DX delegates with Jonah Houston – Creative Director of IDEO and his team at IDEO San Francisco

Hong Kong Design Talents Explore Co-Creation in Exchange Tour in California

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Technology and the human experience intersect in many ways in today’s connected society. Hong Kong’s emerging designers are exploring the question of how design and technology can merge to create solutions for the world’s urban, business and sustainability issues.

Twelve Hong Kong designers were selected to join a nine-day trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles that took place from 14 to 22 September. As an emerging force in global design, Hong Kong as a city of global vision and local values plays a key role in the creative and entrepreneurial culture of both the Bay Area in the US and the Greater Bay Area in China.

Organised by Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC) and sponsored by Create Hong Kong, the Design Exchange Tour (DX Tour) aims to reinforce Hong Kong’s emerging position as a creative hub of design excellence in Asia. The DX Tour expands the global vision of emerging local designers and cultivates their aspirations for producing designs with international impact. Previously, three DX Tours had taken place in Bangkok, Melbourne and Tokyo since 2018.

“Hong Kong is a dynamic, multi-cultural city known for its can-do, entrepreneurial spirit, understanding of global and local values as well as agility in responding to new phenomena,” said Eric Yim, chairman of HKDC.

“The twelve designers at DX Tour California represent an emerging force which is well- poised to tap into the design culture in California and create new creative connections between the Bay areas in California and China.”

Two flagship events were staged during the tour. Both discussed the expanding role of design in tackling global challenges. The “Co-creating Hong Kong” exhibition in San Francisco was co-hosted by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office in San Francisco and HKDC, with the support of AIGA San Francisco. The exhibition featured 14 unique projects by Hong Kong’s creative talent.

At the "Co-creating Hong Kong" exhibition, the entrepreneurial and creative spirit of Hong Kong was apparent in the designers' showcase. Pictured here is Edward Yau Tang-wah, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development of the HKSAR Government, visiting the exhibits.

Another flagship event was the thematic session at the “Think Asia, Think Hong Kong”

A member of the audience tried out a virtual reality (VR) experience by Hong Kong designer Roy Lo of Creote Studio, whose specialty is merging augmented reality and VR technologies with practical applications in various industries, including elderly care, health and safety and customer service.

(TATHK) conference in Los Angeles, examining the topic “Design x Technology: Now and Beyond”.

The DX Tour also consisted of study trips to studios and companies in San Francisco. The delegates visited industry leaders at Autodesk Gallery, IDEO, Oculus, and Whipsaw. The visits in Los Angeles explored the cross-over between design, fashion, spatial experience, entertainment and digital media. Studios visited include Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, Portals XR, Southern California Institute of Architecture, and Virtue (the creative agency by VICE).

One of the DX Tour delegates, Bodin Hon of Yellowdot Design, said that as he is designing his new studio in Hong Kong, seeing the strong culture of Silicon Valley companies gave him inspiration. He recalled the visit to the IDEO office.

“We saw the balcony facing the bridge, then the next room with some dogs, and the roof full of bikes,” he recounted. “You can immediately see why they do things differently and can think out of the box.”

The DX Tour also inspires his future projects in product innovation and retail concepts. The visit to Oculus and the discussion on virtual reality (VR) made him think about how to apply VR in retail experiences.

Bodin Hon of Yellowdot Design, who specialises in product design and retail concepts, enjoyed the visits to leading Silicon Valley startups and entrepreneurial companies. The culture of creativity and design thinking would inspire his work, he said.

“It is not either the physical world or the virtual world, but it is more about how we can merge the two worlds together,” he said.

Another DX Tour delegate, Ian Hau, said that the DX Tour inspired him to think about solving challenges in communities in the new economy.

“Many communities today are attracting multi-generational talent by becoming desirable places to live,” he said. “A city’s brand can serve as a beacon to catch the attention of talent from around the world, and the industries within a city serve as a magnet for attracting young talent.”

Ian Hau of XLMS, whose design focus is in communities and environments in large-scale mixed-use projects, said that the Design Exchange Tour inspired him to think about a city's brand as a beacon that attracts talents from around the world.

The DX 2019 delegation comprises emerging designers from various design disciplines from fashion to digital media, architecture and product design. Among them are also past winners of the DFA Hong Kong Young Design Talent Award (DFA HKYDTA), and incubatees of the Design Incubation Programme (DIP) and Fashion Incubation Programme (FIP) organised by HKDC.

The twelve Hong Kong designers who participated in DX Tour include Alan Cheung
(onebitedesign), Henry Chu (pill & pillow), Ian Hau (XLMS), Bodin Hon (Yellowdot Design), Fiona Lau (FFIXXED STUDIOS), Mazing Lee (Lify), Michael Leung (Studio AA), Roy Lo (Creote Studio), Kat Luk (eMotionLab), Emily Tang (Studio Doozy), Clement Tien (Arical), and Nicholas Tsao.

These designers will exhibit their works and inspiration from the tour as a finale in the upcoming DesignInspire, to be held in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from 5 to 7 December, 2019.