Johan Persson

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 June, 2010, 12:00am

Who? Johan Persson has managed one of the largest design firms in his native Sweden and has worked on products for Sony Ericsson and Miele, among others. After moving to Hong Kong six years ago, he was appointed managing director of a joint venture between three top Swedish industrial design companies.

What brought him to Asia? The Hong Kong government. At the turn of the millennium, the city was moving towards adding value to mainland-made products. However, 'the government realised that there wasn't enough knowledge here to grow the creative industry', says Persson, 'and it decided to try to bring in teachers with knowledge of international branding design'.

In 2004, he arrived as managing director of Swedes, a design consultancy helping to bring Hongkongers up to speed with industry innovations.

How did Hong Kong differ from Sweden? 'It was very challenging,' the designer says, 'and that had a lot to do with the business culture. Here you have to talk, meet, dine with and become more under the skin of your business partners than you have to in Sweden. In the West, a client is a client and they look for knowledge, skills, experience. You're not necessarily a friend to your client [here] but Asia requires more work on your social skills.'

What happened next? Last year, Persson set up C'monde Studios, a design consultancy that emphasises its international experience. Persson has also started his own brand.

'Carnival Minimal is a celebration of the little things. It will produce things with a twist, surprises, capturing moments that make everyday life colourful, that turn mild to wild. The products should be like explosions of colour [with some added] humour. The belief is that where a smile is a nod of approval, laughter is the stamp of legitimacy.'

What else has he done? Persson is most proud of his award-winning bicycle for Aprilia, which won the BraunPrize in 2002 and was exhibited at the Carrousel du Louvre, in Paris, France. Then there's his lounge chair (below), which explains his belief in the power of design to shape a lifestyle - the seat makes it impossible to sit up straight.

'The chair was based on a desire to control the ambience of a space,' he says. 'I designed a chair that's impossible to sit up straight in, forcing you to adopt a more relaxed position that would enhance the relaxed feeling of the room.'