Hong Kong skyline

Creative environment and "can do" attitude attracts design studios to Hong Kong

Dezeen promotion: Hong Kong's "dynamic cultural and creative energy" has driven London design practice Bompas & Parr to set up its first international studio in the city, one of a number of global creative companies to do so.

For the food design studio, which is behind projects such as the world's first non-melting ice lolly and the lightest known meringue, the decision to open its inaugural office outside of London was based on Hong Kong's reputation for business.

"Bompas and Parr recognises Hong Kong as a premier business hub in Asia," said the studio's creative director Samuel Bompas. "The new studio aims to capitalise on the dynamism of the cultural and creative industries in the city."

Bompas & Parr jelly installation
A funeral jelly by Bompas & Parr for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Photo is by Charles Villyard

Bompas & Parr has created a number of projects across Asia previously, and will now expand its work in the region with the help of the new studio led by Josh Ng, who was born and raised in Hong Kong.

In the time of the coronavirus pandemic, expanding into a new city can seem like an unusual move, but Bompas believes the decision will benefit the company.

"While the creative industries in both London and Hong Kong have faced a dynamic time of late, we treat this as a goad to creativity," he said.

A sanitiser for your phone
One of the winners of the Fountain of Hygiene competition in London: a phone sanitiser

"Bompas & Parr was forged in the early days of the 2008 financial crisis and this shaped and honed our practice, giving it the vigour it has today," he added.

"We are enormously excited about opening in Hong Kong in 2020 and look forward to realising most swashbuckling and ambitious projects."

Bompas & Parr's recent Fountain of Hygiene competition was held in two parts, first in London and later in Hong Kong. The exhibition will soon reopen at Haw Par Music.

Green marble kitchen table in white kitchen
A home interior designed by Amy Butler featuring a green marble table

Another creative to set up shop in the city is Spanish-born Amy Butler, founder of interior design studio House of Butler, which creates bespoke high-end residential designs from its base in Wong Chuk Hang, Hong Kong.

Butler is in her second year in Hong Kong, after initially being transferred here for another job and staying on. "There is an energy in Hong Kong that you don’t experience anywhere else," Butler said.

"When I started working in HK I was really encouraged by the 'can do' attitude of the Hong Kong people, this is essential to a design business," she added.

Wooden floors in white flat with green accent wall
Butler hopes to expand her company in Hong Kong

Butler's company, which has three staff members, is working on residential interior design but Butler wants to expand into the import part of the business, as well as open her own shop and furniture collection.

"I am organically growing and I now find myself having to decide how big I want to make it," she said. "The opportunities are everywhere in Hong Kong if you work hard. It's more about you deciding how much you want to take on."

The designer was helped by Invest HK to help secure an entrepreneur visa in Hong Kong, and says that the city's multiculturalism means it has a great variety of professionals.

"There is a lot of help and guidance from the government organisations such as Invest Hong Kong, there are a lot of events and an incubation program that will support your design start-up for the first two years and provide business training and mentoring," she said.

White sofa with a jade green easy chair
Opportunities are everywhere in the city, Butler said

Hong Kong is "a great springboard both into, and out of, China as well as the broader Asia region," said Chris Dobson of San Francisco-formed architectural design studio Eight Inc, which has designed major projects including Apple's retail store program and has an eight-person strong team in its Hong Kong office.

"I'm always impressed by the depth and breadth of the talent pool here – it's a very strong mix of local and international, and levels of experience," Dobson said. "It gives you all the pieces of the puzzle you need to build a business."

White tables inside Xiaomi flagship store
The Xiaomi flagship store in Shenzhen is one of Eight Inc's recent projects

Dobson also believes the way that Hong Kong dealt with the coronavirus pandemic has placed it in a strong position.

"We're very hopeful that with such a strong response to the virus, led in huge part by the people of Hong Kong itself, the city is really well positioned to emerge from this current situation from a position of strength," he said.

With presence in 11 cities around the world, Eight Inc set up a studio in Hong Kong in 2019.
Dobson believes that the city offers an irreplaceable location for the firm's regional expansion, as it is a powerful gateway with a range of international and, increasingly, mainland China businesses present.

Interior of Xiaomi flagship store in Shenzhen
The ability to work in an innovation hub like Shenzhen was one of the draws for Eight Inc's Hong Kong location

"We believe that Hong Kong will remain the design hub of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA)," Dobson added. "The combination of Macao as a regional entertainment and experience hub, the great innovation and development capabilities of Shenzhen, and the design capabilities of Hong Kong as an exciting blend, which should benefit everyone."

Visit the Invest HK website for more information on setting up a creative studio in Hong Kong, or contact Doris Fong, head of creative industries of Invest HK, at [email protected].

Partnership content

This article was written by Dezeen for Invest HK as part of a partnership. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.