每日跟讀#574: Hong Kong Recast As Hub of Creativity


· 每日跟讀單元 Daily English

每日跟讀#574: Hong Kong Recast As Hub of Creativity

When Candace Campos moved from the United States to Hong Kong six years ago, she encountered few hurdles to opening her own interior design company.


She started small, transforming her 70-square-meter home from a gutted commercial rental into a bright living space styled like a New York loft. A 2008 cover piece featuring her apartment in the Hong Kong magazine Home Journal drew interest from expatriates who wanted to bring Western aesthetics into their Hong Kong homes.


“The idea of leaving pipes exposed, beams and columns raw, and floors as concrete was not a design aesthetic found in Hong Kong,” said Ms. Campos, 34. “So it was easy to stand apart from other designers.”


Her company, ID Interiors & Identity Design, has produced designs for restaurants like the Michelin-starred Tate Dining Room & Bar . Ms. Campos said the absence of homegrown talent has given her an advantage. Her biggest competition, she noted, comes from other expatriates .


But Hong Kong, known more for its cargo ports and financial sector than for a vibrant cultural or creative scene, is working to move past an economy based on manufacturing and reproduction of goods to one based on innovation, branding and design, said Stanley Chu, 64, of the Adsale Group, which organizes international trade shows in Asia.


In 2009, the government established CreateHK, an office dedicated to developing creative industries, which broadly include advertising, architecture, design, cultural heritage, the performing arts and film.


The office has also worked with the local educational system, from primary schools to colleges, to develop curriculums for teaching film, animation and architecture.


The initiatives are starting to pay off. The contribution of the creative industries to the territory’s gross domestic product increased to 4.9 percent in 2012 from 3.9 percent in 2007, according to the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department — about 97.8 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $12.6 billion. The number of people employed in those fields also increased by 20,000 from 2007 to 2012, to 200,370.


The former Police Married Quarters, barracks from the colonial era, were transformed under a conservation plan. The site, now known as PMQ, opened in April and now houses studios for more than 100 entrepreneurs in the creative industries, many of whom are product and fashion designers. It holds workshops on marketing and branding and has received more than 1.5 million visitors since it opened.


Executives in creative fields say that although the local talent pool may be deepening, customers’ views on creative work can remain stuck in the past.


The Savannah College of Art and Design, an American university, is joining other efforts to bring credibility to the creative fields in the territory, said Robert Dickensheets, the college’s vice president in Hong Kong. It opened its Hong Kong campus in 2010. Enrollment increased to 600 in this year’s incoming class from 141 in 2010.


Lucia Ho, 21, who attended the university, works full time for Peninsula Merchandising Limited, which produces merchandise for the Peninsula hotel chain. She helped design the packaging for the hotel’s mooncakes. She noted that of the 13 graphic design majors in the school’s first class, 11 had job offers before graduation in June.


As more people like her find work in the nascent creative industries, they will begin to change the general perception of such work in Hong Kong, Mr. Dickensheets said.


The long-term goal for Hong Kong, he said, is to create a culture in which “the designer can be valued as much as a banker.”


Source article: https://paper.udn.com/udnpaper/POH0067/271173/web/#2L-5361749L



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