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An Interview With Designer Adonian Chan of Trilingua


An Interview With Designer Adonian Chan of Trilingua
Adonian Chan, designer and co-owner of Trilingua Design. Image Courtesy of the designer.

On the occasion of the upcoming Design Ambassadors' Ball, we had a little chat with Adonian Chan - a designer and co-owner of Trilingua, and this year's Ball's co-Creative Director with Andre Fu. 

Trilingua is a design studio based in Hong Kong, established in 2010 by Adonian Chan and Chris Tsui Sau Yi with the ambition of redefining Hong Kong's visual culture. Catering to not only commercial but also cultural/art groups, Trilingua design provides multi-disciplinary design services which includes branding, visual identity, environmental graphic, publication design and multimedia design. Their design style is much inspired from language, varying from the difference of cultural background and geographic region.

Keep reading to find out more about what we spoke about!

Can you tell us more about what inspired you to embark on this journey as a designer?

I studied a year of photography after graduated from high school, It was then I encountered a series of black and white Japanese poster that used only kanji. I was dazzled that the everyday written language we used could generate such simple yet powerful imagery.

You run Trilingua, a typography-based design studio in Hong Kong that provides multi-disciplinary design services. What would you say distinguishes Trilingua as a unique creative entity?

We emphasize a lot in Chinese typography, in most projects we insist in drawing our own letterings. Aside from commissioned design projects, we also do typography related installations. Whereas we begun the self initiated type design and research project "Hong Kong Bakngai Zansyu" in 2011.

"Zài" by Adonian Chan. Image Courtesy of Design Trust.

We noticed that several of Trilingua’s projects bear subtle influences of Chinese calligraphy and characters. Are there significant reasons for this?

Chinese letters are extremely intricated and profound, however in contemporary Hong Kong graphic design, Chinese letters are often disregarded as cheesy and obsolete. This is due to the difficulty for Chinese type foundry to produce new fonts (due to the immense glyph set) , as well as the lack of systematic education of Chinese typography in design institutions. We hope through research and practice, we could revive the aesthetic of Chinese typography.

Design is incorporated in every aspect of our lives and we see it all around us. In such a vibrant metropolis like Hong Kong, what is the impact of your external environment on the style and direction of your work?

The unique cityscape of Hong Kong is the sole reason that inspired me to begin the "Hong Kong Bakngai Zansyu” type design and research project - a project aims to revive and redesign Hong Kong’s unique Bakngai Zansyu signage lettering.

What are your thoughts of the Design scene in Asia in the last decade?

Japan’s design scene is without doubt the most vibrant and influential in Asia. This acheivement is a sedulous process of transforming their tradition into modern context. I guess this is the most important element for a country/region to deepen its heritage.

As one of the Creative Directors of The Ambassadors’ Ball 2017 organised by Design Trust, give us some insight into your collaboration with this meaningful platform that supports innovative investigations in design various disciplines.

My project "Hong Kong Bakngai Zansyu” is awarded by Design Trust’s seed grant. Research is crucial to enforce the foundation of a design, this funding scheme gave substantial support to Hong Kong design development.


The 10th Anniversary Ambassadors' Ball is happening on Saturday, 14 October 2017. Preview the lots going up for auction, including Adonian Chan's, here

Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.

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