Interview With Eric Chan From Hong Kong

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Eric Chan

With multiple counts of award wins under his belt, Eric Chan scores his first one with MUSE Design Awards. See how he does it here in this exclusive interview!

Interview with the 2022 MUSE Design Awards Winner - Eric Chan

1Please give us a brief bio of yourself and your design background.

I am Eric Chan, the Co-Founder/Design Director of O&O Studio. I studied at The University of Nottingham with a MEng Master degree and graduated with Diploma in Architecture at The University of Westminster with Distinction. In 2007, I joined and spent over 4 years at the highly acclaimed London practice, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) where I qualified as an Architects Registration Board (ARB) registered architect. I was involved on several award-winning education, conservation and residential projects in the UK and South Africa, and had also contributed vastly to public architectural events and public consultation programmes.

Moving from London to Shanghai in 2011, I joined the world renowned Safdie Architects, the practice led by the 2015 AIA Gold Medal recipient, Moshe Safdie. I was one of Safdie’s Team Leaders in the 24billion RMB Capitaland mixed-used development, Raffles City Chongqing (RCCQ) project, leading and managing the Conservatory façade and interior design, as well as Podium Roof and Skylights design.

With over 12 years international experience and as a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Chartered Member, I also hold a CIBSE membership and has developed a strong interest on integrating sustainability into project delivery. I was part of the AHMM Environmental Group which was awarded the AJ100 Most Sustainable Practice Award, with a strong passion in analysing the client’s brief and vision and collaborating with other creative professionals. I am also very keen on exploring architectural space through photography. My award-winning work has recently been exhibited and published in London, Copenhagen, and the USA.

After spending 5 years with Safdie Architects, I moved back to Hong Kong in 2018 and co-founded O&O Studio with Suzanne Li. I was recently awarded THE FOURTH CHINA NEW POWER INTERIOR DESIGN TOP 10. In just three years, O&O Studio’s projects have already claimed over 10 international design awards.

2What made you become/why did you choose to become a designer/artist?

I love the time and fun when collaborating with others, inspiring each other to brainstorm new ideas. But the most interested moment would be working with children. They always surprise us with pure, fantastic and exciting thought processes. That's why O&O STUDIO ultimately want to focus on community and kids related placemaking projects in the near future.

3Tell us more about your business/company, job profile, and what you do.

Both myself and my wife, Suzanne Li, are UK-registered architects. We have been designing award-winning buildings for more than 12 years. In 2018 we set up O&O Studio based in our vibrant home city of Hong Kong, providing consulting services on architecture, interior design, pop-up installation and master planning. “Out and Outer” is the work ethos of O&O Studio. We are fully committed to our clients with an outgoing attitude towards every commission, from its beginning to completion and occupation.

While the design-led studio encompasses a diverse range of international experience in the architecture industry, having delivered projects across different scales and sectors and for a variety of stakeholders and clients, we ultimately want to put our focus on community and children-related placemaking projects in the near future. We want our spatial creation to not only perform by itself but as importantly as with the context and the end users, particularly for our next generation.

4What does “design” mean to you?

We love to see what kind of “values” a new design will bring. The added “values” to a new design is crucial in making it successful or not, in which these “values” cover many broad aspects within. Such as aesthetic, practicality, sustainability, client’s business and end users experience. It means nothing to a client of end user if a design looks cool but being impractical.

5What’s your favorite kind of design and why?

I still love architecture. Although O&O Studio’s recent works are mostly interior design and public space projects, we hope to be involved in a real architectural project in the near future.

6To you, what makes a “good” design?

One that is filled with benevolence, carried with warmth, created with passion. That would make it a “good design”.

7Describe your design style and its main characteristics.

“Originate – As We Envision, Originate – As We Create”

In O&O, we do not have a standardized design formula, but instead recognizing and nurturing the influential design morphology that delivers fresh values to each commission. We believe that each project has its own origin. The design proposal should originate from a critical and cohesive process of strategic and visual thinking through to the end users’ evaluation, thus informing the next even more successful project.

8Tell us about your design process.

“We distill the client’s brief and create unique and articulated resolutions for each specific circumstance. We establish a close relationship with the client, stakeholder, and the project team to realise a successful project. With our achievements in photographic productions, we are also aspiring to symphonise photographic essences to inspire the crafting of spaces and identities. We originate our design that performs through its composition, materiality, and spatial layering.

9Do you think your country and its cultural heritage has an impact on your design process?

We have spent years in Europe and in the Mainland, and now relocated in Hong Kong and established our studio. The cultures, climate, and people we met are certainly very unique among these places. It is interesting to say that the three different languages we speak (English, Mandarin, Cantonese) helped us a lot in the brainstorming and analytical design process. Each language will bring us fresh and unique ideas in a literary way.

