You know you live in a cool-creative neighborhood when Aesop moves in. (See last article… please note i’m only half-facetious with this statement). Additionally, if you don’t already know, this “cool” neighborhood, Sheung Wan, is only one of a handful unique design districts in the city… and according to the 2nd edition of the Creative City map by Lancashire Road’s Louise Wong and Whitespace’s Danielle Huthart, there are at least 6 Cool Districts in Hong Kong to get to know better.
Creative City Map-Guide.
I’ve established late last year that Hong Kong is now officially NOT a Creative Desert, so please I don’t want to hear that phrase around me anymore. In fact, I will kill this phrase with this article today. But the reason why I mentioned it is because when we sat down for a bit of coffee and brunch at MANA! (Hong Kong’s newest Slow-Food Vegetarian offering on Wellington Street… also highlighted in the Creative City Map) with Danielle, Louise, and my lifestyle contributor, Cheryl Rodriguez, this very question of “Is Hong Kong REALLY a Creative City?” Did come up many times in our conversation.
A chat with the team behind Creative City Map-Guide at MANA!.
MANA! Hong Kong, exterior. (Taken from my Instagram @theWanderlister)
A few of the things that popped up in the chat was that yes, now Hong Kong IS a Creative City but there is a long way to go, namely more support from the Government of Hong Kong to push and support creative industries (HELLO! Tax Incentives for Profit Making/Sustainable Creative and Artistic Ventures please!) and the willingness of the city to foster and aid the creation of unique and creative neighborhoods. When Danielle Huthart established Whitespace a few years ago in the middle of Sheung Wan, the neighborhood was yet still to be the design and stylish destination enclave it has turned into today… and her studio is Design Hong Kong’s Ground Zero.
Whitespace’s Danielle Huthart at MANA, June 2012.
Louise and Danielle first met at DETOUR, Hong Kong’s annual design showcase event which occurs the same week as BODW Business of Design Week. Since meeting, they’ve since agreed to collaborate on a hobby creating a coolfinder map for Hong Kong… Louise doing research and Danielle doing layout and print coordination with a handful of collaborators; namely Daydream Nation, Graphic Airlines, SCAD HK, and Shanghai Street Studios. If that wasn’t enough, there are 4 additional limited edition covers designed by illustrators; Graphic Airlines, Don Mak, Emily Eldridge and Emilie Sarnel.
4 Limited Edition Covers for Creative City 2nd Edition. You have to find them to Collect!
The 1st edition was wildly successful and now the 2nd edition focuses not only on what to do in the 6 districts, but where to hang out for your “third place”, the ideal coffee shop where you can work outside of home or office (yes foreign to the city, normal concept everywhere else in the world). The sudden sprout of independent coffee culture in Hong Kong, according to the map’s designers, reflects the growing need of creative individuals to find a place and a space to create, socialize, network, and mingle with like minded individuals. IE. The rise in coffee culture usually relates to the rise of a creative cultural community. We are witnessing this now in Hong Kong.
Befitting the overall idea of the 2nd Edition map, we all meet at MANA! for some coffee and good healthy vegetarian fair. It was my first time here and I absolutely love it. I have only munched on wraps and drinks but based on what I had, I would definitely come back. And now on to the interview…
Louise and Me… and this map you’ve got to have.
theWanderlister+ Asia INTERVIEW WITH DANIELLE HUTHART AND LOUISE WONG FOR CREATIVE CITY MAP-GUIDE 2nd EDITION / June 2012
W+: Whats up with Creative City!? It’s so cool. Tell us a little bit more about this Guide Map.
LW: Thanks, we’re happy to hear you like it! The idea behind the map-guide is to show a creative side of Hong Kong — a view that is not specifically presented in other maps or guidebooks. We focus on destinations recommended by Hong Kong-based creatives. The guide-map has six district maps on one side (Tsim Sha Tsui & Jordan, Sheung Wan & Central, Mong Kok & Yau Ma Tei, Wan Chai, Sham Shui Po & Shek Kip Mei, Causeway Bay & Tai Hang). The other side features a big map of Hong Kong and this year’s theme is about the city’s coffee culture.
W+: This is the 2nd edition of the map, so what did you guys do differently from the first edition? Was there a new focus? Anything that worked and didn’t work from the first time?
LW: Overall the maps are quite similar, though we made adjustments to improve the usability and durability of the map. We included descriptions for each of the locations and changed the quality of the paper, for example.
For the first edition, we surveyed people from across the creative industries and for this edition we worked with “district curators” in each of the six districts for their recommendations. We worked with Shanghai Street Studios, Daydream Nation, SCAD and others. It’s not necessarily better this time, it’s just a different approach to the same concept and one that we intend to continue exploring.
DH: The theme for the back of the map this time is about coffee and creativity. We believe the rise of cafe culture is a sign that there’s a demand for more creativity in the city. In the first edition, we looked at elements of intangible culture and we will probably have a different theme for the next edition.
Also new this time are the four limited edition sleeves we commissioned from Hong Kong resident artists. There are five different sleeves to collect, including our own. Our guest artists for this edition were Graphic Airlines, Don Mak, Emily Eldridge and Emilie Sarnel.
W+: How is Creative City different from other Guide Maps out there?
DH: The concept behind this map-guide is to show Hong Kong from the perspective of the creative community but at the same time, it’s not meant to be prescriptive - we want to encourage people to explore and experience Hong Kong in their own way. It is about introducing people to the sources of inspiration and creativity that our contributors have found in the city.
W+: Danielle and Louise, what was each of your roles towards putting together this map?
