You might not know it, but if you've ever stepped foot in Mist Pizzeria, G.O.D. or the flashy 1010 flagship store in Central, you've already experienced one of Clifton Leung's many designs.
As one of Hong Kong's foremost interior designers, Leung runs his own practice, Clifton Leung Design Workshop, and has created over 100 of the most prestigious home interiors in town including Beverly Villas, Red Hill Peninsula, Dynasty Court and The Arch.
At his colourful Wellington Street office, Leung tells us about his Canadian upbringing, the biggest mistake people make in interior design and what he loves to design most.
LifestyleAsia: How has being educated in Canada affected your designs?
Clifton Leung: Going to high school and university in Canada gave me a creative edge that I don't think Hong Kong would have. Over there, it's more relaxed, there's a lot more space, and therefore more room to think for yourself. It's given me more creativity to put into my designs.
LSA: What is the biggest mistake people make in interior design?
CL: I would say it's copying what they see out of magazines. When I design for someone, I make sure I talk to them to understand their needs, their personality, and their lifestyle. If people just copy what they see in magazines, with each room in a different style, nothing will match and they'll also inevitably copy other people's mistakes too.
LSA: What's the craziest project you've done for someone in Hong Kong?
CL: Normally, we don't try to do anything too extravagant, because people generally want to feel cozy and comfortable in their own homes. I'm not designing a hotel room, or a show flat, so the design is usually quite soothing and harmonious.
But I did have one client who was really into audio-visual systems, so we helped him out with that. That was probably one of the most striking designs we've worked on.
LSA: What's the hardest part about designing interiors in Hong Kong?
CL: Definitely space planning. Hong Kong is a place where everything is small, so planning the layout can become a huge challenge. That's where our motto, "minimalism to maximisation" comes in, to make the most out of the spaces we have.
LSA: How often should a space be redesigned?
CL: Every eight or nine years. I like to create timeless designs that can stand the test of time. Of course, after my work is done, it's up to the client to do what they want with it. But it's quite usual to want a change after that amount of time.
LSA: Besides residential projects, you also design for businesses such as Calvin Klein and one2free. With Hong Kong's rapid turnover of shops, how do you feel when your work is torn down?
CL: I hate it! Sometimes, I wonder if it's because of me, but then, I think about all the other factors, like the location of the shop, the marketing, etc. and then I don't feel so bad afterwards.
LSA: What is your absolute favourite thing to design?
CL: I love kitchens. The cool thing is, many people are switching to open or half-open kitchens nowadays as no one wants to be stuck inside of a small room. They want to entertain guests, and be out in the open. It's one of the biggest trends in Hong Kong interiors now.