Who is he? Possibly one of the busiest men in town, Victor Lo is a member of the Executive Council and chairs the Hong Kong Design Centre's board of governors, Gold Peak Industries (Holdings) and the advisory committee of Hong Kong Polytechnic University's School of Design. He is also a vital cog in the steering committee for the city's annual Business of Design Week (www.bodw.com.hk), which runs from tomorrow until Saturday.
What's his story? Lo majored in industrial design at the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, the United States, but after graduation returned to Hong Kong and his family's manufacturing business. However, he was drawn back into the design world. 'I am one of the few businessmen in Hong Kong with a design background, so for the past 15 years, every time the government or the industry has wanted to do something about design they have tended to give me a call,' he says. He started by chairing a small industrial design unit for the Hong Kong Productivity Council. When the design community started talking to the government about setting up a centre seven years ago, Lo was asked to be involved. 'Design is very important for the economic future of Hong Kong,' he says. 'We aspire to become an Asian world city ... we have to compete by doing things that add value to our products or services.'
What design styles does he appreciate? 'My taste is very broad,' says Lo, who is a collector of 20th-century Chinese art. 'However, because [my] school had a strong Bauhaus background, I would probably go for the very minimalist form-follows-function type of design. My apartment is quite minimalist. In graphic design, my favourite has to be Kan Tai-keung. He is a master of combining contemporary design with Chinese culture and was one of the pioneers in doing this 25 years ago.'
What part of Design Week is he most looking forward to? This year's line-up promises to be larger than those previous, with speakers from around the world, principally from the event's partner country, Italy. Lo says he is looking forward to an auction of items designed for a project called 9707, which celebrates the 10 years since the handover. 'It's an exciting project. We've approached 10 prominent brands and asked each to support a Hong Kong designer in co-developing a special product,' he explains. 'At the gala dinner we'll do an auction - Sotheby's has agreed [to help] - and each of the 10 brands will donate one product, raising money for design promotion and education in Hong Kong.'