LW: Danielle oversees the design of Creative City, while I take care of the content. We work closely on every aspect from concept to production, deciding on who to speak to, what information to include and how to present it, whether it be through the design or “voice”. For example, the idea for six districts came out because of feedback we got from our collaborators from the first edition. The coffee theme evolved from an idea from the first edition where we considered focusing on the concept of “third places” in Hong Kong but at the time, it wasn’t as diverse as it is now.
W+: Are you both originally from Hong Kong? Did you go anywhere else to study your craft etc?
DH: I’m born and raised in Hong Kong to an English father and a Chinese mother. Before founding Whitespace, I was living in New York City where I attended Parsons School of Design to study communication design. During my 9 years in New York, I worked in a number of different studios and agencies— assisting photographers and art directors, creating websites, designing book and magazines, doing freelance illustration and making jewelry. I took a year off to travel and take a much-needed break before settling back in Hong Kong.
LW: I was born in Hong Kong, raised and educated in Australia. In 1997, I returned to Hong Kong to be a journalist. The best place to learn any craft is when you’re doing it. In my case, it was out in the field. I’ve filed stories from around the world including New York, Paris, Taipei, Bangkok and Beijing, where authorities detained me once for doing my job. I was also sent to the Pakistani-Afghan border after 9/11 and to the remotest parts of China. I eventually did a Masters of Journalism at HKU and that was when I developed a focus on arts, culture, design and creativity. Now I work on projects at the intersection of the creative industries and contemporary culture, with Lancashire Road.
W+: Tell us what you are most excited about from Hong Kong in the next 5 years?
LW: There’s so much to look forward to here! Art is a huge focus now, be it at a commercial level via the art fair or the numerous blue-chip galleries now in Hong Kong. How all of this transfers, engages and develops with local art will be interesting. We’re excited about new venues such as WKCD (West Kowloon Cultural District), CPS (Central Police Station for the Contemporary Arts), and even PMQ (Police Married Quarters Design Hub) to some degree.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of programming will be developed for these locations, as M+ has already begun to do. Those are the big ticket items but there are so many smaller, exciting projects that are also happening in Hong Kong. These are interesting because this is where the true creative energy thrives - the more these initiatives survive, the better it is for the city’s creativity.
Some images from MANA!… the menu. You have to try all these flat bread wraps…
I had “SPRING”, made of Avocado, Tomato, Garlicnaise (Garlic Mayonnaise) and Mint in Organic Wholemeal. Very Delicious.
For drinks I played it safe with the Homemade Lemonade made of fresh lemons, organic maple syrup, and cayenne pepper. (Next time I’ll try the Inka Shake with Banana, Figs, Bonsoy, Tahini, Honey & Cinammon… which sounds like a meal in itself.)
What’s up at Mana!?
It’s Good To Be Here. (Also check out my new eco-bag from Envirosax. Love the print!)
Louise’s Herschel Shopper. #JJStyle
I like the straws… conceptually.
Hummus from MANA!
You can also buy Vinegar and Spirulina here… as well as some bath and beauty products.
Outdoor seating area… (If only it wasn’t raining so much that day!)
Part-Owner of MANA!, Christian G Mongendre.
After lunch, we went to check out another Creative City highlight… MOUSTACHE where I had my first collaborative interview with Brew&Post Photographer, Carmen Chan. I was stopping by to do some some shopping and to pick up some Bespoke Jeans from friends, Alex and Ellis. Louise and Cheryl came with!
Business as per usual… Ellis helping out a customer. (Taken from my Instagram @theWanderlister)
Louise and Cheryl looking at the MOUSTACHE’S leather travel collaboration with Stiibu.
MOUSTACHE has their own guide book too. Very different from Creative City… this one more like a “zine” format with pictures and text focused on an assortment of hidden treasures all around Hong Kong.
Undergear and Summer Shirts.
Fancy a robe?
My purchase from MOUSTACHE that day. Summer shirt, a loofa, and a their Hong Kong book.
Meanwhile… speaking of Moustache and theWanderlister… check out what my friend, Jau, spotted while walking around in Singapore!
I WANDER what this is all about! Check out whats at the end of that arrow! LOL. :) Can someone go and take photos for me???
+ CREATIVE CITY x theWanderlister+ Asia MAP GIVEAWAY
For the next week, starting tomorrow morning you can win 1 of the 4 Limited Edition Creative City 2nd Edition Maps designed by Graphic Airlines, Don Mak, Emily Eldridge and Emilie Sarnel. All you have to do is:
1) ‘LIKE’ Creative City Facebook Page Here.
2) ‘LIKE’ theWanderlister+ Asia Facebook Page Here.
3) And leave a comment on the Creative City Facebook Page in regards to the status update; “Hong Kong is a Creative City. If you agree, tell us why”.
And that’s it! Two best answers will be chosen by Danielle and Louise, and the other best answers will be picked by Cheryl and me for theWanderlister+ Asia. Winners will be notified by Facebook or Email.
CREATIVE CITY is now available at Bookazine (Canton House, Ocean Terminal, IFC Mall, Prince’s Building, Shui On), Dymocks (Harbour Centre), Island Shangri-La Hotel, Cosmos Books (Wan Chai), Kapok, Loveramics, and K11 Design Store. It’s also available online from the Whitespace website and the Creative City FACEBOOK. / http://www.creativecity.hk / Retail Price: 68HKD
Danielle Huthart @ Whitespace / 3rd Floor, Bonham Centre, 79-85 Bonham Strand Sheung Wan, Hong Kong / 2869 9081 / firstname.lastname@example.org / Whitespace ONLINE
Louise Wong @ Lancashire Road Online
MANA! Fast Slow Food / 92 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong / 28511611 / MANA! Online
Moustache / 31 Aberdeen Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong / 25411955 / Moustache Online