Architect Steve Leung explains why putting people first in design is more relevant than ever


Much has changed over the past two years. Social distancing has found its way into the everyday vernacular and continues to make its presence known even as we take faltering steps toward a mysterious, albeit often repeated, future that is a new normal.

These are milestones that everyone has had ample time to think about – including Hong Kong-born architect and designer Steve Leung, the visionary behind his eponymous award-winning Steve Leung Design Group.

He shaped the company, now one of Asia’s biggest and brightest, over a period of nearly three and a half decades. He has also completed projects at the zenith of luxury and functionality in more than 100 cities around the world, including the Shangi-La Hotel at The Shard in London and One Shenzhen Bay.

But the Covid-19 pandemic is quite new – and with it, a paradigm shift that encompasses new challenges for designers like Leung to find a balance within. The prolific architect, who recently lifted the curtains of Club C +, a members-only cigar club in Hong Kong slated to open later this year, explains what good design means to him and why it’s so important to put what matters most at the center of it all – humanity.

Club C +, Hong Kong

Tell us more about your basic design philosophy.

Design is about life, and life is about people, life and experience. Good design will always be human-centered – providing a harmonious fusion of aesthetics and functionality that serves people and their needs in the best possible way, while improving the quality of everyday life. That said, I have witnessed a shift in demand – people are turning to holistic lifestyle approaches, instead of mere materialistic endeavors, with a more conscious appreciation of quality of life indicators in design. such as fresh air, abundant natural light and greenery. Despite new trends coming and going, original ideas that meet people’s basic needs functionally and even more so psychologically will be the designs most sought after for their power to create positive change.

Speaking of new trends, what has changed over the past two years – and what do you think deserves a place in the new normal?

In the years to come, I firmly believe that the quality of design will be assessed through the prism of major trends in sustainability, well-being, flexibility and integration with smart technology, with design playing a crucial role. to meet today’s environmental challenges.

A pandemic silver liner is an increased awareness of design principles such as sustainability and well-being, now essential when creating new design outcomes. For example, green building standards such as LEED and WELL certifications are increasingly being considered and adopted in today’s design concepts, which in turn creates more biophilic spaces and stimulates l use of environmentally friendly and reusable materials and finishes. By the way, I also expect a higher demand for flexible spaces, especially in the personal setting. As we strive towards a post-pandemic era, I believe we will continue to see more work-from-home policies enforced, building on multi-functional spatial arrangements that blur the lines between private homes and workplaces. traditional. These include custom spaces that are integrated with smart technology for maximum personalization.

I certainly hope that Asia takes a leading approach in standardizing design practices that use natural, sustainable and recycled materials at large, as well as smart and eco-friendly energy saving systems. environment, all of which contribute to the betterment of our community and our planet.

(Related: The National Museum of Singapore Revisits Iconic Playgrounds From The Past)

What do you think are the design trends that will emerge after the pandemic?

People spend more time at home, whether for work or play. So, I imagine the “post-pandemic house” to be a highly flexible environment, encompassing multifunctional arrangements capable of unfolding new perspectives on how we approach our traditional lifestyles and work experience.

City life is a prime example of the evolution of design, especially with the evolution of the traditional office. Working from home remains the status quo in many urban contexts, and more and more people want dedicated workspaces in the safety of their homes. In terms of design, this translates into new opportunities that redefine our living spaces. Again, smart technologies play a crucial role, with the IoT (Internet of Things) providing a higher degree of space customization that deeply connects interior design and technology.

These home workspaces will benefit from carefully selected “smart” furniture with multiple functions – like practical dining tables with large, easy-to-clean surfaces – will likely become a preferred choice among home owners. Iconic “meeting backgrounds” with neutral colors or eye-catching paints will also be the norm, especially with the frequency of online chats today. The abundance of plants and flowers will also enrich the space, creating a sort of ‘secret garden’, especially in densely populated cities – like Hong Kong, where enjoying a full-fledged garden is rare.

Finally, with the constant risk that kindergartens and schools suspend lessons, home workspaces are also configured to include dedicated areas for children for children to entertain themselves: playful “activity stations” in cheerful colors and well equipped with entertainment are essential to relax. multitasking between parenthood and professional tasks.

Club C +, Hong Kong
Club C +, Hong Kong

Let’s talk outside the home, you recently unveiled Club C +, a members-only cigar club in Hong Kong. How do you think it will play out in the endemic world?

For me, luxury is synonymous with excellent quality and great attention to detail, and of course, high-end exclusivity and refined pleasure. In my projects, these elements are expressed through the harmonious mixture of colors, a careful selection of materials, an intelligent use of space and proportions. Club C + is one of my most recent design achievements here in Hong Kong that perfectly embodies all of these qualities of luxury design.

When it comes to “pandemic-proof design”, highly personalized and private lifestyle experiences come to the fore. That’s why I think my original vision of Club C + is perfect for today’s requirements. More than an enviable destination, Club C + also offers its members a safe, clean and comfortable private space. In fact, we plan to open more branches in other cities, including Shanghai and Tokyo, where members can meet friends from all over the world in isolated “home-away-from-home” environments.

And apart from exclusivity and luxurious experiences, how can good design benefit the world?

From the very beginning of my career, I have always envisioned design as an incredibly powerful tool that can change the narrative of today’s societal and environmental challenges, helping our communities and the planet to move forward. As designers, we have the means and the responsibility to meet these challenges through professional design results that transcend mere aesthetics and functionality. Our mission is to improve the world by creating inclusive and sustainable spaces to live, work and play. Good design creates a positive and lasting impact in our daily lives through the creation of constructive and lasting elements in the built landscape that tackle and eventually solve societal and environmental issues – it’s all part of Steve’s shared vision. Leung Design Group for “good human-centered design”.

To know more about Steve Leung Design Group.


Comments are closed.