A Design Success From Hong Kong Bridging China and the World
Image courtesy of Kent Wong
A simple decision can often change one’s career. Kent Wong is an eminent designer from Hong Kong and an alumni of Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s design school. In the past 20 years, he has been exploring different places in China. He has progressed from being an industrial design specialist to a versatile designer today. As a newcomer to Guangzhou Design Week (GDW), Kent’s “WIDE – World Influence Design Exhibition” is testament to his determination to seize every opportunity that lies before him.
Dare to try
Kent has rich experiences in working in mainland China for design projects. He is a man of action that will seize any opportunity in sight. He is open to all sorts of collaborative opportunities that come to him in the mainland. “From my perspective, the projects that I came across in mainland China are of great variety, much greater than other countries’,” he said. Recently Kent has worked on two smart office projects in Shenzhen – that includes a showroom at EIGENSTONE headquarters and AQARA’s smart living showroom. The former incorporates a design that can not only meet the systemic requirements of business smart systems, but also create a multi-dimensional experience that expresses the relationship between smart data, interactivity and space. The AQARA’s showroom instead circles around a design vision about making breakthroughs. “Each of our smart working show rooms demonstrates a scenario that one may come across in future workplaces. Such major change is driven by the desire to boost efficiency and enhance experiences.”
A doorway that leads to the world
There is much talk about how the Greater Bay Area (GBA) becoming a key piece for Hong Kong and mainland China’s future development. Kent believes having a clear positioning is especially important. “Like what you said, in first-tier cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, or even in the second-tier and third tier cities there are plenty of design exhibitions being organized there. So, it’s important for cities to craft their own space. For instance, Shanghai has always been playing international, leveraging international brands, and academic exchanges. As an important hub in the GBA, Guangzhou has already been a design centre for home living products. Designers can easily travel around and source their materials locally, and they can develop an industry-common language through such experiences. Guangzhou is also proud of its authentic culture, thus making it stand out from the crowd.
Kent’s “WIDE – World Influence Design Exhibition” uses “To China & From China” as its theme. The idea is to act as a bridge for China designs and the world. On the one hand, the world can use this window to reach local users; on the other hand, the world can also understand the situation of China design and its resilience, with a hope to attract influential modern living brands and high-end designs to come, and let designers, buyers and brands meet each other and have a chance to exchange thoughts. “Guangzhou Design Week has continued for more than a decade. They know about positioning and product differentiation. They have a lot of intellectual properties. Comparing with similar design events in nearby regions, GDW is down to earth and understands the needs of brands and designers.”
Future and the road to resurgence
As a veteran in China’s design industry, Kent has a lot of hope for its future. “Personally, I am optimistic about the future of China’s design industry. There is a huge domestic market offering a lot of opportunities for designers locally, just like the aspiring Hong Kong in the 1970s and 1980s. Through lots of trials and errors, they also have the chance to realize their designs. No matter it’s the market, the culture, or technologies, they are all taking shape. So, to me it’s not a surprise to see young designers from China stepping onto the world stage, and even garnering international awards like Red-Dot these days.”
This year, BoDW and GDW are collaborating partners, while Kent himself also participated in our BoDW summits before. Touching on this year’s theme “Global Design Reset”, where the world is still tackling various challenges stemming from the pandemic and the world economy still looks lacklustre today, Kent says he’s also included similar elements in his exhibition. “Even though China has rebounded rather quickly, a lot of our habits have changed under the new normal. This fundamental change affects not only designers in China but also the demand side of the users. They have become more receptive in using the internet as a way to communicate with designers or a way to work. “Fresh New Start” is a key word of our activity, and perhaps a consensus among many,” he said.
WIDE – World Influence Design Exhibition
Date: 9 December – 12 December 2021
Venue: Guangzhou Design Week Exhibition Hall (Import), Guangzhou International Sourcing Center