#theWanderlist: BEP Vietnamese Kitchen Stands Out By Fusing Street Style Viet Meals With Low-Key “Normcore” Branded Design, And It Works

For some new dining destinations in Hong Kong, maybe the best way to stand out is to keep things minimalist, easy, and not look like theres so much effort in trying to stand out. I mean new “must-go” restaurants in this city open almost every week, and this current normcore attitude, you know the “desire to NOT stand out” and the “opposite of hardcore”… is maybe what works if one really needs to make a mark these days amongst the glut of dining choices on offer.

That said, being normcore, is not as easy at it looks. One has to be methodical about materiality, textures, lighting, form, layout, and overall aesthetic planning. There’s a difference between a space or restaurant that’s minimally Designed vs. one that is just… well… empty.

BEP Vietnamese Kitchen opened just recently, and the group who runs it knows exactly what they’re doing since they’ve spent all these years perfecting the casual Vietnamese offer through their other brand, Nha Trang. BEP is located in a little alleyway just behind PURE Gym Soho off Staunton Street with a panoramic glazed window framed in a seemingly untreated silver aluminum cladding. The feeling is that of a diner you’ve seen before, and the immediate familiarity and openness in the facade design (also a row of tall chairs for outdoor seating), makes anyone feel welcome in this joint.

image

The interior and exterior work is designed by Candace Campos of ID, originally from Los Angeles, now based in Hong Kong. And Before BEP, Campos has worked on other F&B projects in the city such as Mana, Tate Dining Room, and Heirloom and a few other residential projects under her belt. Campos kept things minimal at BEP with light timber tables, and sexy chairs that look like folded cardboard. Columns are clad in square stark white ceramic tiles with a dark grouting which creates a “subway” style grid, underpinning all the light timber and raw concrete finishes. It feels like a cool easy anteen in Brooklyn or Los Angeles. 

Together with Campos, the branding work for BEP was executed by Danielle Huthart through her firm, Whitespace, with denim uniforms designed by Paola Sinisterra of Tangram (apparently). This is a style trio that’s hard to beat.

Oh and the food… so my friend, Louise, took me here one Saturday, and everything they’ve got are easy to eat shareable snacky dishes like Squid Cakes, Pomelo Salad, Stir Fried Clams, Beef Salad, Sesame Rice Crackers, Garlic Fried Chicken Wings, various options of Bun Chay (dry noodle with fried goods on top), and you know the basic Pho offerings. For those who are into that stuff… there’s plenty of Sriracha for you to plop into your meals. Price wise its a great deal with meals coming out to about 100hkd a person (and it’s Central…AND it’s a place you actually WANT to be seen in!) It could be my new local.

My favorite dish? The Banh Xeo, a thin flour crepe stuffed with shrimps, pork, lettuce, and herbs. I loved it with fish sauce. So delicious. Give it a go. It’s very economical, nothing to lose, lots to gain.

————

Some Photos via BEP Facebook. Some Photos by Me.

EAT BEP Vietnamese Kitchen . Lower Ground Floor, 9-11 Staunton Street, SOHO, Central, Hong Kong . T: +852 25227533 / DESIGN Candace Campos of ID / BRANDING Whitespace Hong Kong 

JJ.

 

#theWanderlist: Intersecting Art and Design at West Chelsea’s Hotel Americano

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

After my six day stay in Williamsburg, I packed up my bags and moved to the opposite end of the map, to Manhattan’s West side, where I spent my last two nights at the Enrique Norten-designed, Hotel Americano. Enrique Norten’s firm, TEN Arquitectos, is originally from Mexico, however projects like Grupo Habita’s 56 room boutique- Hotel Americano, opening in 2011, helped Norten establish a permanent presence in New York.

Compared to Williamsburg, the West Chelsea/High Line art district, is too a bit off the grid from Manhattan’s usual buzzy and traffic-crazed neighborhoods. So technically, staying at Hotel Americano, with its chain-mail clad facade veiling the hotel like a soft protective blanket, gives the building a character of introvertedness re-establishing a getaway experience right in the middle of the city.

image

image

image

image

image

The rooms have this minimalist Japanese x Scandinavian ambiance, with all the beds low on a timber-finish staging area. I stayed at the “Downtown King” room, where the soft glow of the window provides, a subtle Rothko-esque backdrop… and lifting this curtain allows for a more dramatic urban backdrop through the picture window. 

