Blessed with a gimlet eye for detail and an inherent feel for texture, Hong Kong-born designer Joyce Wang is certainly one to watch. She’s recently wrapped her Art Central 2015 exhibition, showcasing a collaboration with crystal connoisseurs Swarovski which featured her mod, stimulating reinterpretation of the OTT chandelier, firmly cementing her spot on our design radar. The mind behind some of HK’s hottest luxury spots from sultry Chinese diner Mott 32, to PMQ’s edgy sisters Isono and Vasco, Joyce sits down with LUXE to share her city lowdown and tell us what’s next.
First, can you share some of your past projects?
Apart from Mott 32, Isono and Vasco, and a few restaurants for the Jockey Club in Sha Tin, Ammo (at Asia Society) was one of the first projects we did in Hong Kong. Our design brief for that was very free – they wanted guest comfort, a quiet space, and for it to be textured. I think the Asia Society is somewhere Hong Kong people can be proud of. You get a great sense of space, as well as the unique landscape surrounding you.
AMMO at Asia Society, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty, Hong Kong, +852 2537 9888, ammo.com.hk
Mott 32, Standard Chartered Bank Bldg, 4-4A Des Voeux Rd Central, Central, Hong Kong, +852 2885 8688, mott32.com
It was a contrast to, say, the design at Mott 32 then.
Yes – Mott is the story of Hong Kong, the idea of having both Chinese history attached to it but also colonialism. It started as a fishing village, but there’s also the present day inspiration of what the building represents. So it’s very glam – think private account owners.
Three words to describe your approach to your work?
Intuitive, emotive, unexpected – for me it’s very important that there is an element of surprise.
What was significant about Oculus, your piece in Art Central?
Nadia Swarovski had been hearing from her friends that the crystal chandelier is going extinct, and she felt responsible and invigorated to defend that. Her way of doing it was to collaborate with contemporary designers – I was up for the challenge and convinced it could be modernised. Chandeliers traditionally are very ornate and very extrovert, you think words like multifaceted and bling, and I wanted to create something more introverted, with all the crystals on the inside of the form. But it’s not lacklustre in any way.
And what do you do when you’re not designing or making art?
I like spending time outdoors – hiking, swimming, going to the beach. I also like films and travelling.
What do you love and loathe about HK?
Loathe is obviously the pollution; love is the speed. It’s totally frenetic – in design terms that means we’re able to test ideas quickly. It’s a great environment with lots of opportunity.
Where do you take visitors to HK?
Ammo/Asia Society is a must, but for something offbeat I like the [indie theatre] Broadway Cinematheque in Yau Ma Tei. Next to it there’s a store called Kubrick – they’ve got books, films, stationery… And have really good tape. I’m a tape person. Printed, coloured, hand-painted or textured…
Kubrick, H2 Cinema Block, Prosperous Garden, 3 Public Square St, Yau Ma Tei, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 2384 8929, kubrick.com.hk
Apart from tape, what inspires you?
In general, Roman architecture. In Hong Kong, I get inspiration just from walking down the streets – I love the juxtaposition between landscape and built environment.
Let’s talk travel – what are your favourite places in the world?
My favourite two cities are London and Rome. They’re both very romantic, and the streets are winding – New York is not on that list, as I don’t like gridded anything. I like exploration and meeting dead ends and that sense of curiosity. New York is too easy to figure out.
Tell us your travel bucket list.
Norway for the design and food; there are some cool Norwegian concept cafes that I want to check out. And Myanmar, it’s still under the radar but with lots of history – historic cities in Asia can be hard to see before they get destroyed.
What do you always pack when you travel?
A carry-on, always. Two [a carry-on and duffel bag] if it’s a longer trip. A notebook for inspiration, and cashmere slippers – put them on anywhere and it makes you feel at home.
What’s next for you?
In addition to our Hong Kong studio, we just opened our London office! So far it’s a small team of 4 over there, but the idea is to grow it the same way we have in HK. I can’t say too much just yet, but we’re working on some hotel projects that will be unveiled in the next year or two… Watch this space!
For more fab design and avant-garde eateries in Hong Kong, check out the LUXE Hong Kong guide!