Perspective talks to Britta Butler, founder of Hong Kong-based B Squared Design, about her creative process and the most challenging commissions she's faced
Tell us about your practice.
I founded B Squared Design in 2014. It specialises in innovative residential design, but we also work on a wide range of projects, from pop-ups to commercial spaces. Our approach is one of exploration and problem solving, and our ultimate goal is to create spaces that our clients love to live and work in. B Squared Design is passionate about finding ways to fulfil our clients' creative aspirations, while concurrently meeting their practical and budgetary needs.
I take cues from the world around me: media, magazines and other disciplines – not just design – and put together design boards that inform the drawings and renderings that finally get translated into reality
How would you describe your style?
I create homes that are beautiful and functional for people from all walks of life; they become their sanctuaries from the outside world. Each project is so individual, depending on the client, but I have some overarching themes that run through all my designs: clean lines, contemporary spaces, and an attention to texture and colour.
How does your design process work?
I like to meet with clients and really try to understand their vision for the project, their likes, dislikes and dreams. All of these I incorporate in the process – the final product should ultimately reflect who they are, not who I am. It's an incredibly fluid and organic process, with a lot of conversations and feedback. I also take cues from the world around me: media, magazines and other disciplines – not just design – and put together design boards that inform the drawings and renderings that finally get translated into reality.
Which field of design gets you most excited?
Residential design gets me most excited because homes are so personal; it is so much more than choosing colours, a sofa and some drapes. I love working with individuals and families because creating a living space they want to come home to is not only a challenge but also a gift. I am always honoured that people entrust me with this responsibility.
Residential design gets me most excited because homes are so personal
What's the most challenging project you've worked on so far, and how did you overcome the obstacles?
The most challenging one so far was here in Hong Kong. It had to serve multiple functions for the client, who had an extensive art collection that needed to be showcased, as well as a desire to make an oasis in an urban jungle. I had to think creatively in terms of space usage. I designed bespoke furniture for the living room and bedroom that would be both functional and sculptural. I created spaces that evoked the feeling of a boutique hotel, using visually impactful materials, bold shapes and meticulously sourced one-of-a-kind furnishings.
There were many obstacles in terms of logistics, deliveries, and construction. The timeframe was tight to get everything done. But ultimately, I was able to overcome the obstacles by thinking outside of the box for sourcing and materials, and working extremely closely with my amazing project manager Tina Mak of Beehive & Co. to make sure the schedule and high quality of craftsmanship was maintained.
You've perceived a significant gap in the Hong Kong market for design firms. Please explain.
We offer not only interior design services but architectural services as well. We comprise a Cantonese-speaking project manager, trusted contractors, a full suite of handymen, carefully selected factories used to manufacture bespoke pieces and long-term cultivated relationships with furniture shops throughout the region.
What's it like to run a design business in Hong Kong?
If someone had told me 15 years ago that I would be living in Hong Kong with my family and running a design business, I would never have believed them. It's a dream come true being able to do what I love in a city that is now home to me.
This is an excerpt from “Squaring the circle", an article from the June issue of Perspective magazine.
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