Cool minimalist living ... includes free satire
A YouTube video depicting the cramped conditions of subdivided flats in Sham Shui Po and parodying a high-end development has gone viral in Hong Kong, attracting more than 170,000 views in a fortnight.
The satirical six-minute video called King's Cube was produced and directed by Chinese University of Hong Kong graduate Joe Yiu as part of her final fine arts masters project.
The name is a light-hearted reference to the luxury Queen's Cube development by Nan Fung Group and the Urban Renewal Authority in Wan Chai which has suffered from poor sales due to high prices for small flats.
Yiu, an IT professional, said the project started last year when she began analysing the language used in marketing materials for properties.
'I wanted to talk about the language and help the audience reflect on how estate agents and property developers dictate the style of an ideal living space,' she said.
'With the project, I'm concerned about the living environment in Hong Kong, particularly about what we consider to be an ideal home environment.'
Yiu denied any specific link between her project and Queen's Cube, saying it was up to the viewer to make their own connections. Nan Fung Group managing director Donald Choi Wun-hing said the two names were unrelated. 'I don't think it's a right association,' he said.
As part of her research, Yiu spent weeks visiting high-end show flats to experience the language and marketing methods used by estate agents and developers.
'It's like a dream,' she said. Few marketing materials lived up to their claims, with most agents exaggerating features and the actual living environment.
'They are telling you what stylish living is, but the reality is opposite to that.'
In addition to the video, Yiu designed and produced a glossy four-page brochure and a four-metre sales display for the fictional King's Cube development, with taglines such as 'savouring the glamorous life', 'the epitome of luxury' and 'a unique metropolitan signature'.
By chance, the timing of the release of the video tied in with media coverage of subdivided flats in Hong Kong in the past few weeks: 'It wasn't planned, and this news of cubicle flats is suddenly very hot.'
Yiu was surprised by the number of viewers and welcomed the discussions it was sparking on forums and her Facebook page.
'It was so unexpected, but I feel this is the right platform for the discussion.'
Yiu rented a 16.4 sq ft cubicle flat for three days at HK$100 a day to make the video. With the help of three fellow students, she spent a day refurbishing the cubicle - painting the walls, building new wall fixtures, hanging artworks and installing lighting and flooring.
The filming took two days and included shots of nearby 'attractions', such as the leisure facilities at the Pei Ho Street Municipal Services Building, and a fellow resident in evening wear, a glass of red wine in hand.
The tastefully decorated subdivided flat featured in the video was described by an actor who played the estate agent as a display unit and 'for reference only'.
The video then cuts to interior shots of an actual flat worlds apart from the display unit. However, both were just big enough to squeeze in a single bed, with the door opening directly onto the bed.
The number of square feet in the cubicle flat featured in the video
- It costs HK$100 a day to rent
- There is a dingy shared toilet and sink