Open Book:

A Very Hong Kong Book Design Display 97-07

開卷:非常香港書刊設計展 1997-2007

March 7 through May 30, 2008

Hong Kong is a cosmopolitan city of vibrant energy, often portrayed as a shopping paradise through images mixing traditional Chinese culture and Western elements. Throughout its British colonial history, Hong Kong has slowly forged its own unique identity, which is recognizably “Chinese,” but, owing to its Western influences, not quite as “Chinese” as that of the Mainland.

With its intriguing mixture of traditional Chinese and Western components, Hong Kong design plays a leading role in the visual arts of the Chinese-speaking region. For this show, we have selected twelve of the most prominent books designed in the past ten years by Hong Kong designers and studios. These selections exemplify the unique design identity and culture of Hong Kong, with the best contents, art and creative directions, as well as cutting-edge designs that received international acclaim.

We open the display with a book entitled Very Hong Kong, jointly published by the Hong Kong Design Centre (HKDC) and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. This volume, edited by a British professor teaching at the School of Design, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, consists of 87 design cases from in-house designers, design consultants, design entrepreneurs, brands and systems, and overseas designers. These 87 design cases provide a comprehensive overview of the development of design in Hong Kong from 1997 through 2007, making this volume a must-own “handbook” of Hong Kong design.

Chosen for their works that embody the unique culture of Hong Kong, we present the Red-White-Blue here/there/everywhere art catalogue, Yellow Bus’s Q&A on General Education, and Miss 13-Dot in Paris, a graphic novel by Lee Wai Chun, the renowned Hong Kong comics master known as “Fashion Designer on Paper.” Red-White-Blue is a canvas material “invented” in Hong Kong, and is best known for its use as a cheap duffel bag for Hong Kong people taking goods back to their homeland in mainland China. The designer Stanley Wong explored different ways to make use of the material in the art and design contexts; his design and art activities led to societal recognition of Red-White-Blue as an icon of Hong Kong culture.

Books selected to showcase Chinese cultural heritage in design are Selected Posters by Kan Tai-keung: Sentiments and Harmony; The Forbidden City – The Emperor’s Axis; A Wooden Chair; and The Birth of Modern Chinese Design. Author and designer Kan shares his philosophy and creative experience with readers in this compilation of poster designs. Professors at School of Design, Chiu Kwong Chiu and Jackie Yan-chi Kwok have published their research findings in their own areas of expertise. Both of Chiu’s books examine two “serious” design cases, “Qing Dynasty’s Forbidden City” and “Ming Dynasty’s Wooden Chair.” The author also worked on the design of his books, successfully balancing words and images in the final design. Author of The Birth of Modern Chinese Design, Jackie Kwok and a research team traced archival materials in China, Hong Kong, and Japan, turning out the first book to systematically examine the emergence of modern design in the Chinese context dating back to the late 1800’s.

As citizens of a globalized world, the younger generation of Hong Kong designers is producing work on the cutting edge of international design trends. IdN Magazine and Vision Quest (VQ) Bookazine have nurtured the development of a number of young designers in Hong Kong. All Rights Reserved’s S.K. Lam was the key creative director at IdN Magazine before starting his own publishing company. The art director of FAB Magazine by Fabrica, Benetton’s centre for fashion design, Javin Mo of MilkXhake was the designer of VQ Bookazine before beginning his internship at Fabrica. Tommy Li, one of five Alliance Graphique Internationale (AGI) members from Hong Kong, has been actively promoting Hong Kong’s newest generation of designers. Together with established and up-and-coming younger designers, they are remaking the landscape of “Very Hong Kong Design.”

Also on display are a selection of design case studies from Hong Kong and overseas designers, such as fashion designer Vivienne Tam, car designer Chelsea Lau, architect Edwin Chan, and product designer Richard Choi.

The book list

Heskett, John. (ed.) Very Hong Kong. Hong Kong: Hong Kong Design Centre, 2007.

Anothermountainman. Red-White-Blue here/there/everywhere. Hong Kong: MCCM Creations, 2005.

All Rights Reserved. Sticker Graphics 2 Do You Love Stickers? Hong Kong: All Rights Reserved, 2006.

Chiu, Kwong Chiu. The Forbidden City – The Emperor’s Axis. Hong Kong: Joint Publishing (Hong Kong) Company Limited, 2005.

Chiu, Kwong Chiu, Ma Kin-chung; & Chen, Han-wai. A Wooden Chair. Hong Kong: Joint Publishing (Hong Kong) Company Limited, 2007.

Fabrica. FAB Magazine. Italy: Fabrica, 2004-present. Art directed by Javin Mo of MilkXhake.

IdN. IdN (International Designers Network) Magazine. Hong Kong: System Designs Limited, 1993-present.

Tommy Li Design Workshop. Vision Quest (VQ) Bookazine. Hong Kong: Tommy Li Design Workshop, 1999-present.

Kan, Tai-keung. Selected Posters by Kan Tai-keung: Sentiments and Harmony. Hong Kong: Kan & Lau Design Consultants,1998.

Kwok, Jackie Yan-chi. The Birth of Modern Chinese Design. Hong Kong: Joint Publishing (Hong Kong) Company Limited, 2007.

Kwan, Mei-king (ed.). Yellow Bus’s Q & A on General Education. Hong Kong: Yellow Bus Publishing Limited, 2004.

Lee Wai-chun. Miss 13-Dot in Paris. Hong Kong: Comos Book, 2008.