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Designers at Work

 Pure Creative designed Dior’s biggest store in Taipei

Pure Creative designed Dior’s biggest store in Taipei

Hong Kong is enjoying something of a creative renaissance. London’s White Cube and New York’s Gagosian are among the international galleries that have recently opened in the city, while Le French May this year raised the ante by exhibiting the largest Picasso exhibition ever seen in Hong Kong. And collectors are investing in paintings by up-and-coming artists and enlisting Hong Kong design consultancies to head up creative projects. 

Inspired Interiors

Darryl W Goveas 

Darryl W Goveas set up
his interior design agency, Pure Creative International, in
Hong Kong

Pure Creative International, an interior design agency headed by Darryl W Goveas is among the city’s success stories. The agency creates lavish retail spaces for the likes of Fendi and Dior, including Dior’s biggest store in Taipei, and such restaurant venues as Chez Patrick in Wan Chai and cocktail/cigar lounge L’Etage in Soho. 

“Most of my designers are local, and they’re definitely my biggest asset,” Mr Goveas said. “I place a lot of focus on training and don’t segregate creativity from other aspects of the business; it’s a more holistic approach to design.” 

As a luxury interior designer, Mr Goveas has benefited from the consumer goods explosion on the mainland, which now accounts for more than one-third of his business. “We're moving into such second- and third-tier cities as Shenyang, Dalian and Harbin,” he said.                                                                                             

 Danielle Huthard and Louise Wong

Danielle Huthart and Louise Wong are behind Creative City, a design-focused map of Hong Kong

The Indian designer, who set up his business in Hong Kong in 1996, has endured difficult periods over the years but believes his insistence on quality has guaranteed his success. “No one can take that away from you,” he said. “I came here with nothing, but I was willing to work hard, and it’s been a great place to do business,” he added. 

Creativity on the Map

Another Hong Kong design success is Creative City, a design-focused map masterminded by graphic design consultancy Whitespace and Lancashire Road, a communications and strategy consultancy. Following its launch last year, a second edition was published in May. The boldly designed, graphically rich map zooms in on six districts that hold the city’s most creative spots, from galleries and architectural gems, to visually striking restaurants and cafés. 

This boldly designed, graphically rich map zooms in on six districts featuring some of Hong Kong’s m 

This boldly designed, graphically rich map zooms in on six districts featuring some of Hong Kong’s most creative spots

“The idea began after we created a map and guidebook for Business of Design Week,” said Whitespace’s Danielle Huthart. “Then a friend visited and pulled out a standard-issue map and asked, ‘What else is going on?’” 

Ms Huthart said she and business partner, Louise Wong, set about devising a Hong Kong map focused on creativity, with help from the local design community. “We had a great response to the first edition, without even any marketing,” she said. 

The second edition features four limited-edition map sleeves designed by local illustrators and, as with the inaugural map, features contributions from the Savannah College of Art and Design, design collective Graphic Airlines and fashion label Daydream Nation. “It’s about getting people who are living and working in that area to identify the most creative spots,” she said. The map also includes a spread on the best coffee shops to sharpen creativity. 

 Leanne Claxton

Textile designer Leanne Claxton serves international brand clients from her base in Hong Kong

“We noticed that there were more independent coffee shops springing up and, for many creatives, this is a third place beyond home and office, somewhere to hang out and have meetings.” Another map is in the offing, and will feature even more content and artist collaborations.

Art Meets Fashion

Independent creatives are also reaping the rewards, including Briton Leanne Claxton, whose bold prints were featured on a suit for Canto-pop star Eason Chan. A textile graduate of London’s Central Saint Martin’s, Ms Claxton landed a job at Christian Lacroix in Paris on graduation. She then moved to Hong Kong to design for British fashion brand Next and Hong Kong fashion chain Esprit. 

Jaffa Lam 

Hong Kong artist
Jaffa Lam, who incorporates recycled material in her work, has exhibited overseas

Now a part-time designer for supermarket chain Tesco, she designs everything from homeware to stationery for the brand. She has also teamed up with local fashion designer Johanna Ho to form Ho: Claxton, which pairs Ms Ho’s signature ruffles with Ms Claxton’s floral prints in its collections. 

After a second spell in Paris for Lacroix, Ms Claxton returned to Hong Kong. “I missed going to the factories, being in the thick of things. I’ve learned so much working in Hong Kong,” she said, adding, “It seems like there’s a real underground scene beginning to take off here like you’d find in London. It’s not just about Chinese contemporary artists like Yue Minjun any more.”

Sculptor Jaffa Lam, whose large-scale work incorporates such recycled material as crate wood, old furniture and fabric, is also finding success in Hong Kong. Her latest project, “Micro Economy,” features a parachute made from recycled umbrella fabric, and has been exhibited in Hamburg, Melbourne and Shenzhen, as well as Hong Kong. 

 Doveen Schecter

Doveen Schecter, founder, Dove of the East 

“The city is more receptive to art now than it was 10 years ago,” said Ms Lam. “Having internationally acclaimed galleries like Gagosian and White Cube is a positive step, because it means Hong Kongers get to see the best art.” 

Creating Memories

Dove of the East produces scrapbook items, including intricately patterned paper and boxes with Shan 

Dove of the East produces scrapbook items, including intricately patterned paper and boxes with Shanghainese, Russian and Parisian themes 

Doveen Schecter’s company, Dove of the East, produces scrapbook items, including intricately patterned paper and boxes with Shanghainese, Russian and Parisian themes, ribbons, stickers and other embellishments. The entrepreneur offers more than 300 products, which are stocked in 23 countries. 

Ms Schecter believes that scrapbooks can be a sentimental journey. She recalls the emotional response to her display by a visitor at the local art exhibition Detour last year. “He’d lost a close friend that he’d travelled with 20 years ago, and the exhibition reminded him to make a scrapbook for the friend’s brother.” 

While her largest market is the United States, Ms Schechter is hopeful that her business can take off on the mainland. “The children of the Cultural Revolution didn’t receive any photos from their families, so scrapbooking is an opportunity for them to create their own memories.” 

Related Links
Creative City
Doveen Schecter
Jaffa Lam
Leanne Claxton
Pure Creative International

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