WHEN A HUSBAND-AND-WIFE TEAM TOOK ON THE TASK OF DESIGNING THE NEW TATLER TROPHY, THEY WERE INSPIRED BY THE VALUES OF THE RECIPIENTS. Leanne Mirandilla REPORTS
The inspiration for the new Tatler Trophy’s design was the nature of its recipients
It was a tall order: design a trophy that honours its recipient yet retains a sense of humility; a trophy that, although bestowed on an individual, acknowledges the support of the wider community in that person’s achievement; and a trophy of such beautiful design that it can be proudly displayed in the homes or offices of some of the most influential figures across Asia. These were the issues facing Taiwanese design firm Xrange when it was invited to create the new Tatler Trophy.
“In designing the trophy, we really wanted to approach it from a structural point of view,” explains architect Grace Cheung, who founded Xrange with her husband, industrial designer Royce Hong. “Instead of superficially grafting meaning onto an unrelated shape, we really studied the structural meaning of the trophy. How it is put together should be significant and meaningful to the values of the winner, and should reflect their journeys as leaders and achievers.” The beautiful result of their efforts is a puzzle-like design comprising two interlocking pieces—a design that required computer modelling, 3D-printed prototypes and countless different test versions before it reached perfection.
Xrange was invited to design the new trophy only after a rigorous selection process involving all eight Asia Tatler editions, with editors nominating talented designers from around the world. Serendipitously, Xrange turned out to be close to the Tatler family, as Cheung has been a friend of group editor-inchief Sean Fitzpatrick for more than 20 years. “When Taiwan Tatler suggested them, and we all agreed that they would be the people who would do a great job, I was more than happy to work with them,” says Fitzpatrick.
“When Tatler approached us about the trophy project,” adds Cheung, “I was very excited to revisit trophy design, and to see where we’ve come in terms of ideas and our design approach after 10 years. It was a very easy yes.”
The designing of another prestigious trophy some years earlier was the catalyst that brought Cheung and Hong to work together for the first time. “A few months before our wedding 10 years ago, we got invited to participate in the Shaw Prize Trophy International Design Competition,” says Cheung. “We had never really considered
working together before. To our great delight, we discovered that we worked together without much argument, and actually won the competition.”
Their winning entry—which became the trophy for the Shaw Prize awarded in three categories: Astronomy, Life Science and Medicine, and Mathematical Sciences— displays the same in-depth thought process apparent in the Tatler Trophy. Using the idea of scientific discovery as a starting point, Cheung and Hong created the three trophies using wood, aluminium and black marble—three common materials that symbolise science’s application in daily life and the three fields of the award. A fisheye lens at one end and an eyepiece at the other represent scientists’ vision in leading the world into the future.
The couple soon consolidated their successful working relationship with the founding of Xrange and have since worked on a variety of projects, from interiors for quirky lifestyle boutiques and hotels to furniture and electronics. Their different professional backgrounds, architecture and industrial design, enable them to work on a diverse portfolio. And like the trophies, all Xrange projects bear the hallmarks of the couple’s design skill—a strong concept and modern, stylish geometry.
“In terms of design, we create side by side as we trust each other’s professionalism absolutely,” says Cheung. “We approach ideas from different scales of experience. Both are crucial to our creative work. What our training has in common is critical thinking, project management, shared strategic values, idea communication and teamwork, which are all key factors in design work, so running a business together is quite an easy fit.”
Xrange is currently working on several projects that combine both old and new, including a modern sound system that uses analogue technology from 30 years ago. Hong is also designing an electric-powered prototype racer for Formula E, Formula One’s newest movement featuring electric cars, whose inaugural 10-city season kicked off in Beijing in September and continues this month in Putrajaya, Malaysia.
and the winner is… The Tatler Trophy in all its glory at the Hong Kong Tatler Ball
team effort Clockwise from left: Royce Hong and Grace Cheung; the Tatler Trophies; the couple’s winning entry for the Shaw Prize