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Q&A: Ricci Wong on what it means to be an artist-maker-architect

by on Jun 11, 2018 in Architecture , Interiors , Perspective Promotions
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Ricci Wong (of RAAW and LAAB studio) combines his skills as an architecture-trained artist and maker to create inventive and whimsical designs

Trained to be an architect, Ricci Wong founded his design workshop in 2011 as a centre for experimental design. This led to his co-founding LAAB studio two years later, which was based on the concept of "artist-maker-architect". Wong went on to create hundreds of public art and design projects and win numerous awards. In 2016, he set up RAAW to focus on public art installations and interior design, local design cultures and craft works.

What inspired you to set up RAAW?
The 'AA' in the name refers to art and architecture, in which I received formal training. The link between the two gives me a lot of insight and inspiration to shift from monochromatic professionalism to a diversified way of practising arts in terms of spatial practice.

Business in mind, artist in touch and architect in action

At RAAW, we hope to bring back the pure meaning of art and architecture through spacious, playable and communicative structures. We are currently focused on five types of design services: art, commercial, dining, living and playable designs. The newly rebranded RAAW+ manages our own brands, such as MicroinT (a Hong Kong-designed transformable micro-interior systems) and madeinRAAW (a Hong Kong designer product series); they make use of our award-winning designs, craftsmanship and hands-on experience in technology and R&D to produce locally designed realistic furniture and products.

WIND CHARM. Ricci Wong created 28 rings on thin steel columns that move in the wind for the award-winning PLAYOHO art pavilion at Yuen Long

WIND CHARM. Ricci Wong created 28 rings on thin steel columns that move in the wind for the award-winning PLAYOHO
art pavilion at Yuen Long

How does your workshop help you with your business and design?
Our design and fabrication lab RAAW studio in Fo Tan artist village plays a key role in creativity and design – other practices may not have that advantage. The workshop allows us to craft inventive materials and provides training to my colleagues to deliver quality in our work. It's also a place where new ideas are made.

Did your training in architecture and the visual arts help your creative process?
The disciplinary training in rationality in architecture, and artistry in visual arts, have driven me to different approaches in my work. This professional training reminds me to get a balance between creative and commercial values – business in mind, artist in touch and architect in action.

What is the role of an "art-chitect"?
Trained to be an architect; working as an interior designer; being an artist; and running a happy creative business: I enjoy the role of an art-chitect who generates smart-living surprises through experimenting with materials, craftsmanship and artistic and structural design in interior and exterior creations that have a strong human connection. Thomas Heatherwick's creative works also inspires me a lot.

'Neo-Cantonese' is how Wong describes The Morrison, an artist residency space for visiting scholars and artists at the F22 Foto Space gallery in Happy Valley

'Neo-Cantonese' is how Wong describes The Morrison, an artist residency space for visiting scholars and artists at the F22 Foto Space gallery in Happy Valley

What qualities do you see in Hong Kong designers?
Being a Hong Kong designer, I always try to be open-minded to embrace new opportunites and to take different spatial challenges from new clients. We have unique history, culture and multi-ethnic background. We are in good position to make our own statements and redefine Hong Kong design amid the cross between Eastern and Western cultures.

How does the Hong Kong Trade Development Council's (HKTDC) DesignInspire play a part in raising the interest and awareness of the public to Hong Kong designs?
The DesignInspire exhibition was fun and had audience appeal. My artwork Screen of Love created a lot of interaction with the public. I treasure this kind of direct communicative experience. I also had some business opportunities. I hope the public can experience more Hong Kong design in the future through various platforms. I look forward to more collaborative opportunities with the HKTDC.


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