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Designs on Hong Kong

Sam Lam

A tourism project visualised as an open-air gallery, Design District Hong Kong (#ddHK), has transformed the streets of Wan Chai and Sham Shui Po, with designs that depict different Hong Kong stories under the theme of “Connected City: Hong Kong Stories”. Highlights of the three-year long project include public furniture inspired by the shapes found in the strokes of Chinese characters (#ddExperience), murals that depict Hong Kong’s seasonal changes and highlight key buildings such as the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre (#ddWalk) and graphics that aim to promote usability (#ddSmile) and road safety (#ddFresh) at tram stops, as well as two specially designed trams, said Sam Lam, a Project Consultant for the Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC), one of the organisers of the project.

Art work on Stone Nullah Lane
Art work on Stone Nullah Lane

#ddHK is intended to inspire Hongkongers and its visitors to appreciate creative design collaborations, encourage use of public spaces and develop connections with the community through design. What makes it unique?
#ddHK is the first large-scale, curated placemaking and creative tourism project in Hong Kong, presenting more than 50 creative designs and artworks, three walking routes and various themed guided tours to develop Wan Chai as an open-air design district gallery. This sets up a good sample for cross-collaboration between different government departments, the creative industry, business and the local community.

There will be a series of works conceptualised by local and international art and design talents as part of #ddHK. Tell us about some of your favourites, and what you expect to be the most popular?
The tram is Hong Kong’s living heritage, and one of the best mediums through which to tell these Hong Kong stories. A 300-metre tram lane painted green, #ddFresh, covering a section of the east-bound tram lane in Johnston Road with green paint, adding to the city’s vibrancy and promoting road safety for drivers and pedestrians, is one favourite, as is the triptych of dragon paintings at the O’Brien Road tram station, and Kui Wong’s and Tim Marsh’s tram, with the former showcasing distinctive calligraphy and the latter drawing inspiration from 90s TV culture. I think the most popular work would be the #ddWalk. It’s very visible as it’s situated at one of the busiest footbridges in Hong Kong.

Wall painting by Didier Enrico Mathieu
Wall painting by Didier Enrico MathieuWall painting by Didier Enrico Mathieu at Tung Wah Centenerary Square Garden

It’s hoped that the works will further develop the district of Wan Chai as an open-air design district gallery. What’s been the response so far and how do you plan to encourage people to engage with the activations?
We’re happy to see people taking pictures and sharing their thoughts on social media about the designs. More importantly, we can see people enjoy spending more time in public spaces and being inspired to make good use of the designs, such as the furniture pieces at Fleming Road Garden. Placemaking is a core concept of #ddHK. We hope to increase the connectivity and walkability of Wan Chai through our design and art installations.

This is a three-year creative tourism project, with #ddPaintHKWALLS until February 2021, and #ddSharing road paving graphics on display until February 2021. Tell us what else is in store from #ddHK over the next couple of years
We’re planning two major activations at Wan Chai and Sham Shui Po respectively at the end of this year under the theme of “Pop! Get Inspired at Every Turn”. In Wan Chai, we will extend our Design District Gallery to Wan Chai East, in partnership with the Hong Kong Comic and Animation Federation (HKCAF). In Sham Shui Po, we will be launching a major fashion event and a series of placemaking and public engagement activities that aim to strengthen the district as a creative tourism destination and fashion and design hub.

What do you like about the Hong Kong art & design scene and how are you working to improve it?
There are actually lots of creative happenings around the city. But there is no central platform and inexpensive, decent venues to promote creative activities and grow local talent. This is where HKDC’s two community programmes – #ddHK and BODW CityProg – come into place. The former attempts to turn public space into an open-air design district gallery for both veteran artists and designers and young designers and students, while the latter is a business and community activation programme and platform to facilitate design participation.

The Hong Kong art scene has come a long way in recent years, with more art galleries, exhibitions and public art installations than ever before. How do you expect it to evolve?
The Greater Bay Area initiative will certainly play an important role in Hong Kong’s arts and culture, and the development of the local creative industry. I expect more and more groups, firms and associations from Hong Kong’s creative sector to take advantage of the new venues, funding opportunities and platforms, which in turn will help raise the quality of local arts and culture events.

Design District Hong Kong is jointly organised by HKDC and the Hong Kong Tourism Commission.

HKDC is a co-organiser of the Hong Kong Trade Development Council’s showcase design expo, DesignInspire, to be held on 5-7 December 2019.

Related link
Design District Hong Kong (#ddHK)

Content provided by Hong Kong Trade Development Council
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