Parisian interior designer and art historian Eve Mercier set up the Insight School of Interior Design in Chai Wan last year. A graduate of London's KLC School of Design, Mercier worked for British design house Candy & Candy and The Art Newspaper, in France, before moving to Hong Kong. Setting up home 13 times in the past 20 years, in Germany and Switzerland, among other places, she says, has honed her design skills.
Why did you become an interior designer? "Interior design is a well-rounded career because it allows you to be creative but in a practical manner. To be a good designer you have to be creative, but also understand your client and have a solid business sense.
"Mine has been a long and winding path that started with journalism then moved on to working for Christie's [auction house] in the modern art department, and then the fashion industry, with Shanghai Tang, where my brief was to revitalise Chinese style for the 21st century. That brought everything together for me; an eye for artistic pieces and an appreciation of beauty and proportion combined with a love and knowledge of textiles and a sense of colour."
What made you want to start a design school? "Upon my return to Hong Kong, in 2012 [Mercier first lived here in the 1990s], I spoke to a lot of industry professionals and recruitment firms. They all told me the same thing: there were lots of projects but not enough properly trained interior designers. The industry is crying out for creative designers with a global and strong practical knowledge. That is exactly what we are offering at Insight, with our pool of international teachers who are all working professionals."
What is your design philosophy? "I admire strong, creative ideas, [a good sense of] proportion and quality materials. I am all for concepts that last."
What makes the ideal interior-design student? "They should be a little bit of an artist and a little bit of a journalist, with an ounce of business sense thrown in. This recipe is even better if the student can learn to develop the skills of a good contractor and … dare I say it, marriage counsellor."
Who should consider applying to your school? "Anybody passionate about design, whether they are local or expatriate. The school is different in welcoming young students starting out, as well as more mature, change-of-career people. Mature students tend to know more about project management and budget drafting, which are skills very much appreciated by clients. On the other hand younger students seem to master the design programme more readily."
What do the courses cover? "We have short courses, one or two days, [which] include the history of 20th-century furniture, styles, lighting design, small space design, textiles for interiors, sustainable design, kitchen and bathroom design and [computer-aided design]. We also have a one-week 'introduction to interior design' course."
The Insight School of Interior Design is at 24/F, Federal Centre, 77 Sheung On Street, Chai Wan, tel: 2114 2021.