What did you do before BeCandle? "Design is my passion, so, after getting my bachelor's degree in design and automation engineering from Chinese University, I went to the Accademia Italiana di Arte, Moda e Design, in Florence, Italy, to study furniture design. I worked as a product designer for a homeware company in Milan and for a brand of international lifestyle products in Hong Kong for almost five years before I co-founded design studio Atelier Poesia, which makes furniture and consumer products, with other designers in Italy."
What is the story behind BeCandle? "The name is inspired by martial artist and actor Bruce Lee's words 'Be like water', explaining the relationship between Taoist philosophy and martial arts. I think candles are like water in the sense that they can be shaped into different forms."
Why candles? "I started working with candles purely out of a personal interest in the material. As a medium of design, wax allows a broad range of experimental manipulations. Initially, I only created handmade, conceptual pieces for exhibitions. The candles got a great response so I decided to find out about manufacturing them.
"During the first year, we created novelty candles in different forms to present certain design concepts. Lost in Time was our first collection and we created candle moulds made out of old everyday objects such as a dial phone,which have all but disappeared from our lives.
"After two years of development, I wanted to do something more related to lifestyle. Inspired by Eastern and Western tea cultures, I came up with BeCandle Beads, grains of wax that become a refillable candle system. You pour them into a container - like water - and insert a wick. The process of preparing the candle with the beads, containers and accessories makes an elegant ritual - like a tea ceremony. You are not just lighting up a regular candle but are involved in its preparation."
What makes your candles special? "BeCandle Beads are made from vegetable-based palm oil extracted from sustainable Malaysian palm trees, free from pesticides and chemical solvents. There is an interesting story behind each collection. For example, we learned from local ladies how to make dim sum and we replicate this technique to create our Dim Sum candles."
How does BeCandle fit into Hong Kong home design? "Flexibility. The candles - especially the BeCandle Beads - go with any space, furnishings, style or personality. People can use their own fire-resistant containers, tin cans or even fruit peel as candle containers."
BeCandle products are available at Glue Associates (PMQ, 35 Aberdeen Street, Central) and www.becandle.com.hk