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XXIV 24

by SCMP

XXIV 24

Interior designer and architect Steve Leung likes to plan ahead

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 November, 2013, 8:47pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 May, 2015, 11:35am

Steve Leung has built his career with the same attention to detail he brings to every building and design project. "It was always my aspiration to set up my own practice, even on day one when I started my university studies," says the founder and managing director of Steve Leung Architects and Steve Leung Designers. "I'm the kind of man who likes to plan ahead - plan my career, plan my life. I always have my target for the next year. In the beginning of the year, I'll think about what I'm going to do this year and also what I'm going to do in the next year, in the next five years, or even in the next 10 years."

Growing up in Kowloon City, Leung's idol was an uncle who worked as an architect and was also a artist and musician. The younger Leung earned his bachelor's degree in architecture and master's degree in urban planning from the University of Hong Kong before launching his own architecture practice in 1987 at the age of 30.

He later merged with another company, eventually setting up his own architecture and interior design firms in 1997. After focusing on architecture for the first decade of his career, Leung's firm now spends 90 per cent or more of its time on interior design for everything from show flats and shopping malls to iconic buildings such as 39 Conduit Road. Based in Hong Kong, the company has three offices on the mainland and a combined staff of 360.

"There's a saying in the Western world that 'architecture is an old man's business', because you need a lot of time to get the right opportunity to demonstrate your ability," Leung says. "With architecture, you need five, six or even 10 years to complete a project, whereas with interior design projects you only need about one year, or at the most two years."

About three years ago, Leung partnered with a restaurateur and lighting designer to open such stylish eateries as Mango Tree, Sushi Ta-ke and Bella Vita. In that time, he's also started designing furniture and fixtures, staged the second exhibition of his work and published a second book. It's all part of the 55-year-old's master plan.

"I've already started telling people that I'll be semi-retired at 60 years old. And I'll be fully retired at 65 years old. But I don't mean I won't be doing anything," he says, noting that he will gradually scale back time at his design company to pursue more personal interests.

"I have my dream projects. One is building my own house - I want to get a piece of land and build my own house from scratch. The second dream is to design a small boutique hotel, from architecture to interior to decoration," he says. "When I retire, I'll probably be busier than I am now."