Design Systems, a Hong Kong-based interior design practice, was set up by Lam Wai-ming in 1999. The company has won more than 80 international awards, the most recent of which include gold at the Taiwan Interior Design Awards, gold in Italy's 'A' Design Awards and the Hong Kong Best award in the Hong Kong Designers Association Global Design Awards.
How did the company start? Lam (right) graduated from Polytechnic University in 1993 with a bachelor's degree in interior design and the prize for best interior design graduate. He was initially snapped up by Foster + Partners, but, after six years at the coalface of large-scale commercial projects, he decided to go it alone.
Does the company specialise? Not really. it is involved in all kinds of interior design, from commercial spaces to residential and even furniture. Although many of the company's designs appear initially to have a signature bold, minimalist style, closer inspection reveals subtle quirks. The cap-sule lamp, for instance, has a shade that features dozens of tiny capsules into which one can place little objects - toys and stationery, perhaps.
What are Design Systems' most significant projects? "Functional Aesthetic and 780 Tianshan Road, Shanghai [top] are projects that we like very much," says Lam. "The former is the control centre of Hong Kong airport, and has extremely demanding functional and technical requirements. The latter is a renovation project of a five-storey office block with a more than 40-year history. Both projects are good in the way they create value for the clients as well as embodying our design values: details and depth."
What's next for the company? For greater recognition, Lam intends to enter international design competitions. But, he says, while it's important to think globally, it's also essential that his firm doesn't lose its boutique sensibilities. "Our designs should have a strong sense of individuality," he says, "but that shouldn't come at the expense of being enjoyed by the whole community."