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April 3, 2024

Wednesday 3 April 2024 – Monocle Minute

Words with… / Joyce Wang, Hong Kong

Thinking ahead

Joyce Wang is the founder and principal of her eponymous interior-design practice, based in Hong Kong and London. Her portfolio includes restaurants, such as The Magistracy and Mott 32 in Hong Kong, and hotels, including London’s Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park and The Hollywood Roosevelt in Los Angeles. Wang recently joined Monocle on Design for a live recording in Hong Kong to discuss timelessness in design.

How would you define a timeless interior?
A great interior is like a great film: you want to return to it and rewatch it again and again. And every time you revisit it, there’s something different that grabs your attention. It brings me a lot of joy when people discuss something in my designs that I might not have anticipated. These conversations extend beyond the space. The aesthetic of an interior can be designed to be timeless to a certain extent but some things, such as the lease on a space or the permanence of an establishment, are beyond our control. Understanding these constraints helps us to design better.

How is technology affecting the design of hospitality spaces?
Designing for hospitality is completely different to residential design. Clients can be much more specific about their preferences when it comes to their homes – the temperature of the lighting, say, or even the position of the drapery that can be controlled from an iPad. Hospitality design, on the other hand, is focused on design that everyone should be able to use as soon as they enter a room. Once, we worked on a hotel project that we initially thought would incorporate hi-tech programmable devices into the rooms but, in the end, we decided to go with traditional on-off switches. Instead of overcomplicating things, we went with something that people are familiar with and intuitively understand how to use.

How does your choice of materials contribute to a project’s sense of timelessness?
I named my daughter after architect Christopher Wren, who once had the foresight to plant a tree next to the cathedral that he was building. The beams of the cathedral were huge and [the wood needed for them] wasn’t something that you could easily find. So he planted the tree ahead of time to ensure that it would be ready and large enough when it became necessary to change the beams. It’s this sort of foresight that I strive to incorporate into my work and, as such, materials and where they come from are a huge factor in our designs. We like to consider the durability of materials and embrace how they will change. There’s a beauty to things that are used over time, such as scratches on a doorknob.

For more live Monocle on Design recordings, join us in Paris and Berlin next week.

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