Materials are minimal… mirrored stainless steel working desks, fair-faced concrete flooring cool the touch, white marble tiles within the bathroom’s interiors, a glass and steel partition with a fritted pattern separating the shower from the bedroom area… all very modern reflecting contemporary architecture palate without losing the comfort sensibilities of “home”.

There are aspects of the room which is considered luxury… the iPad with an amazing selection of music and muzak which I had playing in the background the whole time, a great selection of self-labeled snacks (like the rich sea salt chocolate bar which everyone needs to try), and (the one item I loved the most), a bathrobe in soft denim. It’s fantastic.Unfortunately some items, ie. room speakers were not working (they are supposed to easily connect to the iPad), no complimentary drinking water in the room, and no coffee machine. But those are minor gripes for a hotel with just the right amount of comfort and generally amazing low key and personal Manhattan service.

image

image

image

image

image

Public areas are cozy yet not cramped. The design is very streamlined and completely Manhattan-modern-minimalist done right. Ok, at the very least it reflects the general ambiance of this area of Chelsea, with the neighborhood’s rustic factory facades and cool gallery interiors of every ground floor space. I loved the negative/positives of President Obama in cool Instagram-ish glory in the lobby’s sitting area. We think we’re cool? He’s definitely been there and done that.

Speaking of “gallery interiors”, it was so cool to meet up with Hong Kong-turned-Manhattan graphic designer, Danielle Huthart, and art critic / consultant of everything, Shana Beth Mason, together for an art + hotel jazz brunch on my last sunny Saturday in the city before jetting back to Hong Kong.  According to the latest M art map, I counted roughly 200 gallery spaces in West Chelsea around Hotel Americano. Like Shana says, the West Chelsea art scene is largely commercial, and the real experimental stuff worth seeing is in the Lower East Side (understandably). However, we’re already here for brunch, so we might as well see what’s around right?

image

image

image

Some cool shows we saw, digital prints on canvas by Linda Meiko Allen, titled Figmenta, closing July 31st, 2014 at the Nancy Hoffman Gallery.

image

Physical large scale collage works on display by Gabi Trinkaus at Claire Oliver which ends this month.

image

image

PACE Prints Chelsea has the latest neon works by Ryan McGinness on display.

image

Our two favourite shows… this sexy one, titled Goldenboy by Jeff Bark, which has since ended at the Hasted Kraeutler, consisting of prints and a sculptural tableaux.

image

image

image

And we also loved these very formal, yet hyper-real paintings by Pierre Dorion at the Jack Shainman Gallery.

image

image

Every year, Paul Kasmin’s gallery exhibits a free curated not-for-sale-show. I was so lucky to have been there when the space across the street from Hotel Americano was curating a superb show by Russian-Jewish painter Chaim Soutine, noted for his amazingly thick and messy brush strokes in muted colours, depicting animals and items he finds at the market. Not since a 1950 MoMA retrospective of his work has all his works made it for a non-sell exhibition under one roof.

image

image

image

A complimentary show by Walton Ford at Paul Kasmin’s other space on the corner of 10ave and Hotel Americano’s 27th street, feature vibrant watercolors of animal creatures from various fables depicted in a very illustrative moments.

image

image

Architecture lovers will love walking around the the neighborhood to revel in buildings that seemingly never age…

image

And the new sky-high mansions that take their place. This one below attempts at the quirk factor.

image

There are some more cool buildings, as one gets further south around W. 14th Street, like this Samsung shop with a twisted tower. If you know the designer’s name, please let me know!

image

There’s a wonderful building on 66 Ninth Avenue, called the Porter House, by SHoP Architects (with the black facade and vertical LED stripes.) You can’t miss it. It’s almost a landmark. It’a warehouse turned residential building.

image

Speaking of twisted, watch out for Renzo Piano’s new Whitney Museum to open next year.

image

And along the High Line park (a newly opened public green park ON TOP of the old High Line railroad tracks) designed by Diller + Scofidio, there’s an architectural view of  the big everything else; the “white sails” building by Frank Gehry dubbed the IAC, on the West Side Highway, and adjacent to it Jean Nouvel’s 100 11th Avenue. 

image

Speaking of the High Line, the second phase of the tracks just opened up, and it’s wonderful to be there. Views are framed… literally.

image

image

As for the first phase, the area closest to the Meatpacking District… the park’s architecture and its fixtures, are aging quite elegantly.

