I have met David Yu in a Christmas party. Such a great chance! below is the interview.

Would you tell us briefly who you are and what you do?

My name is David Yu, I’m turning 30 in 2002, I’m based in New York right now but most likely not for much longer, I’m a designer.

The purpose of visiting Hong Kong? How long will you stay?

For the last five years or so ever since I moved to New York from Vancovuer I’ve been coming to Hong Kong around the end of the year to spend Christmas and New Years my family. I usually then head back to New York after New Years, in early January.

What is your impression to H.K.?

When I was a kid the best thing was coming back and buying BB guns and toy robots and fresh new clothes to bring back to Vancovuer, haha. We would usually make a trip up to Guangzhou, China too, to visit my mom’s side of the family, and there my uncles would hook us up with boxes of fireworks and we’d go to a park at night, eat lychees and light them all off. Now that I’m older, my Cantonese has improved, I’ve got disposable income and I have friends and ex-classmates living and working here, so my visits here in the last few years have been a much different experience. I can now imagine what it would be like to be someone in his 20s living here.

From your point of view, what are the difference between H.K. and N.Y.?

Both are big crazy cities where there’s a ton to consume and a lot of life is lived on the street….because HK is smaller geographically its more crowded and feels like there’s more people here. Besides that theres not many more similarities. New York is a much older city and theres a lot more grit and worn edges, and a lot more history and art and culture in the traditional sense, everywhere you go….Hong Kong has a gritty side too but its also balanced off by a hyper-modern side probably inspired by neighbouring Japan, plus a cosmopolitan refinement brought on by almost 100 years of British rule, and a fascinating historically older cultural side that seems infused into everything which came from thousands of years of Chinese history …..so its all these sides coming together and clashing of cultures which makes for a vastly more interesting city, in my mind. I miss the pizza in New York though, haha.

What do you like/hate the most about H.K.?

Hmm….well theres definitely a lot to like….I like the food, the shopping, the late night eating, the smell of the damp air and the feel of walking down a street at night…I like how its surrounded by islands, I grew up by the water so its nice to know I can hope on a boat and escape the city to Lamma Island or Lantau Island, or even Macau. Geographically and urban planning-wise Hong Kong is really interesting, you can walk around in MidLevels here and look up or look down and theres just so much depth and layers between the hills and the trees, the big office buildings and the temple that sits right next to it.

Not a lot I hate about it, the consumer culture gets to be a bit suffocating after awhile, but its something you can pull out of if you want, at least the choice is there if you want to take it, and thats the most important thing I think, having that choice…knowing you can run down to the street and get a pair of sneakers at midnight or a bowl of noodles at three in the morning if you want. Hong Kong really seems to be about choice, and things can happen really quickly for you if you want to make it happen. Oh, and I don’t really like the humidity of the
summers here….pretty unbearable.

Where did you go? Who have you met?

I didn’t have too much time to explore, mostly met up with family and friends in a few areas close to where they work or live or hangout:
Kowloon City (which I lived), Mongkok, Causeway Bay, Central. I met up with some old high-school friends, some college friends…mostly eating and drinking at places in around Causeway Bay and Soho (in Central). Christmas Eve was spent at an surreal little outdoor bar on a little island in Shek O, Christmas was spent checking out the lights on Hong Kong harbour from Tsim Sha Tsui, and a most unforgetttable New Years Eve was spent at C Club in Lan Kwai Fong and a variety of other places (it got to be a blur towards the end). And there was that night that I met you on Boxing Day at the IdN Christmas party in Soho. What else…..I didn’t even buy that much stuff on this trip, the most I bought (weight-wise) was on a trip to Cat Street where I bought a stack of 80’s Hong Kong pop records and some old Hong Kong magazines which thrilled me beyond words. I really gotta thank my friends Patrick and Miu for their hospitality.

Who is your favourite HERO from H.K. and how did he/she impress you so much?

Favorite hero from Hong Kong, hmm…there are people that I like and admire, or am inspired or impressed by, but as far as true heroes go its hard to name any. This will sound corny but my mum and dad have never ceased to impress me, so i’ll have to say that its them!

Do you think what you see in H.K. inpsirates your thinking on doing design or any design based project?

What I do in my work is largely inspired from my own life experience, and since I grew up in a Hong Kong-Chinese family, speaking Cantonese, being brought up with the values associated with this culture, watching HK TV shows and listening to HK music, then yeah, I would have to say that a lot of that has informed my creative work, some consciously and mostly subconsciously i think.

Are there any designers from H.K. you would like to co-operate/work with? What makes you interested in working with them? What would you do with them? (for example, publish a book, build a web site, just shopping and hava a beer…etc)

I havent met that many designers in Hong Kong yet, but yeah, I’d love to try to meet more and just kind of see how they like living and working here, how they like working in hong kong, how they find the design industry here, stuff like that…maybe talk a little shop and find out how people deal with clients, how they charge, etc…the culture is different and its still kind of a strange place to me….there’s probably different mannerisms and nuances to that side of the business here. If the conversations actually lead to doing work together then that would be even better! Usually its rare because I feel that its not enough to have common interests (almost a given among designers), its also about sharing common goals, values, appreciation of the process and expectations with the outcome. That’s kind of how Eric So and I ended up working together.

What are you working on recently? What will be your next project for DHKY?

Well I’m working on planning on moving to Hong Kong later this year! I’ve wanted to for a while, but then on this trip back, all of a sudden the opportunity kinda threw itself into my face and made itself clear that it was the next logical and obvious step. The last time I felt that compelled by a decision was when I moved to New York from Vancouver, and that turned out pretty good, so hopefully this will be a move in the right direction too, personally and professionally. As far as projects for DHKY go, it will be whatever it ends up being, thats kinda how its always been….its never really planned, it usually just kinda happens.

Text: Mlee from Shellmoon
Photos: Elaine Lee from Eoll

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