Architects and interior designers have a unique opportunity to bring their visions to life. However, it doesn’t stop there. Realized on the grandest scale, an architect’s creation can go one step further and become a new standard from which others will launch their own dreams.
It’s therefore crucial that such designers find the right outlet for their creativity. When architect Johnny Li finished his training in Edinburgh and returned to Hong Kong two decades ago, there were several avenues open to him, but only one offered the kind of creative freedom he sought.
"At AB Concept, we pride ourselves on combining rigor with warmth in our designs. We don’t simply provide solutions; we aim to create emotional journeys within our projects," Li tells The CEO Magazine.
AB Concept has a unique approach toward design philosophy, distinct from designers who may rely on a recognizable style. Each project is viewed as an opportunity to tell a distinct story, with the team delving deeply into the local culture, history and heritage of the project’s location.
"It’s different from what I’ve worked with before," Li says.
"As one of the three principals at AB Concept, I work in collaboration with the two founders, one of whom is an interior designer, and the other an architect. As such, my specific area of focus lies in the realm of architectural design to create spatial designs that strike a perfect balance between interior and architecture."
We don’t simply provide solutions; we aim to create emotional journeys within our projects.
It’s a radical concept that’s hard to put into words, but Li explains it well.
"I liken the process of designing interiors to that of designing a streetscape, where buildings are just one aspect of the overall space. It is always very important to visualize the spatial arrangement holistically."
When AB Concept was formed in Hong Kong, it was done with hotels top of mind. That hasn’t changed; some of the firm’s biggest clients include Marriott, Four Seasons and Hilton.
"They brought us to different parts of the world," Li says. "And we’ve become quite international. Along the way, we keep modifying our vision."
In that way the AB team’s work has become more than even spatial design.
"We design for experience and memory together. In every project we ask ourselves two questions: How do we want people to feel? What will be remembered from this experience an hour, a day, a week and a year later?"
It’s reached a point where Li and company have coined a new term to describe their work.
"We take pride in being cultural partners with our clients, striving to help them grow their business through design," Li says. "Unlike some designers who only focus on the aesthetics, we understand the importance of balancing design with business objectives."
We are committed to creating designs that work in favor of our clients, and we are interested in what design can do, not just what it looks like.
AB Concept’s projects become long-term exercises in brand building.
"Four Seasons Hong Kong is a bustling city hotel situated in the heart of one of the busiest cities in the world. W Algarve is a stunning seaside resort perched on the coast of Algarve. By delving into the core essence of each brand and considering the unique requirements of the location, we were able to create designs that truly capture the spirit of each property," he explains.
Li says that a clear vision helps clients achieve exactly the look and feel they desire. "We are way more than just a service provider. We are committed to creating designs that work in favor of our clients, and we are interested in what design can do, not just what it looks like."
It comes down to trust, support, creativity and time. When all of those elements align, we can come up with a part of the world that’s new and unique.
Another recent project, the K11 MUSEA in Hong Kong, challenged even AB Concept’s designers with its bold ideas.
"They told us straight up, ‘we don’t want to call it a shopping mall’," Li recalls. "They wanted it to be a gallery with a shopping facility. They wanted to promote art and culture as a part of living, integrating them into the entire project."
In just a few years, K11 MUSEA has become one of Hong Kong’s top destinations – a vision of extravagance that demands to be seen.
"It comes down to trust, support, creativity and time. When all of those elements align, we can come up with a part of the world that’s new and unique," Li says.