Interiors Are More About Communication

Interior designer Colin Fung truly knows his home interiors. Before launching GF Design in 2008, Fung worked on the front lines of interiors delivering furniture from factories in his youth. After getting a taste for design later as a furniture sales rep, he studied formally at the Hong Kong Design Institute and never looked back. Squarefoot chats with the founder, creative director and chief designer of GF Design.

What inspires your work — fashion, movies, colour, shape?
My interests and habits are very diverse, from watching movies to playing remote-controlled car games. These help relax the mind and get away from the desk and projects, which is the most important for a designer in moving from project to project. And inspirations always come directly from clients. We always emphasise the importance of “people-oriented” design that helps the designers to understand each consumer. The more understanding you have of your customers, the more you can do for them. So this is how the inspiration arises.

Your portfolio is pretty diverse. How would you describe your style, or do you try and avoid too many “signature” looks?
There are never two identical clients in the market. No two will ever have the same needs, the same tastes or lifestyle, the same wishes and same desire for quality of life. As mentioned, as interior designers, we have to spend a lot of time listening to the client, to get a feel for how they feel, to understand what they like. All this creates a unique design for the customer. In addition, we hold regular meetings to share and inspire each other, so every designer on the team can share their ideas. But somehow it helps maintain everyone’s uniqueness in his or her own designs.

Can you describe your biggest design challenge? And how did you solve the problems?
The ever-changing needs and wishes of a customer will always be the biggest challenges. We are fine with spending time understanding our clients, analysing their true needs, wishes and preferences. Yet if one is constantly changing one’s mind, that makes our lives very difficult. It comes down to the same old solution: find time to understand each other and pick a time to stop. And have the guts to say no — which goes both ways.

What are some of your design pet peeves — things that really make you crazy and throw your hands up and say, “Stop!”?
This is a tricky one. I would never stop or throw my hands up. It is always okay that we keep going crazy and to be a little unrealistic as designers. The craziest thing is that … we cannot stop ourselves despite a ton of work. And of course, we cannot stop the desire to advance, to explore, to create and to grow.

If the government has its way flats are going to get smaller and smaller. Is this going to make design harder or do we not need as much space as we think we do?
The size of flats is just one of the factors affecting design. The shape, the space and the size of the flat to a designer are the same as a different medium to an artist. You cannot say painting on a small canvas is more difficult than on a bigger one, or using acrylic colour is easier than using watercolour, right? There are always constraints in difficult flats, and they are all challenges to the designers.