The art and process of conceiving and creating the objects we use, the clothes we dress in, and the buildings we live in and admire affect much of what we see and do. In this series, we rounded up seven local female designers – women whose work has enhanced our lives, and we think may do the same for you.
Below, we speak to Jaqueline Chak of EDITECTURE to discover how the architect and interior designer found her calling, and how sustainability and community both play essential parts in all of her designs.
In Conversation With Jacqueline Chak
Tell us a bit about your background. How did you get into design?
I started my architecture education in Los Angeles before continuing my studies and receiving my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London. I lived in London for seven years and trained as an architect with Foster & Partners there, before practising with Bow wow atelier in Japan and Ronald Lu and partners in Hong Kong. After that, I started our own design studio EDITECTURE with my business partner Genevieve. Working in different parts of the world and strategically gaining experience in offices of different scales (from a 5 full-time staff in Japan to 1000 in London) enabled me to obtain a very different perspective and vision of design and learn about running a business.
Who are your greatest influences in design and architecture?
My parents are art and antique collectors and dealers who have their own antique businesses. When I was still a child, they would bring my brother and me to different museums around the world, from the Beijing Palace Museum to the British Museum; from Istanbul to the oldest museum in Nepal and to the MIHO museum in Japan etc. My brother and I used to find it quite boring as children but when I grew older, I started to appreciate the beauty and started to enjoy museums more. My parents also used to bring antiques home and share their history with us. All of this led to my interest in art and design and influenced my perspective and views towards design and architecture when I got to explore the fields further myself.
In terms of architecture, I remember naming the HSBC by Foster and Partners in Hong Kong at my architecture admission interview as that is the iconic building that I grew up with here in Hong Kong. Rem Koolhaas, OMA would be my first favourite architect. I love his conceptual ideas and theories of architecture.
Can you tell us about a design of yours that represents you as a designer today?
The EDIT sustainable mahjong and mahjong furniture set. It’s a piece of art that’s designed and influenced by the techniques and know-how I gained working for my two brands, EDIT and EDITECTURE. It started with the concept of “Better Together”, which came out of the pandemic while I was recalling memories and chatting with my grandmothers and hearing about our traditions and culture. It also led to us exploring discussions with the younger generations on sustainability and environmental issues in our world.
The whole process of making the mahjong and the furniture set involved five different craftsmen and contractors – a gathering of different talents and resources that we have built up from the years of running our own design studio.
The design itself can sometimes be one’s own subjective knowledge and perspective but being able to realise and create something as a collective utilising ideas and techniques from different areas and with our teammates is eye-opening.
You have your hands in both fashion and architectural design. Do your creative work in both complement one another?
Yes, totally. My partner Genevieve is the main creative director behind the fashion arm of our brand, yet we work closely on every minor and major decision together from the structure and design of our fashion line or architecture and space. Our clothing is very much inspired by sculptural artwork and architectonic forms and shapes. In some ways, our architectural language and fashion style share a similar aesthetic and functional structural form with a very sleek and clean silhouette. We create designs that make our users and audience “feel good or better” about themselves.
Where do you see architectural design heading in the future?
For me, architectural design is one of the most important aspects of life. It directly affects our environmental impact on our world as well. It is heading towards sustainable design and designing towards a sustainable future. Our role, as designers and architects, is to use our skills to create a more sustainable world for the next generation.
Can you name a moment in your career that you’re most proud of?
When Lung Gor, a homeless citizen in Hong Kong told us: “Thank you for caring about us and our livelihood and changing our lives, normally we are always abandoned.“ On EDIT’s 10th year anniversary in 2021, our team designed a project called “HOMEDIT” – a mobile home designed for the homeless, equipped with daily essentials and sustainable elements built together by children attending our Edit Academy. That was one of the most vivid moments that I am most proud of as an architect – making an impact on someone’s life. There is so much more we can do to give back to our society and create a positive impact on our community.
We are expanding our [RE] EDIT Lab – which is our sustainable workshop where we do research and studies to create projects and offer various sustainable materials. As the entire ecosystem is within Hong Kong, we can lower the carbon footprint and cost of production and make a bigger impact. We are partnering with local recycling factories on the collection of wastage in order to make sure we can upcycle different wastage within Hong Kong to create our sustainable supplies locally within the system. One step at a time, we hope to make our contribution to our city as well as our world.