Prize Fighters2011 turned out to be a good year for LLS Design & Associates. The ten-year-old studio picked up two awards from the Hong Kong Designers Association for excellence in residential design and style. Square Foot chats with co-founders and creative directors Lawrence Lau and Helen Siauw about what’s next and where Hong Kong is still falling short.

The studio has been open since 2003. How do you see yourselves growing or expanding in the future? Where would you like to be in 5 years?
Siauw: We will not limit ourselves within the interior design sector. We are also ready to participate in various other design industries like graphics and furniture design and so on. To become more globalised we also plan to step into other areas, say China and other East Asian countries.

You’ve said you are continually inspired new observations and knowledge. What has really excited you lately?
Lau: We were awarded two Hong Kong Designers Association Global Awards in 2011. That was very exciting for us, of course and the excellence awards were the first that we took part in “live.” On that night we discovered some designers are expanding their professional services to other design areas, again, like an interior designer working in graphics, and a fashion designer trying their hand at branding or photography. We recognised the new observations and knowledge in our own sector, and we need to open our eyes to everything.

Past Projects
What was the most difficult project you’ve worked on in the past and what made it such a challenge? How did you “fix” it?
Lau: Each project has their difficulties and we deal with them individually. By communicating with contractors, accepting that clients adjust their “design” and make it a reality we keep a positive attitude that allows for experimentation.

LOHAS is an increasingly influential trend these days. How does all the sourcing and manufacturing in China affect your work like this, when quality standards and controls there have such a poor reputation?
Siauw: We try and stay on top of all the products, items and parts we use and source them from anywhere in the world. In order to provide pleasant living conditions for our clients the things that we select are user- and environmentally friendly. A home is an area to offer sanctuary to people after a long working day, and we believe ergonomics, safety and comfort should meet the most basic quality and lifestyle standards.

Wish List
What design ideas or elements that are rare here would you like to see more of or become more common in Hong Kong? What is the city’s design industry lacking?
Siauw: Design direction. We found not many designers can reflect the end user’s character. Sometimes the only character present is the designer of the project’s. It’s essential to change some of the ways to present designer’s style as well as end-user habits and character.
Lau: We are lacking Human Capital. Although a lot of new people enter the industry they are not fully passionate about it. They are important for us; they bring along various new ideas and inspire us, however, they fight only on paper. We need people that will speak up when there’s a problem, and as the senior professional we will edify them on how to make their ideas real.