For Ed Ng, “design is about living.” Ed started AB Concept in 1999 with his partner and is inspired everyday by his surroundings and his latest project.
What’s your story?
I am an interior designer with my own set of lens to explore this interesting world within my own profession.
I came to discover such nature from my youth and have gone down the path of design without hesitancy. After I graduated from the design school of Hong Kong Polytechnic University, I was involved in a design consultancy, an architect’s firm as well as being an owner’s representative, which equipped me for a different perspective for a project.
I was very blessed to have met my partner Terence Ngan later on in my path and we started AB Concept together in 1999. Since then, we have been working seamlessly on great projects such as fine dining restaurants, luxury residential and hospitality and we have been able to work on some of the most interesting projects in the region. Some of these projects include the W Hotels in Bali and Beijing and restaurants in the Four Seasons Hotels in Shanghai and London.
What excites you most about your industry?
Design is about living. Travel, dining, entertainment, pampering, shopping… All these have become a part of my career. Also, design is an ever-changing yet timeless world. It is always very interesting to look at something 10 years ago and have a totally different perspective of it when you see it again 10 years after. I think the most exciting thing about this industry is that I can be involved in creating something that is fascinating and everlasting, ultimately bringing happiness and memorable experiences to people.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I was deeply influenced by both Asian and western culture growing up, as I am born and raised in Hong Kong. Like most of the people around my age who have been brought up in Hong Kong, I am very Asian but at the same time very westernised as well. Growing up with these influences, I find it very interesting that I can easily pick up a role as a cultural translator.
This enables me to recognise and appreciate the essence of different cultures in design. I believe I could effectively match and fuse design and culture together whenever necessary and appropriate.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Some people may find it a surprise that my vote goes to Taipei, where we have decided to open our 3rd office. Culture wise, it has been strongly influenced by both Chinese and Japanese heritage. There are people with good discipline and an eagerness to learn and advance themselves. While it is also a place where people can find and enjoy the balance between work and personal life. The relatively lower cost of living among the region also nurtures an environment for creative idea’s development.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Is this already the best solution? Is there any room for improvement?”
Over the years, whenever I come up with an idea or review the design with my designers, this is the question I have been constantly asking myself again and again.
Also, when you gain experience and success, you might take some basic process for granted because you know too well of it. Having a younger talent in your team is like a rejuvenation process and serves as a constant reminder for me.
This is a two way process; I guide them through factual practice and knowhow, while they are like a window that reminds me of design fundamentals that I might have overlooked unintentionally. Plus I am sensitive to how each generation sees design through a different perspective.
Who inspires you?
Coco Chanel and Picasso. Coco Chanel because of her challenge of the norm and redefining the new aesthetic and luxury in her own league and Picasso as I have admired his lifelong passion for reinventing himself over his entire life of creation. The evolution of his work and style truly reflects how such a man lived his extraordinary life through his brushes and paints.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
During my 2nd year of my university year, I spent almost a month backpacking and travelling on buses in Turkey. Last month, we committed a new luxury hotel project in Bodrum. I am revisiting the country again and seeing the modernisation of the country, the supreme quality of new design and architecture and just breathing and taking it all in.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I think all things happen for a reason. Something may seem to be a mistake at the time, but it turns out to be an important lesson and milestone to gain a valuable experience for the next success.
Therefore, I really think that I wouldn’t do things significantly different after all. I don’t have too many big regrets that I really want to change. Of course there would be a lot of small problems that I could work pass and make even smoother. Or perhaps I could even try some new ideas for specific projects!
How do you unwind?
I keep it simple and direct. I must admit that I am one of the lucky few in that I could live and breathe a life revolving around design. I really find it hard to draw a line between work and life for me, as everything and every moment that is around all the time inspires me for my work.
The world I see and experience is filled with radiant poetry, with marvelous expression and stories everywhere. Every moment is an inspiration to me; every moment is about design in my life.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
It is hard to say there is a favorite place for relaxation. I am very blessed to have projects in many unique locations that most people consider ‘destinations.’ So, I usually try to bundle my work and holiday trips together. If I really had to pick a destination, then I would choose Kyoto. It is a city that I never tire of. I love everything about it from one of those monumental temples, to a small street in the old town. I am always able to spot something interesting and inspiring that I haven’t noticed before.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Who moved my cheese
Shameless plug for your business:
If you are interested, we can design anything and turn it into something amazing!
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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