Interview with Bean Buro

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Editor Frank Scott (FS) from DesignPRWire has interviewed designer Bean Buro (BB) for A’ Design Awards and Competition. You can access the full profile of Bean Buro by clicking here.

Interview with Bean Buro at Wednesday 16th of April 2014
Bean Buro
FS: Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
BB: Born in Hong Kong, Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui is half Chinese and half Japanese. He studied architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture UCL in London, he is a UK ARB and RIBA chartered architect overlapping disciplines between practice, academia and research. As a multi-cultural designer, Kenny has been actively engaged in the creative British design industry, specialised in the exchanges between international innovations, cross cultural narratives, and technological developments for the built environment. Born in Paris, Lorène Faure is a fully qualified French DESA (hmonp) architect and UK ARB RIBA architect. She studied under British renowned architect/critic Sir Peter Cook at Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris, where she graduated with honours and was shortlisted for the prestigious RIBA President's Silver Medal. Lorène's talent in producing inventive drawings has been a key driving force to her workplace and personal exploration in art and architecture. Both Kenny and Lorene have always wanted to become a designer because from a young age, they were both inspired by the highly cultivated arts environment cities such as London, Paris, Hong Kong and Japan.

FS: Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
BB: The studio is an inter-disciplinary architectural design practice led by Lorène Faure and Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui, with a network of British and international collaborators to providing architecture, interior, installation, furniture and product design services. The diversity of the practice with its collaborators reinforces a core vision for the practice: to respond to the exchanges of global cultural narratives, incorporating overlapping design disciplines specializing in the social, economical and political production of urban spaces.

FS: What is "design" for you?
BB: We believe architecture is an emotional, spatial experience constructed by both the user and the author. Our design methodologies stem from the observation, speculation and analysis of contextual narratives. These narratives, or ‘stories’, generate dynamic exchanges of historical, environmental, cultural and social factors, resulting in highly inventive interventions while preserving plenty of intellectual wit.

FS: What kinds of works do you like designing most?
BB: We enjoy a diversity of works, from architecture, to installation, furniture and products for clients who may require tentative and fresh ideas to improve their commercial, offices and hospitality spaces. We love to infuse plenty of humour and wit in our works, while keeping function and aesthetics balanced. We love to respond to cultures and traditions to generate designs that are humanistic. We love to infuse technology in a subtle manner that does not over take the poetic experience of a space.

FS: What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
BB: We love British designs, especially when used in the oriental context, because there is always a bit of misinterpretations in the translations of exchanges between the preconceived and the unexpected. Subtle concepts may sometimes be interpreted for all the wrong reasons, but we love such in-between conditions. After all designs are all to be experienced and humane. We love designs that are fresh, simple, and legible. We love designs that create surprises through the discoveries of subtle technological insertions.

FS: What was the first thing you designed for a company?
BB: The first thing Bean Buro designed was the Boathouse Home Office project for a private client and the office refurbishment for Cheil Hong Kong, a creative agency in Hong Kong.

FS: What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
BB: Bean Buro works with the latest design design and fabrication techniques such as 3D modelling, CAD/CAM technologies such as rapid prototyping, laser cutting, 3D scanning, etc. We like to explore the potential of material, and push the boundaries of fabrication; at the moment we are enjoying working with steamed bent plywood for an artistic installation project.

FS: When do you feel the most creative?
BB: We feel the most creative when we are researching, listening to music, and when see exhibitions of other disciplines.

FS: Which aspects of a design do you focus more during designing?
BB: We focus more on the experiential aspects of the design more during designing, for example what and how is the design represented, communicated and expressed? How does the design answer its own brief? How does it further contribute to the deepening of the various aspects that started it in the first place? How does it open up more questions?

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
BB: Passion, excitement, anticipation.

FS: What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
BB: Joy!

FS: What makes a design successful?
BB: Further to the design meeting our ethos at Bean Buro and answers the client’s brief well, we also ensure we add a designer’s ‘tweak’ to the design to ensure it is aesthetical and non-generic.

FS: When judging a design as good or bad, which aspects do you consider first?
BB: Its method of communication and how the concepts are represented.

