Interior designers and architects are finding ways to maximise structures in a vibrant property market. As land remains in short supply, renovation makes the most of available space, transforming Hong Kong's landscape, interiors and commercial entities. "Take shopping malls, where architects need to look at retail space," says David R. Young, design director of Hong Kong-based Urbanprojects, an architectural and urban design company which works on large-scale design and renovation projects across Asia.
"In Hong Kong, efficiency of retail space might be higher than most places because developers want to minimise circulation and maximise space," he says.
"Escalators and atriums in malls don't actually generate revenue. What generates revenue is the retail space and now they are being renovated to squeeze in commercial value." Young cites renovation projects such as Hongkong Land's Alexandra House in Central, where walkways were added to increase the efficiency of passenger circulation to retail areas.
Property owners attempting to capitalise on space are also looking for experts in interior design and architecture that can help them economise and increase margins.
While many have responded to a market that sees dollar value in new designs, Marco Hui, design director of Hong Kong-based Soul Design Group, says that individual property investors at the low-end of the market are only interested in renovating instead of designing to provide a better margin for sale. He stresses it is largely an area that hasn't recognised interior design as an industry in its own right. "Many customers still can't distinguish between interior design and renovation," Hui says.
"Such property investors often have an old house and want to work with a low budget. They usually ask for a package," he says.
"What they ask for is a redecoration that might also involve some complex design. People should spend more on actual design work, though, if it is a home instead of a short-term investment."