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, the White House, Élysée Palace, the King of Thailand and the Sultan of Brunei.
The throne room at Buckingham Palace has a wall-to-wall red carpet made by Tai Ping, and in 1961 a 6.7x12.2-metre (40x22-foot) rug was commissioned for the White Drawing Room in Windsor Castle. Tai Ping learned that the Queen was so delighted with the rug that she delayed the return of furniture by several days so she could enjoy its full design and share it with friends. She was also pleased to learn that the rug had been made in the British colony of Hong Kong using New Zealand and Scottish wools.