Launching your own company is hard enough. Launching a design agency, which only accepts work that follows your creative vision is not for the fainthearted. Danielle Huthart achieves that with Whitespace.
Huthart, whose company has Porsche to W Hotels to Joyce to the Hong Kong Ballet among its clients, emphasises the importance of getting to know a client; what they stand for – their purpose and vision – and ensuring its aligned with hers. “It’s about integrity. Every designer faces these decisions, and I wouldn’t do things just for the money – that’s very important.”
Hong Kong-born Huthart set up the company almost a decade ago when she returned to the city after living in New York for nine years. With Whitespace, she combines the best ethics and practices learnt from her work experiences in America. “It was a good time to come back,” she says.
The post-SARS economy was just beginning to pick up and studio space was relatively cheap. “I had a defined idea of how I wanted the company to be. It kept me going in the early years.”
She identifies 2007 as the tipping point for the company, when Whitespace moved to larger premises in Sheung Wan, around the same time as the company completed a project for serviced apartment brand Kush.
“When that project launched, people started to notice who we were.”
Whitespace’s relationship with arts organisations also began to develop, including work for Asia Art Archive, which provided an entry into the Hong Kong arts world. Arts clients, says Huthart, “don’t pay that well, but they provide an opportunity to create an impact. And arts branding in Hong Kong,” she adds flatly, “is terrible.”
The company now employs 10 people and has brought a change of focus for its founder. “Much as I like working independently, I wanted to work with other people,” she says.
Beyond Whitespace, Huthart has curated a number of exhibitions and developed the idea for Creative City, an insider guide to Hong Kong that is design and culture focused – the first of its kind for the city. “You’ve got to make time to do stuff you enjoy.”
HUTHART’S HONG KONG …
The Eslite Bookshop
“It’s the best place to browse for books and printed matter.”
8-10/F, Hysan Place, 500 Hennessy Road, Causeway Bay. eslite.com
“This shop is filled with beautiful and unique objects, and home furniture.”
252 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan. deemlimited.com/
Fanling Skate Park
“Nothing beats a good skate park, and Hong Kong has one of the best, designed by the guys at Convic.”
On Lok Mun Road, Fanling
Square Street Studio
“This tiny storefront and workshop churns out Swedish-inspired leather goods, accessories and footwear.”
15 Square Street, Sheung Wan
“One of the last remaining Colonial-style houses – an architectural gem, which is now a museum devoted to tea ware.”
10 Cotton Tree Drive, Central