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Hong Kong architect Antony Chan talks about IoT, design and life

Founder and creative director of CREAM is the first architect to participate in HKT Premier’s “iot in Style” design series

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 September, 2017, 2:39pm
UPDATED : Monday, 25 September, 2017, 10:13am

Britain- and France-registered architect and interior designer Antony Chan, founder and creative director of CREAM, has worked on international projects such as the European Parliament building in Strasbourg. In 2003, Chan was included among the world’s top 50 designers by the Andrew Martin International Interior Design Awards. Chan was invited to participate in HKT Premier’s “iot in Style” design series, combining his creativity and craftsmanship with IoT elements to design a stylish, automated home.He talks to the South China Morning Post about how IoT and design can enhance quality of life.

Q: What does IoT mean to you as a designer?

A: I focus more on the emotional side. I think all the IoT devices are pretty mature. So, it’s up to us to call the shots and tell people what we need, to have a better or enhanced lifestyle.

Q: You recently designed two showrooms at the “io.t by HKT” concept store. Would you share the thinking behind them.

A: Our original concept is family. I think everything comes back to home. It’s a very important notion. We used a large number of wooden members and construct them into a large cube timber structure. We wanted to bring across the notion of home, nature, comfort and bonding. They are factors that I really treasure within the values of home and of family.

Q: Technology is often perceived as being about functionality, and design seems to be more about the human touch. Do they go hand in hand?

A: I think it’s a misconception that IoT is something distant and cold. It’s been around for a long time. For example, the smartphone has been around for 10 years, it has [been] elevated from just a simple phone to doing anything in our lives. For IoT to really function, we need a good ecosystem – intelligent clients, creative designers and a resourceful provider.

Q: How does IoT enhance our lifestyle?

A: IoT has three keys: time efficiency, comfort and being environmentally friendly. For example, after a long hot summer day, when we go home we want to be in a cool, air-conditioned environment. In [the] old days, we’d set the timer to have the air con on at 6pm, for example, but it wasn’t environmentally friendly because we were not necessarily home at six. With IoT we can now probably set our air con to come on an hour before we come home. That way, when we arrive home, we are in a perfectly air-conditioned environment and we are happy, saving energy without sacrificing quality of life.

Q: Hong Kong living spaces are generally compact. Does it present more challenges to your work in integrating IoT with design?

A: Size is not the most important thing, it’s about how to make use of what is available. Again, it’s about the play of emotion, play of your wish list, knowing what to demand what would suit [the way] you live, the way you work, and to suit the budget that you have.

Q: How will IoT change the way we do things at home?

A: We live in an age of big data. I think ultimately, in terms of how IoT will interact with our daily life, big data has a big part in it. For example, if I invite you over for dinner, I’ll probably know well in advance what your favourite dishes are and the smart fridge can order the food from the supermarket.

iot in Style showroom at io.t by HKT Concept Store

Shop 2001A, Fire Zone, Elements, 1 Austin Road, Kowloon