Hong Kong Workspace: Culture or Clutter?

By Cimone Lam.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

For over 160 years, Hong Kong Chinese have lived in the shadow of the British colonial system but for many of the Hong Kong X-Generation the past is a dislocated and separated paradigm. As identified by commentators such as Chan, “The only indigenous form of culture that youngsters readily identify with is perhaps the dedication to pecuniary gain and a keenness to accumulate material objects of desire in place of economic, cultural and political security.” (Chan, A H, 2000, pg37)
It can be argued that it is for this reason that members of the Hong Kong X-Generation feel the need to identify themselves with the trinkets of popular culture in the few places they can mark as their own in a vast public domain, including their vehicle dashboards and individual workstations.
Studies undertaken by Wells (2000) and Wells & Thelan (2002) suggest that in American culture the personalisation of work space is an important aspect of environmental and job satisfaction. (Wells & Thelan, 2002, pg 316)
Unlike Western culture where work areas may be adorned with images of family and friends and work related paraphernalia, by contrast the Hong Kong Chinese predominantly decorate individual work areas with multiple collections of cartoon figurines and stuffed toys, normally the province of infants and children.
This paper investigates the variations of workspace personalisation for the Hong Kong Chinese and what influences the predilection for cartoon figures within their popular culture. It will consider the response of the designer in relation to personalisation, identity and workspace design and the balance of ethical and responsive practice with the employer’s value on workspace uniformity and project budget.

Keywords: Culture, Place Making, Identity, Interior Design

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp.255-262. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.142MB).

Cimone Lam

Lecturer, Louis Laybourne Smith School of Architecture and Design, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Cimone has worked throughout Asia, predominantly in Hong Kong for over 10 years as an Interior Designer. Through her award winning work with both international and local clients, and her Chinese family connections, her research interest in the area of Culture in Contemporary Interior Architecture has developed. Cimone is currently a lecturer at the Louis Laybourne Smith School of Architecture and Design at the University of South Australia, and continues to consult in interior architecture.


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