Meet Joyce Wang | Interior Designer With a Unique Aesthetic
Knowing what you want to do for a living at six years old doesn't happen to most of us, but for Joyce Wang, she knew exactly what she wanted to do -- interior design. From hotels to restaurants, Wang creates breathtaking spaces that teleport you to a different time period, or to a peaceful oasis. In our interview with Wang, she talks about where she draws inspiration from, the thought process behind each project, and much more.
When did you know that you wanted to make a career out of interior design and how do you want people to feel after leaving a space that you've designed?
I recall a specific memory of accompanying my mother at the HSBC building in Hong Kong; rising through the glass underbelly of the building into the beautiful guts of the interior. It was overwhelming and beautiful at the same time. I think I was six and that was the moment I decided I wanted to curate journeys as such when I grew up. I want people to feel very much what I felt that day -- empowered, connected, feeling like a million dollars.
You have a few big projects under your belt, including the newest Spiga restaurant in Hong Kong that opened in 2016. Spiga boasts of vintage Italian decor, can you explain the thought process behind creating the design for a new project?
For Spiga, we looked to the best Italian cuisine, cinema, vernacular architecture, and its famed circuses and street performers for inspiration. We were given a free hand to design the restaurant and procured over a hundred authentic Italian light fixtures and furniture pieces by iconic designers that we had admired over the years. These pieces had an inherent aesthetic and personality that told new stories when they interacted or conflicted with our design interventions.
I see many parallels between interior design and filmmaking. Building anticipation, developing character, and mastering storytelling are some of the most important themes we explore in every project that we become involved in.
“Ideas come from everywhere and they are best when they result from exchange and dialogue; often from people of different cultures and backgrounds."
Recently you redesigned the 120-room Landmark Mandarin Oriental, a hotel in Hong Kong, where each room is beautifully designed with sophistication and a sense of tranquillity. When brainstorming for the hotel, what planning went into this versus a restaurant design?
For a restaurant, there's theatre and stardom associated with the food and chef. We create a public stage for the food and chef to shine. For a hotel, it's about making the guest feel like they are the stars in a space that elevates their lifestyle. To successfully achieve this, it was important to understand the clientele of the Landmark Mandarin Oriental and the intricacies of how they can still be comfortable outside of their own skin. We spent a lot of time at the hotel, in its various offerings like the spa, restaurants, lobby, and bar to understand why people came and went, how they felt, what they wore, and who they were with. This understanding became the foundation for our design brief.
How do you manage to keep up with work while being full-time mother and wife?
Simply having the best team at home and at work!
When you are not working, what can we find you doing in your spare time?
I love the outdoors and any excuse to be out and about. I love snowboarding and watching films -- attending the Sundance Festival was the best as I was able to enjoy both passions.
Joyce Wang Studio is a workplace in Hong Kong where creatives can retreat to and collaborate with other creative minds, why do you feel it’s important for people to have this space available in such a busy city?
To me, the studio is a place that nurtures confidence as much as it generates exciting ideas. Ideas come from everywhere and they are best when they result from exchange and dialogue; often from people of different cultures and backgrounds. It's important for our studio to be a retreat from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong so that ideas can take the time to marinade and mature, as can people and relationships.
How has your design aesthetic developed since you first began?
I like to think we have always been open-minded to design and have been lucky enough to be able to experiment with new techniques whether in materials, typologies, or aesthetics.
What are three of your favorite places in Hong Kong?
1. The Asia Society in Hong Kong - an incredible piece of architecture that integrates with its tropical landscape.
2. The Coastal Defence Museum - it's a bit of a hidden gem and you can really journey through the various exhibits, indoor and outdoor, immersing yourself in the rich history of Hong Kong
3. Mott 32 - it's become a destination restaurant in Hong Kong.
Any upcoming projects that you can share with us?
The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London renovations will be complete in a year's time. We are also working on hospitality projects in New York that are due to open later in 2018.
What does MISSBISH mean to you and who is your MISSBISH?
MISSBISH is about celebrating the amazing women at the top of their field. My MISSBISH is Ilse Crawford -- someone who has forged her own style and continues to make a unique mark in the design world.
Photographer: Stanley Cheng