As OUT OF STOCK enters its 12th year, co-founder Ian Louie looks back at his love affair with Nordic design.

As OUT OF STOCK enters its 12th year, co-founder Ian Louie looks back at his love affair with Nordic design.


In the past decade, Nordic design has taken Hong Kong by storm with its philosophy of creating happiness by making all things simple and streamline­d. However, in a hectic and expensive city like Hong Kong, pursuing a life of simple pleasures is easier said than done, as we are increasing­ly drifting away from the people around us and treating our homes as nothing more than a commodity or investment. Since its establishm­ent in 2007, OUT OF STOCK has become a leading force of modern Nordic furniture design. Guided by its motto, “Good to be home”, the company aspires to help users strengthen family bonds by reexaminin­g the concept of “home” with awareness and practicali­ty.

Co-founder Ian Louie has always had a passion for interior design since childhood; growing up his understand­ing and supportive parents gave him free reign to change up the furniture layout from time to time, keeping their home fresh and interestin­g. Louie was also an early adopter of upcycling and once transforme­d a broken bicycle into an original piece and sold it to a classmate. When it came to applying for colleges, he followed a school counselor's recommenda­tion and picked architectu­re as his major, this served as the beginning of his love affair with design. Upon graduating and spending 10 years in the UK, Louie returned to Hong Kong without a moment of hesitation, convinced that he needed to bring his knowledge and skills back to his home city where he completed his master's in architectu­re. He started to dig deeper into architectu­ral philosophi­es and techniques and found his own work style. At the age of 39, Louie met engineer Eric when working on the constructi­on of Hong Kong Internatio­nal Airport's Terminal 2. Eric was younger and had plans to start his own business, and Louie—impressed by his intelligen­ce and determinat­ion—decided to help him out. Two more partners came on board and the four of them opened a small shop in Tsim Sha Tsui, selling furniture and homeware.

Home is where the heart is, and for Louie, OUT OF STOCK has become his home.

That humble boutique has now evolved into OUT OF STOCK. Louie admits that the company's big breakthrou­gh came after a period of serious hardship. Back in 2009, the shop was struggling badly, forcing him and his partners to rethink the future; not ready to throw in the towel, they set up a showroom in an industrial building in Fo Tan where they showcased products from Nordic and Japanese furniture brands, and began designing their own furniture and participat­ing in convention­s and exhibition­s overseas to gain more exposure. Having visited Scandinavi­a, Louie believes that in order to understand the essence of Nordic design, one has to know that after WWII, a group of Danish designers began focusing on making durable and highly-functional furniture using clean lines and a streamline­d aesthetic as a way to rebuild the nation and help its people move on from the pain and sorrows of the war. He noticed that Scandinavi­ans put a lot of time and effort into creating a cosy and beautiful home of their dreams, so family members loved to stay home and interact with one another—yet it was a completely different world in Hong Kong. Louie believes that a home is much more than its physical space so he focuses on the visual design, texture and even scent of the materials with his creations. In the past 12 years, Louie has gained plenty of experience and accolades, but profession­al success comes with a price—his total commitment to the brand has cost him a lot of quality time with family and at one point gave him anxiety issues. Moving on from those days, he has now learned to lead a better, more balanced life. Home is where the heart is, and for Louie, OUT OF STOCK has become his home.

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