Local Identity And Design

Ever since the first umbrella, satchel or notebook with the apartment blocks of Yau Ma Tei or the pages of a local newspaper emblazoned across it hit the streets, the idea of Hong Kong design has never been the same. G.O.D. proved it was okay to celebrate our own—and if you could be cheeky about it even better.
Even without the flagship Causeway Bay Store to pop into and browse around, G.O.D. has managed to hold on to its place in the public mind. It is, at this point, Hong Kong’s own Coca-Cola: the most instantly recognisable brand in the city. So much so that occasionally we take it for granted and don’t acknowledge what’s new in store.

Two decades is a long time to be setting trends and outfitting homes and so the question becomes one of what fuels the ideas after all this time. “I am very inspired by the local traditions of Hong Kong, especially those that are overlooked by the modern world. They are the features that set us apart from the rest of the world and that tend to be ignored,” explains co-founder and designer Douglas Young, who is still enthralled by the city around him. Mention that G.O.D. is extremely “Hong Kong” and he fires back with a quick, “Why shouldn’t G.O.D. be extremely Hong Kong? After all it is a Hong Kong brand and very proud to be so! It’s the same reason why Muji is extremely Japanese and Louis Vuitton (or Agnes B) is extremely French!”

So what is Young incorporating into the stores alongside G.O.D.’s signature Yau Ma Tei and apartment block pattern on textiles, L-shaped couches, that bamboo styled leaning rack and the expected array of housewares by Bodum, Toolbar, Brabantia and Umbra among others? There’s a lot more vintage and vintage-inspired pieces on the showroom floor in Horizon Plaza and more metal. New to the stock are Ming Dynasty-style chairs in gleaming chrome as one standout as well as the smooth, light wood Nexus series (dining table and bench) and the Nector chair and tripod stool. Young has also developed a fascination with vintage doors that have been repurposed (for tables and room screens as a start). “We are using a lot of ‘found’ objects this season, turning Hong Kong and Asian vintage items into contemporary one-off pieces is new,” says Young. “This is both environmentally sound as well as intellectually stimulating.” The vintage items are indeed one-offs, but they can be duplicated given enough time. Young continues to design custom pieces as well, so that time can vary depending on the item and the amount of detail that goes into it.

Whether or not the perception is accurate, G.O.D. has a classicist image. Most of us tend to think of its colour options as in the neutral zone. The showroom may leave the impression of eclecticism but many of the brand’s furniture leans toward contemporary simplicity. But as Young notes, this year, “It’s all about mix and match, and not just one colour or design: Patterns have to be contrasted with plain; Eastern influences juxtaposed against Western ones; textures against smooth surfaces and so on. The resulting look or ensemble is a collage.”

As Young says, G.O.D. is uniquely Hong Kong and a brand that Hongkongers can be proud of. It’s still the go-to store when unique gifts are needed and it’s defiantly local at time when most brands strive for anonymously global—and it’s likely going to stay that way. “For me, Hong Kong is full of excitement,” finishes Young. “I can always think of something here that inspires.”