2012: The Year of the Dragon & Hong Kong Design

Hong Kong is poising itself to become the center of the design world.

Did you hear that? That was the sound of 1.3 billion people celebrating the start of the Lunar New Year’s celebrations last night, also known as Chinese New Year. If dragons are to be believed, 2012 should be a year of great courage and prosperity. And if the government of Hong Kong has anything to do with it, it will also be the year of great Chinese design.

Los Angeles, New York, London: cities that are all content to host one-off annual design weeks. In the Pearl of the Orient, 2012 has been designated as Hong Kong Design Year. The purpose of HKDY 2012 is to nurture talent; enhance manufacturing with sustainability, reliability, quality and productivity in mind; demonstrate how design improves quality of life without jeopardizing the planet; and celebrate Hong Kong for being Hong Kong.

Pierre-Alexis Dumas, artistic director of Hermes, says of the city: “the great creative potential of Hong Kong in the field of design is born out of its complex, yet fluid and dynamic, interlacing of infrastructures and cultures.”

British born, Hong Kong based designer Michael Young calls it “the design center of the universe.”

Boldly stated, Young, and a handful of cities will delightfully vie for that title. In celebration of the dragon’s year ahead, meanwhile, here are half a dozen Chinese designers that prove your point.

Stanley Wong: the tricolor motif in Wong’s redbluewhite series is sourced from the “ubiquitous blue-red-white tarpaulin” émigrés used while traveling between Hong Kong and mainland China, bearing gifts and food for relations in native provinces. One observer describes the subject-matter as echoing “the industriousness and struggle of the Hong Kong people in the 1960s: starting out with nothing, they succeeded in constructing the metropolis that is present-day Hong Kong with their fortitude, positivity and adaptability.”

Raymond Choy: a pioneer in the designer/art toy movement and creator of the popular Qee toys.

Rocco Yim: the architect behind the Bamboo Pavilion for Festival of Vision at Hong Kong in Berlin.

Winnie Lui: constructs white chandeliers out of toys and other everyday objects.

Michael Young: as mentioned, a British born designer who moved to Hong Kong twenty years ago. He recently teamed up with academic John Heskett to compile two decades worth of anecdotes and client experiences into a coffee table/design book-memoir called Works in China. As for his work…

Geoff Tsui of Konzepp: along with film producer Willie Chan (famous for bringing Jackie Chan to Hollywood), the two co-founded a community art and design space/café. The goal of Konzepp (formerly Hatch33) is to become a haunt for creators and designers, and “a space that reflects the public’s wants and needs.”

Much like Hong Kong itself.

Image: BBC; SiongChin; Toy2r; Design-Milk; Michael Young; CNN Go

K. Emily Bond

K. Emily Bond is the Shelter Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in southern Spain, reporting on trends in art, design, sustainable living and lifestyle.