Where WE Are: Yuen Yeung Showroom

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Photos courtesy of Dennis Wong

It’s been some time since I knew Dennis Wong, an out-and-out artist and photographer whose life is all about colours and creations. Born in Guangzhou and brought up in Shamshuipo, the grass-root area of Hong Kong, Wong is a down-to-earth kind of creator that finds values and beauty from everyday objects and scenes (See our Street Sleepers series featured in Liberty Issue and you will see). Besides photography and installations, he has been making playful furniture with local characters for some time under Yuen Yeung, which he founded with interior designer Patricia Choi. Making innovative use of humble objects that best represent the old Hong Kong style, like old Chinese signs, plastic sifters, stools that our grandmas used to get from the general stores, bamboo sticks, Yuen Yeung challenges the status quo that design is about rising high in values; it is about representing cultures and YY is the new creative force representing Hong Kong. Now the sought-after studio is opening the curtain of its new showroom, which back to the artist’s origin, settles in a tong lao (old Chinese building) in Sham Shui Po.

Showcasing a new light from Dutch collaborator, Sjors van Buyten, YY transformed an old barber perm machine into a unique adjustable wall lamp. It was found in an old Shanghai-styled barber shop in Kowloon city. The arms were still in mint condition and we polished the lamp into something quite unexpected. YY has kept all the signs and logo behind the rusted surface and the light switch makes a vintage “ting” sound when you turn it on.

The same methodology has been applied on the interior design within this authentic 1960s’ tong lao. Most of the timber used is from materials we dismantled from the flat and we try to give you a sense of its history from wall textures to colours. Together with its lovely original ceramic floor tiles,  high ceiling which allows a tree house to grow, the artists try to capture the essence of our Hong Kong from found objects such as the  Kowloon Dairy milk bottle and wok purchased from the nearby night market. The new space also features a series of new objects transforming their original function – a local pragmatism constantly inspiring yy.

WE also had a chat with Dennis Wong:

How did you come to be an artist / photographer?

I never define myself as an artist or photographer, because I don’t want to stay in the box. I knew what I loved to do when I was in the primary school, but then was kind of lost through the high school years. My father used to have a very old 135 and 110 cameras and I would borrow them, and that’s how I fell in love with photography. Five years ago I was a full-time watch designer. But then I met some artist friends at Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre, and started to live the way I do now.

How would you describe your style? 

I love colourful things, and I wear a lot of colours. From day to day I see a lot of colours, and their boundless combinations are spectacular to me. So what I do is to record them. Who knows if I would go black and white one day.

Everyday objects are important elements of your work, why?

Every object, everything, means something to someone. Time changes the way we look at things. How we see things now is very different from how our early ancestors did. Perhaps because I grew up in Shamshuipo and Guangzhou, I am used to those ‘low’ or even ‘neglected’ objects, and I grew to love them. Who knows they would be valuable one day.

P.S. In case you are interested, the very Hong Kong-style lamps are HKD$500 each. I told him it’s going to be his icon; he said maybe no one is interested. Well, what do you say?

Yuen Yeung 

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