A visually ravishing masterpiece of moody atmospherics and unconventional, fragmentary storytelling, director Wong Kar-wai’s In the Mood for Love (2000) was a landmark cinematic production, not just in Hong Kong, but globally. Ruth Chao, founder of Hong Kong creative agency Ruth Chao Studio, tells Richard Lord how the film, and its art director, William Chang Suk-ping, changed her life. I saw the film when I was 12 or 13. It was the age of DVDs, and I just found it, put it in the machine and watched it by myself. As a child, I didn’t remember that much of the story. But it looked completely different from the rest of Hong Kong cinema. It was a new aesthetic experience – how great and how tasteful everything was. All the tiny details together made the storytelling experience so different and unique. There were all these slow-moving, almost dreamy sequences. I remember the feeling of that – like you’re in a beautiful dream. I love how it celebrates Chinese culture. As a child, I hadn’t seen culture presented this way. It had been all kung fu, Bruce Lee – all very pumped up. This was a tasteful, beautiful, alternative interpretation of our culture. It set me on a path of creativity, and to one day work with and learn from my idol, the art director of that film, William Chang (Suk-ping). I remember seeing it and that name kept coming up: he was the film editor, the art director, the costume designer. How reading How Women Rise changed the life of this jewellery expert Even aged 12, I was blown away that a person could be so talented. It completely affected the way I saw creativity and appreciated beauty. I checked out his other work in cinema and in design, and that set me on my path. When I was about 24 or 25, I was introduced to him through a friend. I was working with him in Beijing in less than a month. I didn’t plan for it, but at the same time it was like a dream come true. Thinking back, it was like a different life: staying in a no star hotel for one to two years, getting immersed in the culture of Beijing. You work from 10 to 10, almost every day. Film is fuelled by everyone being completely passionate about what they do. It’s a different mode of being. You see how much preparation there is: one and a half months to make a dress that appears on screen for three seconds. It’s a level of dedication I’d never seen. You see all the hard work that goes into the creativity. That hard work was what inspired me. Because of that, my work with my own company doesn’t feel arduous. There’s nothing I feel is too high a mountain. It’s the grit: not being afraid of it being tough.