In just over two week’s time, the who’s who of the Asian design community will descend on Hong Kong for Asia’s premier boutique design event. Yes that’s right, the International Design Furniture Fair returns to Hong Kong, bringing with it a host of dynamic presentations and thought-provoking talks galore.
On the eve of the event, we caught up with Founder and Fair Director, Winnie Yue, who revealed all about being a female architect, the challenges of setting up an international design fair, and her hopes for the future of IDFFHK.
Can you tell us a bit about your design background?
I studied Architecture in the US and worked there for a while after graduation. I then came back to work in Hong Kong where my projects ranged from designing buildings to project administration.
When I practiced in firms I did more architecture, but when I moved into private practice I did more interior design. I prefer architecture more – interior design is very personal and more tedious for me. With architecture on the other hand, you get the opportunity to look at the bigger picture.
Architecture is traditionally a male-dominated industry. How were you able to find success as a female architect?
It was and still is quite challenging for females to be in this field. I guess one has to be very strong in character. You have to understand what your power is and the authority you have over your team; you have to have the confidence to express what your ideas are, and you have to be very persistent.
How did the idea for the International Design Furniture Fair come about?
A few years ago when Art Basel first came to Hong Kong I was very impressed with how well received it was. It made me realize that the Asian market is actually open to more cultural stuff. This got me thinking that it’s about time we should be bringing in more lifestyle brands to Hong Kong, further to art. I really do think people want to know more about lifestyle products. At the same time, not too many people in Hong Kong have the time or the budget to fly over to Europe to visit the big fairs – it’s very time consuming, very expensive, and very exhausting. Essentially, I thought that if I would like to attend a furniture fair then I’m sure other people would too.
What was the initial reaction when you first started telling people about the idea?
Many people were positive about it. They also said it would be very challenging! I often got people telling me that I’m very brave. In a way, it just got stuck in my mind that it’s a good idea, and then I just took each challenge one at a time. I think it cannot be that tough. I have done buildings before, so it’s just another process.
What were the key challenges in setting up IDFFHK?
Pitching the exhibitors, designers and architects was the most challenging part of the process; trying to make people understand IDFFHK from a business point of view, because at the end of the day they have to meet their numbers as well.
How did you feel after successfully pulling it off?
I’m happy that it went well but at the same time, I can see I can do better. There is still a lot of room to explore and expand. I still have a lot to do and a lot to learn.
IDFFHK is back for the second time this year, have you made any major changes this time around?
Yes. This year I have injected three different elements: the signature speakers forum, a gallery showcase and five design exhibitions. The speakers forum is much bigger than last time; this year, we have about twenty speakers covering topics ranging from museums to architects, furniture design to robotics.
What are you most looking forward to seeing the most at this year’s fair?
All of the presentations are very different. For the gallery showcase, I understand one of the exhibitors, Baccarat, is going to ship in a full height crystal art piece for the show, so I’m really looking forward to that.
What do you hope visitors will gain from the fair?
I want people to come out from the show feeling like they have a better understanding of design appreciation. I want them to be able to see a design piece or even an every day object, and really appreciate how it came about. There has been time and effort put into creating everything around us – things don’t just happen. I hope they will appreciate beauty more.
How do you hope IDFFHK will evolve in the future?
I hope it will get bigger. I hope I will get to share more of what is out there from Europe, from Asia, from the US.
Many thanks to Winnie for taking time out of her busy schedule to talk to us. If you’re interested in a weekend of design and architecture make sure to grab your tickets for IDFFHK now. We’ll see you there!
Pssst! Don’t forget to check out our quick questions with Winnie.