FS: From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
BB: We believe designers have a huge responsibility in creating experiences that feels are emotional and enjoyable, which would in turn increase the productivity of the users activities. We also believe we can use design to question and aid many aspects of the social, political and economical development of our urban environment. At Bean Buro we believe in high social responsibility standards, and provides dedicate works with sincere desire and integrity, as well as maintaining social relations. We dedicate to provide the best works to the society and dedicate the best products to our clients.

FS: How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
BB: Through the development of communication technologies, where ideas are exchanged in the most rapid manner than ever before, the general field of design is getting broader yet in some cases, sadly more generic. The future of design may have a generally higher quality of production due to the increased sharing of knowledge over the field, however it may also result in a global reference library of commonly preconceived ‘good’ designs. This would call for more research in the exchanges between the local and the foreign, investigated the blurring boundaries between local traditions and globalised ideas. Only a small amount of designers may be cautious enough to deal with such conundrums while others may learn the responsibilities to engage with it. Designers are getting more specialized, but also calls for more multidisciplinary collaborations at the same time.

FS: When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
BB: Bean Buro is a new company and its projects have not yet been exhibited. Bean Buro would love to collaborate with curators for opportunities.

FS: Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
BB: Bean Buro has an extensive library, both on contemporary design ideas and on traditional western and oriental designs. Of course, our ‘daily dose’ also comes from online architecture platforms.

FS: How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
BB: We do not believe in generic styles or stylistic approaches that are merely fashionable, because a good design is organic and reacts to the specific conditions of contextual forces, which means it is always highly varied. Bean stands for Between Exchanges of Architectural Narratives, because our practice is believes that architecture is an emotional, spatial experience constructed by both the user and the author. The notion of ‘narratives’, or ‘stories’ is the driving force behind our designs. Bean Buro is also developing its expertise in cross cultural designs and aims to become a leader in the contemporary field of architectural designs; fusing traditions with contemporary ideas in sync with the global development of the design industry.

FS: Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
BB: After having lived in London and Paris for many years, we are now relocated to live and work in Hong Kong to further our passion in the production of architectural designs. Hong Kong already has a developed history of being receptive to new western ideas, which matches up perfectly with Bean Buro’s unique cross cultural design expertise with a European background. The environment is fertile with the developing cities in China, which is in close proximity to HK. We believe we have a lot to offer in HK and Chinese cities. China is also seeking influences from the West and developing new international designs, and we believe that our passion, knowledge and skills can be put to good use there.

FS: How do you work with companies?
BB: We always work very closely with companies to explore the brief together, and we often curate a series of design workshops using illustrated ideas in forms of drawings and/or models to engage the people of the companies to develop the research into initial concepts, and through an iterative process of thinking and critical analysis of empirical data, final proposals can be reached that should respond to its brief. We enjoy to work in a team for a mutually beneficial experience.

FS: Can you talk a little about your design process?
BB: We use the drawing as the main medium to explore concepts and design. The drawing can be made using digital or analogue techniques, and allowing various ideas to be tested and critically questioned. Our expertise in drawing has recently been featured in a design book called ‘Drawing, The Motive Force of Architecture’ by Sir Peter Cook, published by Wiley 2014.

FS: What was your most important job experience?
BB: Kenny worked in London between 2003-2013, he worked on various award winning projects as a project architect at Urban Salon Architects, and as an architectural assistant at Richard Rogers Partnership, before setting up Bean Buro in Hong Kong. Lorène worked in London between 2008-2013, she was an associate and senior designer for CRAB studio (Cook Robotham Architectural Bureau) and architectural assistant at Yael Reisner studio, before setting up Bean Buro in Hong Kong.

FS: Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
BB: Bean Buro is lead by co-founding directors Lorene Faure & Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui. Whilst each project usually has a leading entity, the works are always a result of a tight collaboration between them and their team. Within the practice we are also developing a multidisciplinary research driven platform called COLLABean. This is a network of highly reputable designers, academicians and researchers in the design field, many of whom we had collaborated previously in London, we aim to consistently explore industry innovations and apply new knowledge and skills into our projects in architecture, interior, installation, furniture and product design.

FS: How can people contact you?
BB: People can contact us via our email :, by visiting our website , or by phone +852 2420 7200.

FS: Thank you for providing us with this opportunity to interview you.

A’ Design Award and Competitions grants rights to press members and bloggers to use parts of this interview. This interview is provided as it is; DesignPRWire and A' Design Award and Competitions cannot be held responsible for the answers given by participating designers.

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