1. Tell us about yourself, how and why did you start streetsignhk?
We’re the founders of streetsignhk, Kevin and Ken, and we are both architects by profession. The starting point of Streetsignhk was a moment when we came across a demolished pawn shop sign on a street. We then started noticing the disappearing of signboards from the streets which led to a rapid change in the iconic Hong Kong streetscape. Later we found out the reason behind is related to a building regulation that came into effect in 2009, which deemed all existing signboards as an illegal structure that needs to be taken down upon order from authorities. We hope to use our professional background to help signboard owners, for example, to explore possibilities of preserving their signboard when they received demolition orders. On the other hand, we promote the values of signboard, including calligraphy, through social media and exhibitions, hoping to raise public awareness in signboard preservation.
2. What is the vision of streetsignhk?
streetsignhk promotes the values of signboard streetscape in Hong Kong. There have been common conceptions and concerns that signboards are potential hazards, and the reaction from the government through regulation is single-sided focused on signboard dimensions and structure while ignoring the historic, cultural, and aesthetic values of signboards. We hope to promote a sustainable environment that balances the two, where well maintained existing signboards can be preserved on the streets and safety concerns of new signboards are assured by the new regulation.
3. What are the biggest challenges in preserving street signs in Hong Kong?
It is a race against time. As the regulation came into effect, it is really a matter of time until all the old signboards we are familiar with disappear from the streets. That is why on one hand we see an urge to educate the shop owners & public on the aesthetics, cultural & historical values of old signs before they are all gone- on the other hand also look into promoting the construction of new signboards that resemble these values through legal means.
4. How did you come up with the idea of collaborating with Callisupply for the pop-up exhibition?
Calligraphy is one of the values that are encapsulated on signboards, in the old days the whole process of signboard making starts with handwritten characters. Callisupply and streetsignhk have been following each other’s work on Instagram and we share common interest in signboards, and we hit it off right away when Sam invited us to co-organize an exhibition about calligraphy and signboards!
5. What do you think about The Nate?
We love the exhibition space and Nate’s idea of introducing a space for local artists into the serviced apartment. Whether you are staying as a local or visitor, The Nate will be a gateway for you to know more about the culture of Hong Kong right at the centre of Kowloon area.
6. If you were staying at The Nate, which studio would you like to stay?
Studio with Balcony! We always like a bit of outdoor space, perfect to wind down at night watching the city’s awesome streetscape