Joyce Wang knew what she wanted to be from a very young age: interior designer. After her studies she made her dream come true and founded her own design firm: Joyce Wang Studio. Wang is known and praised for her creative approach that includes art and 'good living', her technical rigour in design and her careful attention to detail. Together with you, we will get to know the talented designer and her studio better and we are happy to show you one of her beautiful projects: Deep Water Bay Mansion.
When did you know you wanted to follow this path and how did you learn about design?
“I recall a specific memory of accompanying my mother to 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 stunning at the same time. I think I was six and that was the moment I decided I wanted to curate journeys like that when I grew up. I want people to feel very much what I felt that day: empowered, connected, feeling like a million dollars. Besides my studies, I learned a lot about design by travelling with my parents when I was young. That really opened my eyes to the power and possibilities of design through time and cultures.” What do you call home today and how do you combine your family life with a busy job?
“Hong Kong and London at the moment. I am a real nomad though. I was born in Hawaii, went to school in the UK, then collage in Boston, then spent a year in the Netherlands in Delft, then to London to work for Foster and study at the Royal College of Art, then LA and then I went to Hong Kong where I started the studio in 2011. But to be honest, I am home wherever my children and husband are. That combination goes so well simply because I have the best team at home and at work!”
What motivates you?
“People who say ‘no’. People who are passionate about what they do. People who have the courage to change. People.”
Which spaces/buildings/designs have moved you?
“The Gund Hall at the Harvard Graduate School of Design humbled me. Noguchi’s playgrounds made me realise that design could be joyful and Adolf Loos’ design of the Knize shop in Vienna showed me that design could take people on a journey.”
“Inspiration from everywhere”
What does good design mean to you?
“It means striking a balance between objectivity and subjectivity, rational and emotional, discipline and indulgence. The most important thing is to make the audience think. Design shouldn’t be superficial, it is an essential form of expression.”
What design element makes a happy home and what is not done in an interior?
“A home is a place to entertain and indulge yourself and those closest to you. There should be a sense of familiarity that is comforting and allows you to let your guard down. I think to over-design a space or follow a formula in order to churn out projects mechanically is not done.”
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned as a designer?
“Any idea can be a good idea if it is well executed.”
Joyce Wang Studio
And Joyce Wang sure executes her ideas well! The studio has already realised several restaurants, hotels and private residences. They are mainly active in the city where they are based, Hong Kong, but they also have a branch in London. Furthermore, they complete projects with great success all over the world. Wang proudly tells us more about her studio and her work.
How would you describe the studio?
“We are ‘all-in’ people who pour their hearts over design. It would be impossible to convince us to behave otherwise. For me, it is important that we are inclusive, open and honest and our designs and culture reflect that. We are ‘yes’ people! We are passionate, persistent, hands-on and somewhat rambunctious. To me, the studio is a place that nurtures confidence as much as it generates exciting ideas.”
What do you want to express or accomplish with your interiors?
“I design spaces that make people feel great. I want people to feel confident, to lose themselves and to have fun. 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.” Where do you find inspiration and who’s your major influence in the design world?
“Ideas come from everywhere and they are best when they result from exchange and dialogue. Often from different people, cultures and backgrounds. Working with talented people: designers, craftsmen, artists, clients,… and film, music and travel also inspire me. A great example for me is the Austrian architect Adolf Loos with his furniture, lighting and interior designs that are still inspirational to this day. Secondly, there is fashion designer Tom Ford for bridging seamlessly into the world of film. And finally, I’d love to mention the late Italian architect Carlo Scarpa for effortlessly creating a sense of theatre in his spaces.”
How do you hope to see the studio grow in the future?
“We joke within the studio that one day we would have a studio by the beach and we would be sipping cocktails whilst brainstorming for projects. A studio in London also seemed a distant goal at first a while ago, so it makes me think that cocktails by the beach between sketching and meetings might just be possible. And maybe even well deserved. In five years, I would like for both my team and myself to still feel hungry for more and still be foolish.”
This interview was originally published in Imagicasa Magazine Summer 2019.
Images courtesy of Joyce Wang Studio