Enterprising designers offered space at former PMQ

The former police married quarters is now open to applications from talented young designers seeking studio and retail space

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 December, 2012, 3:26am

Talented local designers are invited to apply for a studio space at the revitalised former police married quarters on Hollywood Road, but only if they have a feasible business plan and can afford the rent.

The management of the heritage site, which will be transformed into a creative cluster called PMQ, said that the selection of designers applying for the 130 studio units will be based not just on their talent and creativity.

Creativity and enterprise each counts for 45 per cent of the score, said Lo Lee Oi-lin, a PMQ Management Company director and a member of the studio tenant selection committee. The rest of the score will be based on the tenant's contribution to PMQ and the community.

PMQ Management's chairman, Stanley Chu Yu-lun, said the site was an accelerator rather than an incubator, as the city does not have enough infrastructure supporting young designers graduating from incubation programmes.

PMQ matched the standard base rent with that of grade B offices in Central and Sheung Wan at the beginning of 2012 instead of retail spaces, though designers are encouraged to sell their works there.

For a 40 square metre space, the monthly standard base rent is HK$18,000. Up-and-coming local designers will be given a 20 to 50 per cent discount, depending on the location of their studio unit. Studios located at a higher level will be discounted further by 5 to 10 per cent. After discount, a studio space on a higher level is around HK$10,530.

PMQ stressed that the site will not become just another shopping mall. While designers will be demonstrating their design processes at their studios, six units are dedicated to a designers-in-residence programme. Events and seminars can take place at a 600 sq m multi-function hall, The Cube, and a 1,000 sq m space.

The creative cluster will also provide professional support and training for tenants in the middle of building up their businesses, said Stephen Ip Man-kwong, executive director of PMQ Management.

Ip said he expected that 70 per cent of the units will be let to local designers.

Young designers have high hopes for PMQ. Jeff Wan Chung-sing of the bespoke shoemaker Shoe Artistry said he believed that PMQ will be a good window for an international audience. The location was also an advantage, though the rent could be expensive for a start-up, he said.

He said he was planning to apply for a space at PMQ but he will be potentially sharing the studio with a partner from Singapore who does bespoke tailoring.

"We can share the rent, and collaborating with others can bring new chemistry," Wan said.

The site also welcomes established designers who already have more than one retail outlet and have a HK$3 million turnover a year. These established designers, local or overseas, will have to pay the standard rent.

The site will not break even for three to four years, its management said.

PMQ is expected to have a soft opening towards the end of 2013.