Hong Kong's distinctive colourful building blocks inspired the furniture set by Paul Tse of architectural firm New Office Works
Paul Tse is the co-founder and design principal of New Office Works (NOW), a Hong Kong-based architectural practice. The office received First Prize in the inaugural Hong Kong Young Architects & Designers Competition. Paul received his Master of Architecture from RMIT University in Melbourne, and Master in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University GSAPP, where he was awarded the Honor Award for Excellence in Design. He is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
What makes a good design? Should it be simply functional, or aesthetically pleasing?
Good design is not about giving priority to either function or aesthetics. It emerges from finding relevance to the way we live. Whatever the scale – whether an object, piece of furniture or building – if it responds to the issues of our times, it is automatically functional and beautiful.
In order to stand out, the focus should be less on how to compete globally and more on how to improve locally
What is Hong Kong design? How can it compete more effectively globally?
Hong Kong design has a tendency to follow trends, to be fashionable rather than spending time on the basics – the meaning behind the design concept and how the thing is constructed. In order to stand out, the focus should be less on how to compete globally and more on how to improve locally.
How did your training in architecture enhance your creative process and shape your design?
Architecture is an accumulation of knowledge and insight, over a wide spectrum – visual, technical, sociological, environmental, etc. These elements inform the so-called creativity.The debate about 'traditional versus modern' can provide challenges to local designers and architects.
How do you tackle this in your work and in your art installations?
Our biggest challenge is how to translate the notion of tradition without the design becoming a mere imitation. The importance of incorporating tradition in our designs is not only about the appearance, but also the sensorial and spatial experience.
Can you tell us about the design concept and message behind your installation for the Hong Kong Trade Development Council's DesignInspire exhibition in December?
Our project, titled Off the Grid, is a furniture set made from steel mesh, with coloured boxes embedded in a larger white-mesh box. The smaller boxes can pull out to form different sizes of furniture. The design speaks to different aspects of Hong Kong's architectural vocabulary – density, repetition, flexibility and colour.
How does the exhibition stir the interest of the public to Hong Kong designs?
I hope this exhibition provides an accessible platform to showcase local designs and what can be achieved with local designers and fabricators.