- Hong Kong
- Hannah Rose Symons
Hong Kong is considered a gateway to the lucrative and prosperous Asia-Pacific consumer market. The city has recently seen a rise in start-ups, as well as Western designers taking up residence to be closer to the nearby Southern manufacturing provinces in China. Here is a list of the city’s most celebrated contemporary product designers, who combine form with function to create fluid, flawless design.
Terry Chow of FOXCAT
His revolutionary Ni LED Parasol has taken the Hong Kong design awards circuit by storm, picking up three honors in just the last year. Accolades to date for Terry Chow and his brand FOXCAT include winning silver twice at the A’ Design Awards in the Street Furniture Design Category, and the Lighting Products and Lighting Projects Category. Chow’s sunshade-cum-lamp is a unique concept which allows a garden party or outdoor commercial event to make the smooth transition between night and day. With limited design experience Chow brings a fresh pair of eyes to the field, producing functional pieces for a market which, in a city with little to no recreational or residential outdoor space, is very niche.
Michael Young has established himself as one of the East’s most sought after designers, working in a broad range of areas from interior to technology. Originally from the UK, Young saw the potential in the eastern market accessible via Hong Kong, and made the city his home in 2006. The pioneering technological advances coming from Hong Kong and China enticed Young to set up camp so he could work alongside home-grown industrialists to deliver the most innovative designs in synthesis with local methods. From sex toys to cars, there’s little Michael Young hasn’t tried his hand at. Young’s list of achievements is exhaustive, including three Red Dot Awards and a Tokyo Design Award 2011, not to mention collaborations with Coca Cola, Bacardi and Georg Jensen.
Chi-Wing Lee of Milk Design
Chi-Wing Lee of Milk Design specializes in corporate, living and digital design. His brand name reflects the simplicity and functionality of his products which he believes are necessary components for the smooth functioning of our everyday lives –like milk, for instance. Milk Design is primarily a provider of lifestyle products intended to enhance the mundane tasks of daily life and make for a trouble-free relationship between human and product. Chi-Wing Lee’s design education in both Hong Kong and Paris has afforded him success in both hemispheres; in Europe in interior design and in Hong Kong working on telecommunication design.
Frédéric Gooris of Studio Gooris Ltd.
Despite being born in Belgium, industrial designer Frédéric Gooris has been honored by Hong Kong as one of the city’s own since 2010. Gaining his experience in Europe, Gooris established a diverse product and client portfolio working in Milan with the likes of Seiko, Levi’s and Nissan to name only a few. Gooris swears by a set of guidelines which he believes are simple and effective for creating consistently sought-after products. Gooris promises to inject emotion and functionality into his designs, which enhance the daily lives of consumers and make the product desirable. Storytelling is at the core of Gooris’s creations, as he is a strong believer that emotional attachment is what makes products coveted.
Douglas Young of G.O.D
G.O.D, or Goods of Desire, is a contemporary lifestyle store with a reputable name in Hong Kong, selling a selection of novel products from stationary to tableware designed in-house by CEO and founder Douglas Young. Young specializes in taking iconic symbols and sights of Hong Kong, like the Double Happiness logo, and turning them into humorous and quirky homeware and lifestyle pieces. Having trained as an architect, Young utilizes his trained eye to transfer the recognizable facades of the city’s east-meets-west aesthetic onto everyday objects. Young is dedicated to preserving the identity of Hong Kong and giving the local consumers something which represents their home that is not only tangible but also created and manufactured in the local community. Young and G.O.D have worked in partnership with Canon, Swarovski and Microsoft and earned accolades including a Design for Asia Award and an Outstanding Greater China Design Award.
Johan Persson of C’monde Studios
Swede Johan Persson heads industrial design company C’monde Studios which has enjoyed continuous success from its base in Hong Kong. His career spans 15 years and sees Persson go from sneaker designer in Italy to becoming a managing and creative director in Hong Kong, eventually heading up his own studio. C’monde Studios masterminded the updated version of the city’s Octopus Card reader, a reusable smart card used to make electronic payments on public transport and in various big name chain stores. Other acclaimed products from Persson include a fuel cell powered bike which he views as a research project on the future of transport above anything else.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University has been a springboard for many of the city’s industry leaders due to its extensive and prestigious design courses and facilities. One member of its alumni community, Freeman Lau, is now considered a national treasure. Held in such high regard for his commercial work, Lau has been recognised by the government for his positive contribution to the identity of Hong Kong, in addition to holding seat as the Secretary General of Hong Kong Federation of Design Associations. Lau remains loyal to his homeland, with his work on the Watson’s Water bottle undoubtedly being his most famous. An instantly recognisable and revolutionary plastic bottle design, it won him the Bottledwaterworld Design Award along with praise for its commercial triumph and its sensitivity to the local cultural movement.
Although no longer resident in the city, David Turpin spent an influential decade of his career in Hong Kong collaborating with other local designers and engineers to become, and remain, a renowned name in his field. Some of Turpin’s most notable industrial work has been on telephone handsets, including designing alongside acclaimed Michael Young at Native Union, a locally based brand which received international praise for its retro POP Phone.
Sean Dix is best known for his contemporary furniture design which has an elegant and minimalist feel. Like many, Dix is an expatriate who, after spending a large proportion of his career in Europe, couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be based closer to his manufacturers and their factories in nearby Guangzhou. US-born Dix is the sole visionary and creator behind his extensive product portfolio, one which specializes in furniture that takes residence in furniture limbo, somewhere between office and residential.
A graphic designer by trade, Alan Chan is a creative specializing in a multitude of areas to critical claim in Hong Kong and worldwide. Over 5 decades Chan has won over countless professionals and critics in the industry, culminating in his watch designs being put on permanent display in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art‘s Collection of Architecture and Design. Counting interiors, posters and packaging as just a few of his expert areas, Chan’s most notable product design projects are collaborations with Seiko watches and Alessi luxury kitchenware.
By Hannah Rose Symons