Ivan Pun

Founder of life­style com­pany Pun + Projects

Prestige Hong Kong - 40 under 40 - - Contents -

Keep­ing up with Ivan Pun is a project in it­self as the busi­ness­man — who di­vides his time be­tween Myan­mar, Hong Kong and the rest of the world — has so many projects in the pipe­line, un­der con­struc­tion or suc­cess­fully run­ning, in­clud­ing, for ex­am­ple, the fur­ni­ture brand Parib­awga (part of his Pun + Projects port­fo­lio) and the TS 1 pop-up in down­town Yan­gon he founded to sup­port lo­cal artists. Mean­while, in Hong Kong there’s Hawkr, a ven­ture in Quarry Bay (along­side chef Mina Park and pri­vate-eq­uity prin­ci­pal and restau­ra­teur Jake As­tor), bring­ing South­east Asian fare to the is­land … and there’s more.

“There are two new restau­rants in Yan­gon that will open in the first quar­ter of 2019,” Pun says. “I’m also work­ing on a restau­rant project in Hong Kong that’s in the pipe­line — well, all three food projects are go­ing to be great and will open one af­ter the other in early 2019. I’m al­ways ex­cited about food.”

Then there’s the art. “Yes, the Wong Chuk Hang space that I share with Mcna­mara Art Projects is cur­rently be­ing used to use host art pop-up shows with other de­sign com­pa­nies from around the world,” he says. “In June, we did a pop-up with Ulysses de Santi [Brazil­ian fur­ni­ture from the 1950s and ’60s] and we did an­other with The Artling on Asian col­lectible de­sign in Oc­to­ber. With TS1, the arts ini­tia­tive in Yan­gon for which we only did pop-ups be­fore, we fi­nally have a home for it. A new per­ma­nent space in down­town Yan­gon opens in March 2019.”

Phew. All that and not a mo­ment to spare — he’s just landed in Hong Kong af­ter the fi­nal pa­per­work on the afore­men­tioned de­vel­op­ment. “It’s al­ways won­der­ful to be in Hong Kong and do projects here as it’s so much eas­ier done. It’s home, so it’s ob­vi­ously smoother sail­ing, and a com­pletely dif­fer­ent set of chal­lenges, while noth­ing is easy in Yan­gon — I can safely say that.”

Many busi­nesses in Yan­gon, the largest city in Myan­mar, took a hit this year with the in­escapably bad press sur­round­ing the Ro­hingya cri­sis. As the tourism in­dus­try saw a mas­sive plunge in ar­rivals, Pun pon­ders care­fully be­fore speak­ing about the grow­ing ten­sions that are still sim­mer­ing in the mili­tia-ruled re­gion, “Look, I’m apo­lit­i­cal, my mer­chant fam­ily has noth­ing to do with the pol­i­tics, and gov­ern­ment and pri­vate en­ter­prise are sep­a­rate, but we do em­ploy hun­dreds of peo­ple in var­i­ous en­ter­prises in the city and they’ve all been af­fected. The bad press has made ev­ery­thing dif­fi­cult — we’re go­ing to have to take a hit, which was in­evitable, but there will be light at the end of the tun­nel,” he says. “I’m so hope­ful for a res­o­lu­tion and that things will go back to nor­mal. It has been pro­jected that Asian tourists will come to Myan­mar more and help kick-start the econ­omy again.”

To yank him back to Hong Kong on a lighter note, we men­tion he’s been on our an­nual 40 Un­der 40 list since its in­cep­tion. “I’m hon­oured and grate­ful to be in­cluded by Pres­tige be­cause I feel our gen­er­a­tion has re­ally come to­gether to do some­thing in­ter­est­ing to con­trib­ute to the city. There’s a great dy­namic en­ergy and we want to add and build fur­ther than the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion.”

For those who only see Pun and as­so­ciates on the event and gala cir­cuit, he’s aware of ap­pear­ances, but his life isn’t an end­less reel of tuxedo-clad sit­down din­ners. “The di­vi­sion be­tween work and play is more blurred for some peo­ple, more sep­a­rate for oth­ers,” he says. “There’s no for­mula. I’m not the least bit both­ered by what peo­ple think — every­one has a dif­fer­ent ap­proach. Ul­ti­mately, it doesn’t re­ally mat­ter as long as the end re­sult, our work, our con­tri­bu­tion to so­ci­ety, is a pos­i­tive one.”

“I feel our gen­er­a­tion has re­ally come to­gether to do some­thing in­ter­est­ing to con­trib­ute to the city. There’s a great dy­namic en­ergy and we want to add and build fur­ther than the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion”

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