Arthur de Villepin
Arthur de Villepin is the founder and CEO of Art de Vivre Group and is deeply involved in its several French-profiled businesses around the city, including the wine-and-art platform Pont des Arts and art-photography outfit, YellowKorner. He’s built a lifestyle brand with strong roots in France and China, bridging cultural gaps in order to create, as he says, “a meaningful experience for consumers through refined taste”. With offices in Hong Kong and Shanghai, and partners in Beijing, de Villepin has been planting his footprints deep into the concrete of Central, where many of his businesses are a stone’s throw from one another. And with his finely balanced portfolio of diverse projects, he’s by far one of the most calm and collected folks we’ve profiled in recent years.
“I think French people have this kind of revolutionary mindset — and they invented this mindset,” he says, “so I think that they’re kind of dreamers and trendsetters in a way where they want to create and invent new businesses, and are very entrepreneurial in the way they think. They have this combination of creativity mixed with action and execution that can create a very good profile.”
His products reflect a desire for a higher quality of life, giving consumers a chance to stop and enjoy the wine, to appreciate art in its highest forms and to sample cuisine at its very best. “I know it’s more than bringing brands; there’s a lot of work in sharing views and sharing the mindset to make [the people of Hong Kong] understand that life is not just about work and money.”
Regardless of his ties to France (his father is the former Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin), Hong Kong is home for this tall Frenchman. He says he’s proud to be in such a diverse city, describing it as the most dynamic and energetic in the world. “What’s not to love about the balance of life in Hong Kong, with beaches and greenery not far from the city centre? It allows you the benefit of the best of both worlds, while staying active and working.”
After a recent move to a bigger Hong Kong office in order to restructure the operations of his business, he has time to reflect and look towards to the future. Currently considering developments in the retail sector and in new vineyards, de Villepin is travelling almost every month. He hopes to set up a head office in Shanghai for additional developments in China with a focus on e-commerce.
As much as he’s invested in Hong Kong, trips to the South of France are an annual affair. “I go back to Paris occasionally, and every summer I go back to the South of France — I love it there. I need this kind of spirit and soul which translates into a way of life in order to keep me inspired. When I come back to Hong Kong I know why I’m doing what it is I’m doing. I really believe in the culture that I find back in France and in Paris. All these places, where you don’t just consume life, you live it for something greater.”
Outfit: de Villepin's own
Lapel chain: Patinova