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Divergent Thinking

Walking into Interspace Asia’s office is something of an experience. You won’t find any dreary grey office cubicles with matching grey carpets and matching steel cabinets. What you will find are open workstations, colourful designer furniture, and a bright, cozy working environment where you actually feel like you want to work.

The interior design firm has come a long way since its establishment in 2004. Creative Director Desmond Wong, who co-founded the company with General Manager Louisa Chow, said they have no regrets about going into business, despite the economic gloom and struggles they have had to endure.

“Business wasn’t too hard to find, because we already had close connections with many clients beforehand, as well as referrals from previous customers and friends,” said Wong. “The biggest challenges were finding a suitable location for our office, trustworthy contractors and the right talent to grow the business. Luckily, we have maintained good relationships with both our clients and contractors, which helps ensure everything runs smoothly.”

Interspace’s corporate client base has changed over the last five years, as the company has changed its focus from serving predominantly small- and medium-sized enterprises to multinational organizations as their primary clientele.

“We are also looking to serve larger Mainland companies that are expanding into Asia, and those that are setting up branches in Hong Kong,” said Sean Langston, Executive Director of Corporate Strategy of Interspace Asia.

The unique mix of backgrounds and culture of the top management differentiates Interspace from other local design firms. Having Wong with a design background nurtured in Hong Kong, Chow in marketing from Australia, and Langston in media from the USA, the cultural diversity and knowledge of the partners helps them click with international firms and tastes.

To add value to their retail clients, Chow has come up with the idea to provide a full-service package that integrates branding and development aspects in the design projects.

“The most important aspect is being able to let our clients feel that the design can represent their business in terms of quality and image. Otherwise, they will never come back,” said Chow.

While many workplaces are still boxed in monochromatic shades and cubicle compartments, Interspace Asia offers designs further out of the box. With office design being their main area of expertise, they are hoping more local companies will open up to new ideas and office layouts.

“In a typical office in Hong Kong, there are mainly cubicles and few areas for congregating. There is an overall lack of focus on the quality of the office environment – in short offices tend to be more functional. Most of the focus is on the reception area and conference rooms. Today, many multinational companies use a strategy called hot desking, wherein employees share an open workspace. They will have HR policies stating there has to be a certain amount of personal working space and an enjoyable working environment for staff. These can help companies focus more on the working environment so that the office is more conducive to collaboration,” said Langston.

 

Expanding in Asia

Interspace is starting to pursue partnership opportunities in Southeast Asia, with Singapore being its second key market after Hong Kong.

“More and more regional headquarters are setting up in Singapore,” said Langston. “Local firms tend to miss out on international markets because they focus mainly on China. Our ambition is to go where decisions are made first, so that we can acquire the opportunities and speak directly to the people who are the ones evaluating projects. If we focus solely on Hong Kong, we will be missing much of the business that is coming into the region.”

Langston feels there is huge potential to expand in key cities across Asia, particularly where Interspace is able to produce creative and brave designs. Hong Kong is only just starting to try new design concepts in the workplace, but he expects it won’t be long until more local companies start to embrace international trends, which will make offices and retail stores more interesting to work in and visit.

As office rents continue to rise in core business districts, some companies are giving up the idea of grade-A-office space and moving to industrial districts, such as Kowloon Bay and Kwun Tong, but still want to retain their quality branding and design. At the same time, growing SMEs are expanding into new premises and are looking to raise their branding strategy and image.

“Every move is an opportunity for us,” said Langston,” which is why we are optimistic about the future growth of our business.”

 

Company: Interspace Ltd

HKGCC Membership No. HKI0318

Website: interspace.asia

Contact: 3520 4330

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