naked Group, which got its start in resorts, brings its trademark co-working concept to Hong Kong with naked Hub. Perspective catches up with its co-founder and chief design officer, Delphine Yip-Horsfield
Don't worry: you can keep your clothes on – Shanghai-based naked Group just wants you to shed all your previous notions of co-working spaces and resorts. Stripping down the concept of shared working to its bare essence through the naked Hub portfolio, two of these provocatively named spaces have recently set up shop in Hong Kong – the first on Bonham Strand in Sheung Wan (16 floors) and the second on New Street in Sai Ying Pun. And in Mainland China, the naked Retreats are aimed at urban travellers who want to escape the frenetic pace of the city and experience something unique.
Hong Kong-born Delphine Yip-Horsfield, naked's co-founder, chairman and chief design officer, got her start in the US as a Harvard-trained architect. She was working in Boston around the turn of the millennium when an opportunity arose. "My boss had a project in Shanghai; she asked if I wanted to go and I said, 'Okay, sure, just for a short time.' Three months turned into six months, then a year – and now it's my 17th year!" She received numerous accolades along the way, including one from Wallpaper* magazine in 2006. While based in Shanghai, she became a partner in her architecture firm; she also met her husband, Grant, and together they started naked Retreats. "He had this idea of bringing people away from the city to the countryside. In the beginning, I was just helping him with design on the side. But about four years ago, business was really picking up, so I decided to leave my company and join Grant full-time. We're basically co-chairmen; I look after the design and he looks after BD [business development], making deals and the business side."
Growing in leaps and bounds from just a few people to a staff of 50 today, naked has also begun an aggressive expansion push in Asia with partners and backers including Gaw Capital, Vanke and Minhong, as well as a recent merger with Singapore-based JustCo. Has it been difficult to expand? "Local knowledge is very important – whether it's contractors, materials, staff, marketing or sales," says Yip-Horsfield. "Singapore is a new market for us, but it's the gateway to Southeast Asia. We started talking to [JustCo founder and CEO Kong] Wan Sing and we hit it off. He'll basically lead our expansion in Southeast Asia – Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand – whereas we will focus on North Asia – Hong Kong, China, Japan, Korea and so on."
This is an excerpt from the “The bare truth" article from the October 2017 issue of Perspective magazine.
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