About nine months ago, S.K. Lam, creative director of local creative boutique studio AllRightsReserved, was approached by Harbour City to be executive creative producer of an idea for this year's Christmas decor that now adorns the outside space between Ocean Terminal lobby and the five flag poles near the Star Ferry.
A Christmas Toy Story theme, unveiled as Toy to the World@Harbour  City which opened early last month, was put to Lam who was asked to work in conjunction with Hong Kong Disneyland's imagineers to recreate these loved characters.
'It was a fun concept and project,' says Lam, who is no stranger to fun exhibits and events at the mall, having worked on the Chocolate Trail events there during the past two years.
Inspiration came easily for Lam, known for his creative promotional work based on international animated and computer generated characters for films and television. 'Tourists and families like to shop at Harbour City, which has the signature Christmas decor in the city, and the theme that Harbour City and Hong Kong Disneyland wanted to create around the Toy Story idea was 'Great memories' and 'Moments to treasure', as both destinations aim for their visitors to experience and take away a wonderful memory this Christmas season,' Lam says.
When recreating the Christmas Toy Story scene for the mall, Lam was inspired by the message of the Toy Story movies. 'In Toy Story, all the toys are there to play with their owner, Andy, and be his favourite toys. Their greatest satisfaction is for Andy to be happy,' Lam says. 'They cherish Andy's companionship and friendship. It is all about 'cherishing' - cherishing your friends, family and each moment.'
Toy to the World@Harbour  City has Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jessie, the toy soldiers and Rex, and some story settings in large scale so that the people walking along the harbourfront from the Star Ferry to Harbour City look small.
'During the eight months of preparation, Walt Disney's imagineers have been sharing with us the background story and details of the Toy Story movie, inspiring our creativity,' Lam says. 'We often met with them [Disneyland] at 7 am to talk to the imagineers in the [United] States. The recreations had to be exactly right and we had to be meticulous in the details.
'As you may notice, the Christmas trees, gift boxes and spinning tops look very much like the real toys.'
Lam has been in the creative industry for more than 12 years - his company usually works on television commercials, branding, movie main visuals, events and publishing, and he has been involved with Christmas product campaigns. However, this is the first time he has been asked to do a Christmas mall event.
Hong Kong-born Lam remembers the excitement of seeing the Christmas lights along the harbourfront as a child when his parents took him to Tsim Sha Tsui. 'It was a memorable and magical experience,' says Lam, who was educated in Sydney where he lived for 10 years after completing his bachelor's degree in art.
Christmas decorations in recent years are not so high density as they used to be, Lam says. 'Although it's not as intense outside on the harbourfront as it used to be, the focus has shifted and many of the Christmas decorations have moved into the malls. Families also enjoy the holiday shopping more so now than when I was a kid.'
Other events that Lam has been involved with creating and executing include the 2006 Hello Kitty Secret House at the HITEC Centre in Kowloon Bay, which was the first large-scale exhibition in Hong Kong for this popular character brand. It attracted more than 55,000 people to see a Hello Kitty house, a free-standing silhouette Hello Kitty waterfall and interactive activities.
And events such as last year's Chocolate A-Z Exhibition and Chocolate Trail 2011, also at Harbour City, where chocolate makers and patisseries emerged from their bakeries with dainty handbags, accessories and gowns all made from chocolate. Larger-than-life-sized chocolate-looking bunnies (they were made from plastic) were placed in spots around the mall in celebration of the Year of the Rabbit.
Lam is known regionally for his ideas and concepts, working with South Korean, Japanese and mainland artists. 'I am fortunate to have that East-West mix due to my 10 years living abroad, so I can understand what other cultures want,' he says.