image

Across the street there’s a cool concept store called, STORY… claiming to have a “point of view of a magazine, changing like a gallery, and selling things like a store.” So basically the shop’s VM changes four times a year to a theme. And when I was there, the theme was “COOL”… which is appropriate for the summer. The “COOL” idea is reflected in the lightweight structure of straws, and held together by snowflake fixings at its intersection.

image

image

For restaurants, you can check out fusion-dim sum at the new, Buddakan NYC, a “modern-Asian” dining destination in a converted cookie factory designed by Christian Liaigre and founded by Stephen Starr also of Chelsea’s Morimoto. I enjoyed my drinks and food here and wish I had more than just bar snacks. The staff were very friendly, and the innovative selections, like their classic, “Edamame Dumplings”, is something definitely to look forward to, again on my next visit. It’s adjacent to the Chelsea Market… you won’t miss it.

image

image

image

image

I will miss this neighborhood. It’s in the middle of Manhattan, yet generally less rushed and more relaxed.

image

image

Thanks Smith Hotels and Hotel Americano for a great stay!

image

FYI. The red “summer wool” jacket i’m in the wearing in the #selfie above was tailored by Moustache in Hong Kong. I strongly recommend them and their work if one has time in Hong Kong to get anything tailored. 

STAY Hotel Americano . 518 W 27th St. New York NY 10001 / BOOK Mr and Mrs Smith Hotels / VISIT Art Galleries in West Chelsea / SHOP Story . 144 10th Avenue at 19th Street, NY NY 10011 / EAT Buddakan NYC . 75 9th Avenue, NY NY 10011 / VISIT The High Line, New York NY 10011 

JJ.

Obamarama!

This photo and tweet was most Re-Tweeted Tweet… around the world… ever.

US President Re-elect @BarackObama announces “Four More Years” on Twitter, and as of this post has had over 810,000 RT’s (ReTweets) and almost 295K Favorites.

For those who have been following the election, and has had NYTIMES or CNNGo on re-fresh every second, probably perceived the obvious even before President Obama’s TWEET, but for some of us… ie. Shelly Hayashi, Proprietor of General Store, HK/China’s Best Americana antique store, and Me, we guessed the win about a week in advance. Call it what you will, or call it intuition, but we then got together with Moustache’s Alex and Ellis to host Hong Kong’s only Election night celebration at Salon No. 10.

Shelly in front of the American Flag.

I was beyond ecstatic at this point.

Ellis and Alex Hard at work over what turned out to be, HK’s best Mac & Cheese.

The dress code was Americana and the entrance fee was “Pot Luck Americana” of which all the guests; Artists, Creatives, Gays, and Democrats Abroad Hong Kong… brought.

American Flag Cupcakes from Katrina.

The girls from KinderU Suzuki Academy, Monica, Allison, and Proprietor  Jennifer and all their American dessert goodies.

Which included this magnificent beauty…. what ever it was.

Shelly made Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches as well as Cheesy Sandwhiches fried on a frying pan. Delish.

In attendance were Ralph Lauren’s Gierdre as a Disneyfied tourist.

Michael clad in BYOB.

Danielle of WHITESPACE with Paul from Democrats Abroad.

Bernadette, with her Beef Chili. (Im gutted I turned vegetarian a week before this.)

Moses and his friend who was there to celebrate both Voter-Approved legalization of Gay Marriage and Marjiuana in a few key states.

With Colorado Cookies…. hmmm what are they?

Also celebrating, Katrina, Nightlife Guru Johannes Pong, and Time Out HK’s Arthur Tam.

Stars and Stripes at the hip.

At the bar… Billy boy.

Artist, Adrian Wong in my favorite herringbone American Apparel pullover.

Mac brings home the pie… appropriately from the American Club.

ChristingC, Dan, and Taiwanese popstar Katie of ROOMIE stopped by as well.

Lingzi in glorious gold.

Jason with 15squarestreet’s Louise who brought a whole package of OBAMABAUMS sold at 15squarestreet and online.

Thanks David and 15squarestreet for these OBAMABAUM, Obama Air Freshners! The guests loved them.

We ended the night re-watching the speech…

The decor by General Store at Salon No.10 was amazing. It felt like Election night in the 60s.

After the speech it was time to turn down the lights to watch some William Belli doing a Wilson Phillips drag impression about Chick-fil-A. Why? Because we CAN.

Thank you Salon No.10 Gang!

