20 Feb 2013
French designers Marc Cansier and Chantal Réchaussat came to Hong Kong in 1992 – a year after graduating from École Supérieure d'Art Graphique (Atelier Penninghen) in Paris. Within a year they had set up Marc & Chantal Design, a creative agency specialising in branding. For 20 years, the two, together with Swiss partner Marc Brulhart, have blended French sensibilities with their passion for Hong Kong, gaining an Asian-wide following and opening an office in Beijing.
Marc & Chantal recently designed Hong Kong, French Connections, a coffee-table book commissioned by the Consulate General of France to mark 150 years of relations between Hong Kong and France. Ms Réchaussat said that having been based in the city for two decades has allowed the firm to be part of the story.
What are some of the common links shared by Hong Kong and France?
In terms of people and culture, love of food is an obvious one. Entrepreneurial spirit is another.
What was the most exciting part about doing Hong Kong, French Connections?
The French design firm carried out extensive research to uncover authentic and historical images
What are some of the book’s highlights?
Fascinating stories, amusing anecdotes and rich iconography – some never before published. The book is structured like a collection of articles and testimonies. These illustrate key periods in the history of Hong Kong as seen through the angle of the French individuals with contrasted personal background and destinies who have, through times, explored the city, preached, traded, settled, fallen in love or even fought for it.
While working on this project, did you discover anything new yourself?
Indeed, plenty of interesting facts and anecdotes: that, for instance, Jackie Chan spent his childhood years at the French Consul residence; his father worked there as a cook, his mother as a chambermaid.
How does this Hong Kong-French connection add uniqueness to the city?
There's an enduring mutual interest and even fascination that consistently seeps through these tales. Also, it's enriching, and sometimes amusing, to learn about a city's history through the tales of a then-underdog – Hong Kong having been for so many years under the domination of rival Britain, "the perfidious Albion," as the French used to called it in the 19th century. It wasn't always good fellowship then.
Which part of this project are you most proud of?
Our creative team, including Elise Inthavixay as Art Director, assisted by Maeva Bac, took great care to give the book a contemporary look and feel. It's a history book, but one that is made accessible and engaging and fun to browse: you can open it anywhere and find an interesting read.
Hong Kong, French Connections is available, in both French- and English-language editions, at select bookstores in Hong Kong.
Marc & Chantal Design