Hailed as ‘a pioneer of creativity in Hong Kong’ by Lane Crawford, Danielle Huthart is the founder and creative director of Whitespace, a local design-led strategic brand consultancy and co-creator of Creative City, Hong Kong's first design and culture focused map released in 2010.
We spoke to Huthart ahead of the launch of Creative City's second edition about Hong Kong's creative index, the lack of third places and why she can't stand the city's public street furniture.
LifestyleAsia: What exactly does it mean to be a "creative"?
Danielle Huthart: I think it's definitely a luxury to be a creative person. When I say that, creativity is often associated with having the freedom to do artistic pursuits, explore different things, and to create, envision and actualise ideas. My view is very much that we're all creative people, because ultimately in the bigger picture everyone is generally creative and we all have that capacity to actualise ideas, just in different forms.
LSA: Who is the Creative City map tailored for -- just creatives?
DH: The map started out with a specific person in mind because it evolved from a real life situation where I met someone in the creative industry who had come to Hong Kong several times, but didn't have a lot of time or resources to find out what was creatively happening. Today, the map is for more than that particular person, including tourists who want to find out more about Hong Kong in a different way and even residents who want to discover something new about their own city.
The map is divided into two sections -- tangible (stores, things to go and see, heritage sights, architecture, retail stores with interesting interiors, etc.) and the intangible (all the things that have happened throughout time, that Hong Kong has been the backdrop for, including movies, creative people who have lived or worked here, etc.)
LSA: Compared to other cities in the world, how creative is Hong Kong?
DH: Hong Kong is actually very, very creative, and it was actually through the process of doing the first edition of the map that we discovered that there's a lot of content to work with. Let's just say I wouldn't have started this map if I didn't think Hong Kong was a creative city -- otherwise I would have set myself up for a massive fail! (laughing)
We really wanted to challenge the notion that Hong Kong isn't creative. People have the impression that it's all about business, finance, manufacturing, etc. and it's hard for people to make that shift unless they actually experience it.
LSA: Can you tell us a little about the new Creative City map for 2012?
DH: The first year, we surveyed about 100 people in the creative industry to answer about 10 questions, and we got the six districts based on their feedback. This year, we've found district curators, who are people with a very strong sense of community and connection to their own neighbourhood. For example, we've got Jing Wong from Daydream Nation as the district curator for Wanchai, as well as Michael and Martin from Shanghai Street Studios to do Yau Ma Tei and Sham Shui Po.
The concept is the same, but the format is evolving. And the cool thing is I'm still discovering things from the neighbourhoods that they're in as well. Coffee also has a special part in the new Creative City map but I don't want to reveal too much.
LSA: What are the top three creative events in Hong Kong that a creative can't miss?
DH: DETOUR is definitely one of them, which is getting better and better each year. We first got involved in 2008 and it's really grown and started to pick up momentum. Clockenflap is also really important on a musical level, especially because Hong Kong has had so many issues with noise restrictions. Every single city in the world has a really good outdoor music festival, so Hong Kong has tried to fill that gap with this. The Hong Kong International Film Festival is also really worth checking out, but it's impossible to get tickets!
Find out what Huthart's biggest gripe about Hong Kong is on the next page.