SHOP General Store / PARTY Salon No.10 / SMELL FRESH OBAMABAUM

JJ.

SCAD Style

2012 has been a great year for SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) this year. This past weekend the Hong Kong branch of SCAD opened its doors to open house for the general public to go and take a look at the American art school’s amazing facilities, located in the historic North Kowloon Magistracy Building in Sham Shui Po, a UNESCO Heritage Building at that.

Earlier this year a few HK Creatives, including myself, were able to take a tour of the school as well as offer a panel discussion for the students on topics that touch upon the subjects of HK Design and Social Responsibility and in my case, Fashion and Social Media.

This event, the first of its kind in Hong Kong, was titled SCADStyle 2012, with panelists such as Michael Leung (HK Honey / Shanghai Street Studios), Joanne Ooi (PLUKKA), Danielle Huthart (Whitespace), Collin Thompson (Ex-CEO Cipher), and Arne Eggers (HK Tatler)… all with whom I’ve written about in one way or another in this blog.

Arne and Me looking extremely serious. (We were talking about FACEBOOK.)

The turnout was great. And to make it more exciting, the lecture was located in the main courtroom which historically hosted some of Hong Kong’s most famous court cases.

We had fun with the panel discussion of course, but I actually found the tour the most memorable. I really felt like I wanted to go back to school. It seemed like a nice fun place to really “create”.

Additionally, the school had plenty of flexi-sitting out spaces which allowed for relaxed student interaction… afterall, most learning apparently occurs OUTSIDE of the classroom where students teach other students.

Most of the textiles, paintings, and objects that are spread around within the sitting out spaces were crafted by the students themselves.

The school is located within the historic Sham Shui Po district north of Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon. Here you can still find blocks of Hong Kong which reflect the city as it was before modernization. Chinese Building walkups from mid-20th Century are still preserved, and businesses still run the same way they’ve done so for many years. All these textures and visual flavours of course are captured by the students and published in SCAD Hong Kong’s first photo book, just released this year titled Tilting The Lens: Telling the Story of Sham Shui Po.

In attendance at the talk was blogger, Samantha Wong (center).

SCAD Alumn from Marc and Chantal, Jason.

Social Media consultant/guru, Taura.

Designer from my team at LWK, Frances (right) with Arne, both in black and beige.

Also I would like to thank my sister, Bernadette, my friend Andy, and another designer, Michael for coming to check out the talk as well.

Then it was a long taxi ride after, where I had a nice dreamy Wong Kar Wai moment on the way back to Central through the streets of Sham Shui Po.

SCAD in Hong Kong offers degrees for Advertising, Animation, Fashion, Fashion Marketing and Management, Graphic Design, Illustration, Game Development, Interior Design, Luxury and Fashion Management, Motion Media, Painting, Photography, Sequential Art, and Visual Effects. The degrees are an American Bachelors Degree. So if you’re born and live in Hong Kong, you can stay here and go to school, AND graduate with an American diploma. Not bad. But you can transfer to SCAD’s other locations in Atlanta, Lacoste, and of course, Savannah, as well.

Check out Whitespace’s Blog about SCAD STYLE 2012.

LEARN SCAD Hong Kong / READ Tilting The Lens / EXPLORE Sham Shui Po Neighborhood

JJ.

One-For-One 101

So this is my TOMS Collection.

Well not quite (although my own collection isn’t THAT far off).

This is actually the display of the store in Manila I used to visit just so I can choose a good pair of TOMS from an almost complete collection. Even Blake Mycoskie, the owner and founder of TOMS knows well the Filipino obsession for the shoes since it’s practically one of the first markets in Asia to embrace the alpargata, the name of the Argentinian shoes TOMS are modeled after. Actually I first wore TOMS in Boracay, where they were sold in a little fashion boutique shop. It makes sense really since TOMS are more akin to flip flops, usually worn in more relaxed tropical climates, than they they are to bespoke leather footware that us city folk use on a day to day business.

Well folks. Since Boracay… I find myself wearing TOMS on an almost day to day basis. Even to work.

When not in Manila, I’ve almost had to venture as far as San Fransisco to grab myself a pair.

Not anymore, this past month, the folks at PEDDER and Lane Crawford have begun selling what seems like the full collection online.

Before the launch, I was delivered a book written by Blake, titled, Start Something That Matters (2011), summarizing the whole start up story of the TOMS brand in the first chapter, and spends the next 7 chapters bullet pointing key concepts for would-be entrepreneurs who want to do something beneficial for society via their business.

