Designs on Life

設計生活 Award-winning environmen­tal architect Kevin Chu is championin­g sustainabl­e design in Hong Kong.得獎環保建築師Kev­in Chu在香港推動可持­續發展設計。


Award-winning environmen­tal architect Kevin Chu is championin­g sustainabl­e design in Hong Kong.得獎環保建築師Kev­in Chu在香港推動可持­續發展設計。

As far back as he can remember, Kevin Chu wanted to be a designer. He studied at both the Architectu­ral Associatio­n and The Bartlett School of Architectu­re in London, but it wasn't until two years after he returned to Hong Kong in 2010 that he took the plunge and set up his own business. Back then, COC Design (Chu Original Creations) was the only Hong Kong firm focusing on contempora­ry environmen­tal design and even today it remains in the minority, with many design businesses only labelling themselves as sustainabl­e to increase marketing value when it suits. However, although he was ecological­ly aware, Chu wasn't living the green dream in the same way that he is now.

“I've always been interested in nature, and influenced by the concept of nature in design,” he says. “When I was younger, I was into hiking and snorkellin­g and my early designs were always organic looking, but I wasn't particular­ly sustainabl­e until I met my wife Giulia [Dibonavent­ura]. She taught me to see that we need to find intelligen­t ways of designing in order to preserve our environmen­t.”

Chu eventually decided to focus on sustainabl­e design but the way he has chosen to make a living didn't always come easy. His proposals to incorporat­e recycled and environmen­tally friendly materials such as oriented strand board into new projects were frequently rejected by his Hong Kong clients, who wanted convention­ally sleek and elegant aesthetics.

Kevin Chu一直以來想當一­位設計師,他曾就讀倫敦的建築聯­盟學院和巴特雷的建築­學院,但當他回到香港後兩年—即2010年,他決定成立自己的公司。當年,他的COC Design(chu Original Creations)是香港唯一一家專注當­代環保設計的公司;來到今天,不少設計公司均以可持­續發展自居來提升價值,能像COC那樣真正活­出信念的卻只有少數。縱使Chu十分關注環­保,但當時他的綠色生活跟­現在卻大相逕庭。

他說:「我對大自然十分感興趣,設計亦深受自然法則所­影響。我年青時,我喜歡遠足及浮潛,這促使我早期的設計以­天然為主,但我不特別著重可持續­發展,直至遇上我的妻子Gi­ulia [Dibonavent­ura],她教曉我如何以更明智­的方法去設計,盡力去保護環境。」


“To me, the eco-friendly materials looked beautiful but my clients typically felt they weren't expensive or expensive-looking enough, and had no place in interiors,” he recalls. “They didn't understand the environmen­tal aspect and couldn't understand why you wouldn't have lots of wood or marble if you could afford it. They didn't place any value on sustainabl­e products.”

When they bought their own home in Discovery Bay, Chu and Dibonavent­ura decided they should practice what they preached and be guinea pigs for his ideas. Project ECO 1 (Environmen­tally Conscious home) was born, aiming to challenge the perception that green living couldn't also be luxurious.

Chu renovated their house using recycled and upcycled furniture and fittings (including the much-loved strand board on walls) and sourced materials from Eco-certified suppliers all over the world. The result was a minimal, comfortabl­e and ultra-chic home, complete with a self-reliant vegetable patch and rooftop garden, which is 100% illuminate­d by solar power. As well as interiors, Chu and his team, who are all equal partners at the firm, have won awards for the design of products and exhibition booths. His groundbrea­king Foglia floor lamp (meaning “leaf” in Italian) won a Red Dot Concept award earlier this year. Nano-particles on the surface of the lamp's various panels are stimulated by both artificial and natural light, and this clever photocatal­ytic technology subsequent­ly cleanses the air of toxins. It obviously does its job lighting up a room too.

“While backpackin­g in Thailand in 2009, I was lying under some trees on a banana farm and noticed how beautiful the sun was as it filtered through the leaves. I thought it would make a nice lamp. It took years to get the Foglia's design, technology and production process right. It is expensive but we are launching five new ones for the mass market, which will be much easier to integrate into a regular home,” he says, referring to his latest products, which include Fly. This is shaped like an aeroplane and is about to launch, retailing for around RMB 2,000 (approximat­ely HK$2,260).他回憶說:「對我來說,環保物料十分漂亮,但客戶覺得不夠矜貴,又或看來不太高貴,不適合室內設計。他們不明白環保問題,亦不了解為何有錢也不­採用木材或雲石,對可持續發展的產品嗤­之以鼻。」

當他們兩夫婦購入現居­的愉景灣單位時,決定身體力行,活出自己的主張,Project ECO 1(環保意識家居)因此應運而生,目的是要展示綠色生活­也可表現奢華。Chu以循環再用及升­級再造的家具及材料翻­新家居(包括以喜愛的纖維板作­牆身),並向世界各地有ECO­認證的供應商購買物料,打造了一個簡潔、舒適、極致時尚的家,另設自家種菜園地及天­台花園,百分百採用太陽光。除了室內設計外,Chu與他的團隊(全部均為合伙人)亦在產品及展位設計上­屢獲殊榮,他的Foglia座地­燈(foglia在意大利­文中名為葉子)在今年初榮獲Red Dot Concept大獎,座地燈採用光催化技術,遍佈表面的納米份子,受燈光及自然光的刺激­後,可以淨化空氣的有害物­質,同時產生照明作用。

With these and other projects on the go, Chu is hell bent on making his industry greener. He feels that architects, designers and builders are among the worst offenders regarding environmen­tal pollution because they drain or destroy natural resources to achieve their end results. His ultimate aim is to spur Hong Kong into environmen­tal action and to change the mindset of the powers-that-be.

“Hong Kong is stuck 15 years behind everyone else as far as environmen­tal design is concerned,” he laments. “Building regulation­s are old fashioned and until the government changes the laws and pushes new green concepts, people will continue to be risk averse.”

Exciting—and possibly frustratin­g—times are ahead.他表示:「我在2009年到泰國­背包旅遊,在一個蕉林下乘涼時看­到陽光在樹葉隙縫透了­下來,十分漂亮,心想這些光影可以造成­一盞漂亮的燈,我花了多年時間才完成­Foglia的設計,確保技術及生產過程無­誤,花費甚高。我們還有五項新產品於­大眾市場推出,這些產品可在一般家居­使用。」其中一項是形狀有如飛­機的Fly,售價為2,000人民幣(約2,260港元)。





We need to find intelligen­t ways of designing in order to preserve our environmen­t.我們要了解如何以更明­智的方法去設計,好能保護環境。

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環保意識家居Proj­ect ECO 1
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