People

The ideas from life

A designer-turned entrepreneur shares her thoughts about developing useful desgins from daily observations

The first and only female grand-prize winner of the Hong Kong Young Designer of the Year Award Competition, Ms Florence Wong Ceok-na's greatest success has been turning her love for design into a business.
One year after graduated from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Ms Wong founded her own brand, the Zan's Global Limited with her husband in 1995. The company now exports designer-kitchen utensils, toys, gift and premiums to over 30 countries.
The bold use of colour and cute pattern are often found in her products. Ms Wong said she hopes these joyful characteristics will enlighten everybody's life.

Life is made up of details
Help changing a common life into uniqueness is undoubtedly her mission as a designer and the inspiration can be any detail from daily observations, said Wong.

One example is her newly designed series, "Papas say yes", demonstrated in the Hong Kong Gift and Premium Fair in April.
The use of moustache as the main pattern in household products not only catches up with the fashion trend since 2010, but also symbolises an agreeable and supportive father in a family, said Ms Wong.

Ms Wong deems observation a linchpin for design. "As almost nothing is new under the sun, we cannot easily come up with a first-hand idea. But through spotting out the exiting problems, we may improve what we already have," she said.

Insight is the key to success
Ms Wong noticed her talent in art since she was a child as her paintings often ranked top in class and competitions.

And she was the only one among her parents' three daughters who inherited her mother's aptitude in making textile. She knew how to operate a traditional loom when she was just ten years old.

With rich knowledge about clothing and fair academic results, Ms Wong was likely to get admitted to fashion design, a more popular major in the early 90's. But her indomitable personality drove her to learn industrial design, a tough male-dominated profession.
"I have always wanted to try something new, something challenging and something I have never done before," she laughed and explained her extraordinary decision.

Yet Ms Wong said talent alone is not enough to bring a designer success. Her hard working and courage contribute more in her careers, she said.

Her effort is recognisable with various designer awards won over the years, from local prizes like the Hong Kong Smart Gifts Design Awards to the global ones like the honourable mention of the International Design Awards.
The tough time to the designer-turned entrepreneur came along with the financial tsunami in 2009 when one of her major trading partners, a German company, collapsed. She then worked on to explore new markets and at the same time, improved her existing products to attract clients.

Noting that "insight is the key to success", Ms Wong is heading to develop the mainland market.

Environmental-friendly products
Asked about her favourite design, Ms Wong was keen to show the Almigh'tea bags, a reusable silicone series of five colours.
The tea bags made of non-toxic and heat-resisted material enable users to mix tea safely with different ingredients and create unique flavours.

She hopes to use silicone in more of her design and explore some new environmental-friendly materials and technologies in the coming future.

 

Reported by Nikki Wu

Edited by  Katheleen Wong

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