In a nutshell Blake keeps it simple by summarizing the TOMS idea (fifth startup business for him), and then telling readers to find their story, face their fears, how to be resourceful, keeping ideas simple, building trust, and learning how to “give” as a general rule. 

The book is very interesting, straightforward, and an honest to-the-point account of how the TOMS “empire” came about. In a nutshell, TOMS is the first business model of its kind… you buy a pair, they give a pair to kids in need of shoes. Yes, TOMS are modeled after the alpargata, but was completely redesigned by Blake in Argentina for Western needs and urban lifestyles, taking into account comfort, style, and long lasting durability. No, TOMS is not the name of the owner, it stands for “Tomorrow’s Shoes”. And yes, they’ve kept their word, and to this day still distribute shoes globally and one to one via Giving Partners

Interestingly enough for the social entrepreneurs out there, TOMS was Blake’s fifth business venture… I guess there are just people out there who aren’t born to be paper pushers.  Basically according to the book, with the right determination, right simple idea, right story, right product, and right social cause… you’ve got something that people would really like to invest in. In this day and age with so many products bombarding for our attention, a product with a social benefit attached to it will most likely be a brand’s point of difference.

Below, TOMS owned by Danielle of WHITESPACE HK (left), Denise of SUPERWOWOMG (top), LC Blitz’s Marika (right), and my own.

Anyway enough text. Lets look at products and pretty pictures of TOMS pairs on display. #iWant all of them.

Blake came to inaugurate the full collection in Hong Kong at Lane Crawford IFC.

In attendance were Danielle and CLOT’s Kevin Poon.

Blake with artist Charles Munka who designed a shoe for auction.

Blake with artists PRODIP and Jin Meyerson, both also created a special TOMS shoe for Auction.

Shoes by ANOTHERMOUNTAINMAN.

And James Jean, who is in town this week to promote a new line of accessories for Line Crawford BLITZ.

My friends, Mimi and Martin, who are establishing a Fashion / Social Entrepreneurship Business in Hong Kong, in part because they read Blake’s book and were inspired.

Hong Kong Island Magazine’s Coco and Hajime, TOMS head of International Sales and a “Dude-Guy-Brah” according to his business card.

Blake with Christing C.

Blake with Auntie Susan of XPOSURE

The usual suspects with Vogue China’s Grace

Just met the lovely Luisa Fietta, GM at Pedder Red. (This pic styled by Grace hehe)

Dude fight. Jason Capobianco versus Blake.

Hello. The conversation was all about Texas, where we both grew up.

Thanks for the book!

AND the autograph.

In the end of the day it’s a business model which benefits both consumers and non consumers equally. Name me any other fashion brand who works on a one-for-one business model. And they look great… with almost everything. (Well in my opinion.)

Anyway, my work life is less stressful when I wear these that’s for sure. (Well NOT the strawberry one below…. but you get what I mean.)

WEAR TOMS Hong Kong / READ Start Something That Matters / CHARITY TOMS One for One 

JJ.

Hot Balmy Nights Call For Cool Vodka Inventions

I know the word “speakeasy” is easily spoken to describe any out-of-the-way bar destinations in this day and age, but the new tucked away bar with a fantastic outdoor deck, Wyndham on the 4th, is just a perfect example of the secret “speakeasy” trend.

To their credit, Wyndham on the 4th and its star mixologist, Tom Wood, never described the bar as such, but to a growing number of Hong Konger’s repelled by super-clubs with questionable clientele, anything “speakeasy” is actually a breath of fresh air.

ChristingC, her partner Dan, and I were recently invited by the 24hour concierge group, Quintessentially, for happy hour cocktails care of CIROC Vodka at Wyndham on the 4th and I was just impressed. The interiors were modern yet whimsical, there was space, it was clean, and most of all, the drinks that night were perfect concoctions. We all had three kinds of refreshing CIROC Vodka cocktails perfect for drinking under the starts on a warm balmy Hong Kong evening.

We all learned plenty about the history of vodka  and all its incarnations. The CIROC Brand is the first premium vodka from France to be created with wine production methods and five times distilled for that crisp fresh flavour and amazing aroma… I know… I whiffed plenty of it in the first go. 

Overall I was impressed. CIROC is also good to drink straight up or on the rocks, but I prefer it with a bit of tonic and and lime.

