Design Trust's Critically Homemade exhibition showcases prototype designs made during lockdown

SO-IL and Michael Young are among over 130 architects and designers who have contributed to the Design Trust's exhibition of homemade designs produced during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Design Trust: Critically Homemade exhibition in Hong Kong features over 70 prototypes made at home by architects and designers from around the world.

Each of the designs is the result of a brief set by Hong Kong's Design Trust, a charity that supports creative projects in Hong Kong and the surrounding region, which challenged designers to design and make a prototype from home in less than three weeks.

The brief specified that the designs should offer solutions to current social, educational or environmental needs and fit in the palm of someone's hand. Designers were also encouraged to collaborate where possible.

Design Trust: Critically Homemade exhibition at Soho House Hong Kong
Design Trust: Critically Homemade takes place at Soho House in Hong Kong

"The desire to make things with our hands is universal and a significant human expression," said Design Trust co-founder and exhibition curator Marisa Yiu.

"Restricted by the necessary social distancing during an unprecedented pandemic, many designers have expressed a need to connect, collaborate and create."

"As a perpetual optimist, I believe design can enact positive change," she added. "This organic platform showcases the humbling power of the community to come together to support each other."

The prototypes are on show at Soho House in Hong Kong from 21 September to 4 October.

Dezeen is a media partner for the exhibition and will be streaming a live relay talk on 3 October, in which Yiu and Aric Chen will speak to a selection of the participating designers.

Read on for 10 highlights from the exhibition. Information about all the designs can be found on the Design Trust's website.


The Learning House by People's Architecture Office for Design Trust: Critically Homemade exhibition

The Learning House by People's Architecture Office

Beijing studio People’s Architecture Office has designed a simple activity kit for kids to construct at home, which is intended to stimulate creativity and exercise fine motor skills.

The design comprises sheets of paper with a drawing of city life on one side, which children can colour in. The sheets can also be folded to create small house-shaped containers that reveal the drawing when opened.

As well as a way to keep children occupied, the project is intended as a metaphor for how, for many people, all of life is compressed inside the home during lockdown.


Antibacterial Door Handles by Michael Young for Design Trust: Critically Homemade exhibition

Antibacterial Door Handles by Michael Young

In response to heightened concerns around hygiene in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, designer Michael Young has created prototype door handles that are intended to be resistant to bacteria.

The handles have been treated with a laser to create a rough but extremely fine surface texture, which repels water in the same way that a lotus leaf does.

In this way, the handles clean themselves without the need for any chemicals. Without any water present on the surface, bacteria are unable to grow.


Hong Kong Brick by Studio Florian and Christine for Design Trust Critically Homemade exhibition

Hong Kong Brick by Studio Florian and Christine

Hong Kong-based Studio Florian and Christine has created a brick made from the construction waste from shops that have been knocked down in Hong Kong.

The studio collected small gravel, cement, and glass pieces from different shops around Hong Kong, which were broken down into smaller fragments and utilised in a terrazzo casting to create a new brick.

The designers wanted to create a brick as it is symbolic of rebuilding something new, with the project representing how the past can be used to create a positive impact for the future.


Pocket Garden by Julie and Jesse for Design Trust: Critically Homemade exhibition

Pocket Garden by Julie & Jesse

Pocket Garden by Hong Kong studio Julie & Jesse is a series of miniature sculptures made from waste materials.

Using materials including recycled porcelain, yarn and stale popcorn, the studio created forms that mimic the porous texture of Gongshi, or scholar's rocks, which are traditionally prized in Chinese culture and often used as sculptural elements in gardens.

The sculptures can be snapped onto Lego bricks for families to create their own miniature sculptural gardens at home.


I Love You But I Need to Keep a Safe Distance by Joel Austin and Kwan Q Li for Design Trust Critically Homemade exhibition

I Love You but I Need to Keep a Safe Distance by Joel Austin and Kwan Q Li

I Love You but I Need to Keep a Safe Distance is a measuring device that features four retractable tape measures that are 100, 120, 180 and 200 centimetres in length.

These measurements represent different social distancing requirements of various governments around the world.

The design is intended as a comment of the lack of international consensus on how to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic


SWEAT by Frederic Gooris and Paulina Chu for Design Trust: Critically Homemade exhibition

SWEAT (Simple Workout Exercises And Training) by Frédéric Gooris and Paulina Chu

Desigers Frédéric Gooris and Paulina Chu have created a series of simple bamboo components that people can use to create exercise equipment during lockdown from readily available household items.

The collection includes a skipping rope, arm trainer and dumbells that can be made by screwing water bottles into a bamboo handle.

The designers chose bamboo as it is extremely strong and flexible, and considered to be a symbol of resilience.


SO-AP: Rinse and Repeat by SO-IL for Design Trust: Critically Homemade exhibition

SO-AP:Rinse and Repeat by SO-IL

New York architecture studio SO-IL has created a series of soap bars cast from its archive of building model moulds.

The projects is a symbolic gesture, which is intended to represent the studio's desire to repurpose its work to meet the current needs of society and protect people during the pandemic.

"Because the world has slowed down, we also had the luxury to reorganise our office archive, to learn about and reflect upon what we have done," said SO-IL.


Ink and Architecture by Hugh Davies for Design Trust: Critically Homemade exhibition

Ink and Architecture by Hugh Davies in collaboration with Yoko Nakazawa, Joyce Cheng, and Nikki Lam

Ink and Architecture is a series of laser-cut architectural miniatures of renowned contemporary Hong Kong buildings that serve as decorative handles for traditional seal stamps, which are used instead of signatures on personal and business documents.

Created by Melbourne-based artists and researchers from Chinese, British, Japanese and Hong Kong backgrounds, the juxtaposition between old and new is intended to reflect the dramatic changes currently taking place in Hong Kong.


Covid-19 Sculpture Series by Kacey Wong for Design Trust Critically Homemade exhibition

Covid-19 Sculpture Series by Kacey Wong

Hong Kong artist Kacey Wong has created a series of jewel-like sculptures featuring essential household items cast inside resin.

The sculptures are a comment on the early days of the pandemic when ordinary household items such as toilet paper and hand sanitiser became scarce and highly sought-after items.


Bake Your Cutlery by Kay Chan for Design Trust Critically Homemade exhibition

Bake Your Cutlery by Kay Chan

Bake Your Cutlery by Kay Chan is an attempt to reduce the amount of single-use plastic waste during the pandemic as more and more people opt for takeaway food rather than eating in restaurants.

During lockdown, she experimented with creating compostable, edible utensils made from flour and water, which will be easy to make, affordable, sustainable and nice to eat.