Designer trusts in G.O.D.
Educated in Britain from the age of 14, Douglas Young, chief executive of G.O.D., studied at Sheffield University and at the Architectural Association in London. Returning to Hong Kong in 1991, he started a design practice and, five years later, opened the first of his furniture stores with Benjamin Lau.
Why did you study architecture and how does it influence your work? Architecture is a versatile discipline and is rightly called the 'mother of all arts'. The training enables a practitioner to tackle not just architectural projects but other design-related fields, which is something that helps in my present work. For example, traditional architectural considerations of aesthetics, functionality and economy are everyday concerns in what I do now.
What were the guiding factors when you opened G.O.D.?
I decided that it had to be a genuine Hong Kong brand. I wanted to help local people, including myself, to feel proud of our native culture. My original vision was to create a lifestyle store - in other words, selling goods across different categories under one brand. I then learned the basics of retailing through lots of costly mistakes and failures, as none of the team had a background in the sector.
How do you balance business discipline with being creative?
I don't balance it, at least not within myself. I try to be completely creative and my partner Benjamin Lau does all the rational thinking. Before we reach a decision, we always fight it out first.
How do you view arts and design in Hong Kong?
What the Hong Kong creative industry really needs is tasteful and intelligent patronage. If this can happen, then the local arts scene will start to blossom.
Were you always ambitious and what are your main goals at present?
I am not ambitious. We get offers to expand overseas, but we never go for it. I enjoy my modest scale of operations because it's fun. If the business gets any bigger, it risks becoming a monster. I have no interest in managing a multinational company.
What have you done to remain positive in difficult times?
I remind myself that 'that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger'.
What still surprises you about the work environment and how do you get the best out of staff?
It is always the people that surprise me by what they do or how they react to certain situations. Otherwise, my work environment itself is pretty dull.
I try to allow my staff to do something they like or feel passion for, as it is easier for them to exert energy that way.
Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?
I see myself doing something completely different from what I am doing today, but I have no idea what. I get bored easily, don't like to repeat things and like to take on new challenges.
What do you want to say to young designers?
Banish all your idols, unlearn what you've been taught and live your own life.
From snappy dresser
Young won the '10 Best Dressed Award' by the Hong Kong Fashion Designers' Association in 2005
G.O.D. has collaborated with Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Greenpeace and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.