I’ll definitely come back to Wyndham on the 4th. It’s really a perfect getaway, and in addition, the branding and aesthetics, quite well done, was produced by Danielle Huthart at WHITESPACE Design. I had no idea until she told me on Instagram that was one of her projects. It’s great work.

Im now itching for some CIROC under the stars and on those big back-lit potted plant bar tables. The weather is starting to agree with me…

PARTY Wyndham on the 4th / DRINK CIROC Vodka 

JJ.

Seen&Scene: Thomas Heatherwick’s Beauty Gallery… Designed for The Future, Inspired by Victorian Roots. August 2012

Let me put it bluntly, the reason why I went to the recent MAC StyleSeekers Party and the Pacific Place Beauty Gallery launch is really to hang out with my Brew&Post friends who were going already.

The Beauty Gallery at Pacific Place, designed by the UK’s Thomas Heatherwick

That said, demographically, the majority of my readers ARE female so, covering the recent trends in Beauty is not THAT much of a far cry from we at theWanderlister+ usually blog about.

What the MAC Party, Beauty Gallery Launch, and even the recent opening of HYSAN Place have in common is that the focus is on selling Cosmetics to the Hong Kong market. Pacific Place turned the what used to be the Lane Crawford into a new destination boutique atrium just for cosmetics, and Hysan Place has a floor just for cosmetics dubbed, “The Garden of Eden”.  According to China Daily, across the board retail and tourism in Hong Kong has slumped, mostly affecting the Jewelry market sector, which will not see a healthy third quarter at all this year compared to previous years. That said, Cosmetics and F+B remain strong markets underpinning a still solid retail sector.

And it seems from these recent launches and pushes by international cosmetic brands, the sky is the limit for Hong Kong’s Beauti-Full industry.

Tai-Tai’s go Wild at the La Mer Flagship.

La Mer’s VIP Lounge equates to $$$$.

I thought the party was going to be a drag. But quite the opposite actually… the designer in me was mostly impressed by the interiors by Heatherwick, who pretty much is the main aesthete for most to all of Pacific Place’s new “boutique-mall” concept of the future.

The sensuous curves, the lighting, the signage… all very welcoming… elite… and most importantly, accessible despite that it aims to cater to the higher end consumer. Rocheret Bayadaire stone floore from France are trimmed for the curved skirtings. Low-iron, curved glass shopfronts define the very fluid shopping corridor. 

For those who travel, if it all seems familiar, its because the height of the shops and the proportions are based on the classic 19th century Victorian arcade… namely its Heatherwick’s take on the Burlington Arcade… but for the 21st Century.

Expect to shop at brands such as, Chanel, Giorgio Armani, Joyce Beauty, La Mer, La Prairie, Nars, Natura Bisse, Shu Uemura, and Yves Saint Laurent… no SASA here yo!

We had a great time. My eyes went googly when I was introduced to Canto-pop star Kelly Chen who officiated the event with a Ribbon Cutting. 

We also bumped into fellow style blogger, Amanda Lee of Fashionography-X and our mutual hairstylist, MAREK, who did both our hair that week.

SPOTTED: Janice Jann, of Time Out HK.

The Huthart Sisters. Danielle’s lashes by Shu Uemura.

Socialite and HK’s Fashion Stylist, Tina Leung of TINALOVES.

Fashion Stylist/Blogger, Jasmine Webster, founder of HKFashionBloggers.

What is this guy’s name? I need him to do my iPad sketch portrait but I dont want to wait in line.

So that’s that.

Pacific Place The Beauty Gallery / 88 Queensway, Admiralty, Hong Kong / Pacific Place ONLINE 

JJ.

And the Limited Edition Creative City Map Goes To…

Late last month Creative City Map Guide partners Danielle Huthart and Louise Wong and theWanderlister+ Asia team, Cheryl Rodriguez and myself got together at MANA! for a bit of brain storm about the current state of the creative scene in Hong Kong in general as well as having a quick chat about the new map. You can view this blog post here.