10Congratulations! As the winner of the 2022 MUSE Design Awards, what does it mean to you and your company and team to receive this award distinction?

Thank you! We are thrilled to be a winner in the 2022 MUSE Design Award! It means a lot to us as a start-up, as well as most importantly with Siu Kai Fong being a community engagement art installation project. It is a big achievement to us as we built up stronger and stand firm with our belief upon achieving this recognition.

11Can you explain a bit about the winning work you entered into the 2022 MUSE Design Awards, and why you chose to enter this project?

O&O Studio’s project, Siu Kai Fong, is the Silver Winner in the 2022 MUSE Design Awards under the Public Art and Public Art Installation category. This category fits perfectly with the typology of our Siu Kai Fong project, as well as the project’s first award claimed.

In response to Hong Kong Arts Centre’s open invitation for community-driven public art, the team’s winning entry Siu Kai Fong joined seven other installations. The work was commissioned with support from the Urban Renewal Fund and acts as a reflection of the neighbourhood’s daily usage of the causeway. Further, it captures the historic district’s personal narratives through repurposed furnishings gathered from North Point households and businesses for visitors to experience a piece of the past.

Through extensive on-site research, the team learned that users of the causeway bring household furniture to use and share. This observation became the basis for Siu Kai Fong. To start, the team reached out to the North Point community for donations. It eventually received dozens of chairs and tables; the ones with compelling histories were documented with oral narratives accessible via scanning QR codes embedded on each piece. The final installation is an urban living room compilation of loose furniture complemented by painted floor graphics inspired by colourful heritage patterns commonly found in tenement buildings.

After the exhibition ends, components from Siu Kai Fong will live on through charity sales and educational events to achieve a closed loop cycle that continues to benefit Hong Kong communities.

12What was the biggest challenge with this project?

At the time during the furniture collection campaign, we had no idea what kind of tables and chairs we would receive. Once we had, luckily, received the over 40 pieces of community furniture, we then categorized them and revised our upcycling design accordingly. The tight timing is also another big challenge. Siu Kai Fong is a community engagement public art project and it should really take at least a year from start to completion. We spent a lot of effort for about 4 months from the collection campaign and completion which is to be honest quite an achievement.

13How has winning an Award developed your practice/career?

It definitely helped from both the PR and business development perspective. Potential clients approached us in the past after reading the news and articles about us on the winners and interviews pages.

14What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?

Interviews, media publications and winning an award. It is not only about our own studio, but it is important for us to share the success with our clients, and that further adds values to our client’s business.

We have not thought about being famous. As architects, this is our profession and we are putting a lot of effort at the moment to build up a good foundation for O&O STUDIO as we want to let our current and future clients know getting to know more about our philosophy.

15What makes your country specifically, unique in the design industry?

I think the East meets West aesthetic and the historical context and flavour that the citizens remember and the designers extracted for the creativity use is very unique on our planet.

16Where do you see the evolution of design industry going over the next 5-10 years?

As a start-up, it is going to be a really challenging time for us. We have to see how the pandemic evolved in the coming one or two years. There are things that have been changing and will evolve more in the near future. Architects create space, and we are talking about real sensory experience. Simple questions then come, can we and do we still rely on travelling for making site visits? We have been talking a lot on the Metaverse, VR, etc. How can we make use of the technology while getting a good balance?

17If you were a student entering this industry or an aspiring MUSE Design Awards submitter, what advice would you give them?

Be confident, and be professional!

18What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the design industry?

Let’s hope we can travel again soon like in the old days! That will be the best way!

19Tell us something you have never told anyone else

It would be a really great honour to me if I can be one of the MUSE Design Award judges in the near future!

20Who has inspired you in your life and why?

From a profession perspective, it has to be the mentors that I met and worked with throughout my career in London and Shanghai. The vast amount of knowledge and experiences that they shared with me with regards to the design industry and the business management have been so valuable. Now that I have set up a studio and I should make good use of all these assets. I aim to be a good mentor as well in the near future to inspire our fellow teammates.

21Do you have anything else you would like to add to the interview?

I would hope that one day I could design an airport. I am always intrigued and triggered by all the come and go, and all the happy and sad moments. An airport carries so much in it not only on the technical side but also on the humanity aspect. I would love to give a go at creating a unique terminal!

Winning Entries



Memories of north point north point residents’ oral histories and beloved furnishings inspired O&O Studio and rehyphenation’s Siu Kai Fong, showcasing a rich tapestry of the neighbourhood’s past for the present. In response to Hong Kong Arts Centre’s open invitation…
(read more at MUSE Design Awards)

Eric Chan

With multiple counts of award wins under his belt, Eric Chan scores his first one with MUSE Design Awards. See how he does it here in this exclusive interview!

Read our recent interview with Lilian Santini and how doing a cultural deep dive benefits many of her designs at The Copper Portico!