Hong Kong’s creative scene explored through the eyes of artists
Hong Kong is in a state of constant industrial overhaul and exciting artistic transformation. New galleries, stores and street art projects are popping up in West Kowloon, Sham Shui Po and Sheung Wan neighborhoods, creating a thriving community of young talent and established artists.
Buzzing and creatively synergistic clusters of independent start-ups – craft businesses specializing in everything from coffee and clothing to jewelry, furniture and baking – punctuate the urban mazes of Mong Kok and Sai Ying Pun.
And, as old buildings are transformed into trendy exhibition and studio spaces – such as the Cattle Depot Artist Village in Ma Tau Kok, Kowloon, a former slaughterhouse – traditional and contemporary design is showcased in both galleries. world-class and intriguing creative hubs.
Hong Kong’s reputation as an international force in art and design will be underscored by the reestablishment of a busy schedule of events, including Art Basel Hong Kong and the new Digital Art Fair.
Meanwhile, local creativity continues to flourish. Old Town Central offers experimental performances inside a converted late Victorian depot, and the walls of Ki Ling Lane and Chung Ching Street feature an intoxicating swirl of multicolored and continually set street art. up to date.
It all adds up to an intriguing art and design scene, recognized locally and internationally. Here, two international designers drawn to the practice in Hong Kong reflect on what attracted them to the city and continue to excite and inspire them.
Michael Young, industrial designer
UK-born and Hong Kong-based industrial designer Michael Young set up his studio in the city in 2006. While specializing in product, furniture and interior design from his studio in Sheung Wan , his practice transcends the very notion of design by harnessing innovative manufacturing skills to create what he calls “industrial art.”
“I work with sophisticated brands that pride themselves on the best technology,” he explains. “When you collaborate with industries of these high standards, people who operate with pride, skill and technique, the work becomes something of an art form. “
The city itself is an inspiration. “The diversity of colors, textures of Hong Kong, its forward-looking architecture and landscapes – it’s a constant stimulation,” he says.
Despite being a resident of Hong Kong, Young still observes the city from a stranger’s perspective. “Initially, I studied a lot of old Chinese architectural structures, which had a great influence on the mathematics we use with computer work on our most decorative pieces,” he says.
Another early obsession was exploring the ancient art of zhezhi, Chinese paper folding. “I saw a simple toy made from this beautiful craft, which has never really been exploited in the arts. My goal was to take [zhezhi] outside of Asia and present it as a local craft. Young used the traditional technique to make larger art objects – clocks, tables, and lighting – which caused a stir at the time. “Folding paper is very dear to my heart,” he adds.
Currently planning to launch his own Hong Kong-based brand, Young has found a home for his creativity. The city, he says, offers a dynamic that a designer can “connect and dance with”.
For example, working with interior designer Alexi Robinson, Young helped create furniture and lighting for a trendy central Hong Kong restaurant, The Night Market, whose vibe refers to lights, to the materials and colors of street food culture. Eating out in Hong Kong, says Young, is both satisfying and creatively inspiring. “No one can make seafood outdoors like in Hong Kong. It’s just something that is rooted in the heart and soul of the city.
Szabotage, graffiti artist
“As a creative person, moving to Hong Kong was extremely inspiring,” says London graffiti artist Gustav Szabo, aka Szabotage. “Urban art has found its place at the heart of the city’s contemporary scene – there are so many new ideas and new discoveries in Hong Kong’s culture and urban environment. The city energizes me.
When Szabotage first arrived in Hong Kong in 2013, the street art scene was emerging, allowing a new creative freedom he had not experienced in the UK. It has since evolved into a complex interdisciplinary form of expression. “Creatively, Hong Kong is an exciting place to live,” says the artist. “The opportunities have improved dramatically since I arrived eight years ago, and there has been a boom in new art spaces, institutions, galleries and museums. “
In Hong Kong, Szabotage’s vision takes a critical look at his immediate surroundings and often refers to the cityscape, exploring the relationship between local architecture and communities. “When I paint in the streets of Hong Kong, I feel like I make good connections with people. There is a great deal of interest in live painting, and art crosses many cultural and linguistic barriers. It crosses many borders that my lack of Cantonese cannot.
During his career, Szabotage has collaborated with brands such as Louis Vuitton and Evisu, but remains best known for his specific street art in Hong Kong. Inspired by her surroundings, the artist’s now ubiquitous koi signature, for example, was born on a wall in 2013.
“The koi carp is part of me, a symbol with which I strongly identify. The koi jumps out of the water, out of its comfort zone, from water to air. There is a feeling of jubilation in his movement. The fish are slightly out of context in the urban environment, but they have a powerful and energetic life force, as evidenced by their ability to swim upstream, against the tide. Szabotage says he can relate to all of these challenges and emotions. §