That said, we were really curious if other people felt that Hong Kong was as “Creative” a city as we thought it was. So we thought it would be a good idea to ask right out if you agreed that Hong Kong was a Creative City, why that was. For your two cents you get a chance to win a limited edition map by four of Hong Kong’s most sought after illustrators. We got a handful of responses in return, and from those, each of us were able to pick our favorite answers. Here they are:

+ Janice Leung / selected by Louise Wong

Hong Kong is a Creative City because we’re free to imagine, and free to make it happen. Want to dress up like a huge tube of toothpaste and march the streets on July 1? You can. Want to write on concrete walls all over the city about why you’re the king the Kowloon, in your own unique font? You can. Well, you’d be scrubbed clean first, but eventually you’ll be recognised as culture/heritage/art worthy of preservation. Everything takes time, right? As long as we’re allowed to imagine, creative things will happen.

+ Season Chan / selected by Danielle Huthart

Hong Kong is a Creative City because even I’ve been living here for over a decade I am still exploring and experiencing something new on a weekly basis. Hong Kong never ceases to surprise me. Hong Kong Kong is like a big salad bow!

+ Zoe Li / selected by Cheryl Rodriguez

Hong Kong is a Creative City because we have Creative City! And plastic bag rain hats! And satay beef stuffed inside French toast! I mean, we mix tea and coffee and drink it TOGETHER *mind blown apart*.

+ Harsha Harjani / selected by JJ. Acuna

Hong Kong is a creative city because at its very essence, the city was ‘created’ out of pretty much nothing in the span of a 100 something years. It’s creative, because every day, HK takes its destiny in its hands, and creates moments, products, buildings, systems, ideas, and new ways of being. Eternally refreshing itself, HK is creative, because it’s free.

Congratulations to our four winners! Each of them wins a new Limited Edition Creative City Map Guide. Winners please pick up your free copy at the Whitespace studios in Sheung Wan. For all other entries thank you so much for giving us your feedback! Hong Kong needs you!

Thank you Kacey Wong for your iconic pink tank as well. As seen on the streets of Hong Kong on July 1st 2012 in response to CY Leung’s new proposed “Cultural Bureau” Government Department. And THIS… is why Hong Kong is a Creative City. (via CREATIVE CITY FB)

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

JJ.

Give Us Your Thoughts, Win A Limited Edition Creative City Map! Contest Ends Soon!

And all you have to do is give us your two cents on the Creative City Facebook Page referring to the phrase below:

Hong Kong is a Creative City. If you agree, tell us why.

The four winners will each receive 1 of these 4 beautiful limited edition Creative City Maps by Hong Kong’s coolest illustrators today.

+ Emily Eldridge (via EmilyEldridge Blogspot)

Emily, is an American illustrator, muralist, and fine artist based in Hong Kong since 2005. Favored mediums include: ink, acrylic, house paint, watercolor, cardboard boxes and salvaged junk. (Text by Emily Eldridge)

+ Graphic Airlines - Map on the Left (via GraphicAirlines Online)

Established in 2002, Graphic Airlines (GAL) is a creative team of 2 people, TAT & Vi. Their aim is to ENJOY THE VOYAGE! Doing creative work freely, enjoying the voyages of life and creation, flying to different realms of creativity are what they hope for.The characters created by design duo Graphic Airlines champion the “aesthetics of ugly”. They aim to become stalwarts of Hong Kong’s burgeoning street art scence. Apart from publishing and exhibiting work since 2006. (Text by GAL)

+ Emilie Sarnel (via EmilieinLove Online)

Emilie’s work is focused on art direction, graphic design, illustration, and most importantly, story-telling. She’s recently moved to Hong-Kong via Tokyo, and has since launched successful shows of illustrations about life in Hong Kong. The works have since been sold via posters and postcards all over the city. Check out her website for her latest projects.

+ Don Mak (via MikeSavela Tumblr)

Don Mak is an illustrator born and bought up in Hong Kong. The passion and artistry bloomed early. At 16, he left school and joined the local comic talents. He later continued his studies in arts and design, ever enriching the wealth of knowledge and skills gained in the working years. In 2009, he graduated with a BA (Hons) in Design – Visual Communication from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Don has been a member of the Hong Kong Society of Illustrators since 2004. Since graduation, he has been illustrating freelance for magazines, publishers and advertising agencies. His first children picture book is in creation. (Text by Don Mak)

And of course you can also get the original Map by designed by Whitespace!

Good luck!

Check out my interview with the Creative City Team here.

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

JJ.

Mana, Moustache, Maps, + More. We Explore Hong Kong via Creative City’s Danielle Huthart and Louise Wong

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

Green Bottles…

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?

Knick Knacks.

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!

WANDER WONDER!!!!

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 / info@whitespace.hk / 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

JJ.