Trilingua is a Hong Kong based design studio, with a specialism in Chinese typography and design. Design style, like language, varies from the difference of cultural background and geographic region. Through the ambition of redefining Hong Kong visual culture, designer Adonian Chan and Chris Tsui Sau Yi established Trilingua design in 2010. Trilingua emphasise on every project’s intrinsic essence, and through these understanding we choose the most suitable design language and medium to deliver the essence of message. Trilingua provides multi-disciplinary design services, including branding, visual identity, environmental graphic, publication design and multimedia design. We speak to Adonian Chan on his perspective about Hong Kong’s emerging design scene.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Where did you grow up and what inspired you to be a designer?
I was born and raised in Hong Kong. I studied photography for a year then moved onto Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s BA in Visual Communication Design. My interests in visual design are inspired by the aesthetics and functionality of Han characters.
You run a typography-based design studio called Trilingua. How did Trilingua start and what kind of work do you do?
Trilingua was founded right after my graduation, from Polytechnic University with my classmate, Chris Tsui. We provide various design services such as visual identity, publication design, web design but our main speciality is in Chinese lettering. In recent years, we put an emphasis on the research and design of “Hong Kong Beiwei Kaishu”; which is a unique type design style that was invented in Qing Dynasty and passed onto the tradition of Hong Kong.
What do you feel is the most exciting thing happening in the Hong Kong art and design scene?
My perspective is that the Hong Kong cultural sphere has begun to appreciate more about Chinese characters and design. After the Umbrella Movement, many artists and designers have begun to question how their vocation could contribute to the development of community and society. Design should no longer be something that’s merely aesthetically appealing and only serving for commercial ends.
As a Hong Kong designer, what has influenced you most about living here?
I learnt most by observing the old calligraphy signs on street that evolved my research and designs of “Hong Kong Beiwei Kaishu”. On the other hand, it is also the hopeless political environment that compels me to counteract in cultural means, also to constantly self-examine the value of my own work.
Have you got any exciting projects coming up in 2015 that you can tell us about?
I have founded a restaurant with my band “tfvsjs”. The restaurant called “tfvsjs.syut”, is just two minutes from my design studio in Kwun Tong Industrial district. Although it is a restaurant, my plan is to make use of the space for cultural activities. One of the main events is a regular design seminar featuring prominent Hong Kong designers for sharing and discussion. The intention is to cultivate in-depth design thinking and to question the essence of what is “Hong Kong design”? Hopefully at the end I would be able to compile all the seminars into a book.
What has been one of your favourite print based projects?
The brochure and poster for sound art organisation “Sound Pocket” is one of my favourites. It was done with a printing budget constraint; which compelled us to maximise the possibility of black and white printing with typographical expression.
What do you love doing outside of your design work?
I don’t have much entertainment. All I do apart from work is practice Chinese calligraphy and write music for my band “tfvsjs”.