Imagine being the Number One person in the world, for something? Typically, you first think of a sports person; the fastest runner, or swimmer, in the world. Well, how about the Number One interior designer in the world; now that’s someone I want to meet!A post-graduate from Princeton University, Alexander Wong is the brains behind his award-winning, avant-garde firm, Alexander Wong Architects. Since 2001, the company has evolved into a multi-disciplinary powerhouse, creating fresh, cutting edge designs, for architecture and interiors. I met Alexander at his offices in downtown Central, in Hong Kong, and instantly connected with his charismatic and dynamic personality. With the chances of me being Number One at anything, basically a zilch, I was keen to know what it feels like to be the Best Interior Designer in the world for 2016/2017.
Alexander: It’s out of this world, because I really didn’t expect it. We received the award at the Savoy Hotel in London, of all places, and we were the last to be announced. It was humbling, but at the same time reassuring, that what we are doing is innovative and speaks to the almost one hundred judges on the panel. It was an amazing experience!
The project for which Alexander won this award for is called Carmen Futura, the futuristic cinema complex located at the Langham Place Mall in Mongkok, described as the busiest district in the world by the Guinness World Records.
Alexander: Mongkok is an area filled with legends of the Hong Kong film industry, and particularly the films of directors Johnnie To and Wong Kar Wai, who I know, as a friend. So we thought, why not tell the world about Hong Kong’s New Wave Cinema, through the design of this complex. The films of Wong Kar Wai are also filled with desire and lust; very complex emotions; so we created this cinema, based on passion and mind control!
At this point of our meeting Alexander’s assistant, Rock, starts projecting onto large screens around the room, images of Carmen Futura. Instantly, I feel transported into the latest, high-tech, space-age film.
Alexander: We also wanted to add a sci-fi element to the design to bring it into the 21st century. The Gravity restrooms, (he says, pointing the the screen) was inspired by the film Gravity and we wanted to create this “anti-gravity” feeling. The starkness of the black and white tiles are softened by the curved designs of the hand basins and street lamps. In fact it was this design, that is so outrageous, that when we presented it to the client they said: “Ok, you’re hired”!
The amazing Cinema City Langham Place is also Hong Kong’s first 4DX theatre, where films can be viewed with “environmental effects” such as seat motion, scents, wind and rain. It becomes obvious, looking at the photos of Alexander’s work, that this is some of the most daring, out-there, designs I’ve ever seen. I am fascinated to understand more about his creative process.
Alexander: Any design process is a journey; it’s childlike, but it can also be profound. You start off with nothing; you can’t have any preconceived notions. And then the location; the combination of team members; the client; the clientele; the era; the spatial dynamics; all this informs you as to how you go about creating something.
Alexander: This what we call the Cloud Atlas Tunnel which leads into the actual cinemas, and it’s all about hypnosis. If you type in (to a search engine), “hypnosis”, it’s all about mind-control. So the swirl on the ceiling, like a lollypop, and the numbers on the walls of the corridor (3,2,1), which is what they say to wake you from a hypnotised state. I believe that going to see a film is like being under hypnosis, for a couple of hours, you are transported into another realm.
Upon hearing Alexander talk about this, it’s as if I too have just woken from a dream – suddenly it all starts to make sense. Through his designs, Alexander is further influencing the experiences we have when we go to the cinema, a nightclub, or the rest room, like a concoctor of magic! As I exit the office building into the bright lights and loud noises of the street scape, I have to blink my eyes a couple of times. Did that interview really happen; did Alexander weave his magic over me, or was it just a figment of my imagination!
If you would like to read more about Alexander and his incredible projects, or contact him, click here