McCarthy of Charlie & RoseAustralian Ben McCarthy is the latest addition to Hong Kong’s design landscape

After working in the UK — with Candy & Candy, which was tasked with developing One Hyde Park — and Australia to significant acclaim — from the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and the Green Building Council of Australia for starters — Charlie & Rose founder Ben McCarthy set his sights on Hong Kong and a designled project management company with a mandate for innovation and sustainability. Square Foot chats with the SAR’s freshest design mind.

What do you think Hong Kong design is missing that you can provide?
From a design sense — not much, but I think too often designers ignore the commercial needs of a project or neglect to take the time to fully understand their client’s requirements before pushing their own design agenda. My detailed knowledge of every stage in the project process, in tandem with our design approach provides truly considered solutions.

You’ve done mostly hospitality work to now. Any plans to try your hand at office or residential interiors? What kind of challenges do you think you may find there?
Prior to moving to Hong Kong my work has been mostly workplace and residential — but Hong Kong’s dynamic dining scene has meant that there is a lot of work available in this area. However, I am always looking to take on residential and workplace projects where I no doubt expect space to be an interesting challenge.

Do the various types of interiors you do have any influence on each other or bleed into each other— restaurants bleeding into living rooms?
Absolutely. Design isn’t always about pushing a corporate image or brand — it is about creating an atmosphere that evokes a mood. This applies to spaces within the home as much as it does to bars and restaurants. The key to doing this successfully is to understand how people interact with and use different types of spaces.

Is there a common “mistake” you find cropping up again and again from clients?
No. I think it’s the designer’s role to solve problems and make the most of a budget and/ or space constraints. It’s also about managing your clients’ expectations through regular communication and being involved early in the process to assist them with developing the budget or completing the appropriate due diligence on a potential property.

Do you have a wish list of a space you’d really like to get your hands on?
I love projects of any type but I am really keen to partner with a property owner or developer who is looking to do something a bit different — perhaps someone who wants to highlight the heritage or character of an area, maybe a boutique hotel or apartment building with a retail or restaurant offering at street level.