Jason Carlow is the founder and director of Hong Kong based C;A+D Carlow Architecture and Design. He is currently creating a stir at the Venice Biennale (August 29th – November 21st) where he is showcasing his plans for a residential skyscraper façade. Previous projects have seen him exhibiting at HK/Shenzhen Expo and renovating a designer pad in mid-levels, Hong Kong.
‘I’ve always been passionate about making things. My Dad was a woodworker and a teacher so I spent my childhood helping him out. I was always going to be a designer of some sort.
‘Alongside architecture, I teach at HK university. I get a kick out of doing both things at once. In HK students don’t tend to work with their hands – there is a kind of snobbery about manual work. I enjoy making that a part of the learning experience, it’s the best way to learn.
‘I find Hong Kong unique in that it is a hugely inspirational city made up of largely uninspiring buildings. The treats are to be found in between the buildings, down the tiny cramped alleyways and in the city’s buzzing atmosphere.
‘I think Shanghai is one of the most exciting cities architecturally. There’s so much history there, so many art deco buildings. My favourite is the 1933 – an old slaughterhouse that’s been converted from an abbatoir into an arts hub.
‘I would love the chance to design more projects on a larger scale; such as towers or civic buildings like schools or museums. I’m also working on a plan to design and produce a line of ecologically sustainable furniture.
‘My ideal home is relatively simple. It’s minimal, but comfortable. It’s open, with spaces that flow into one another. I enjoy life when living, cooking, eating and entertaining can happen in the same space.
C:A+D Carlow Architecture and Design
6 Wilmer Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
HK: +852-6690-4595 USA: +347-284-6644
The life and times of the quirky founder of Hong Kong lifestyle brand GOD.
“I’m not a morning person so I get up around 9am and then head straight to Starbucks for a double espresso. It’s not because I go out the night before – I’ve never really been really into partying – it’s just that I find it hard to switch off when I get home… and I recently got a Kindle, which has been keeping me up at night as there’s so much to read.
Once I’ve got into our office and checked my emails, we’ll have a team brainstorming session with my in-house designers where we go around the table each presenting new designs and concepts and get feedback on current projects -everyone expresses their opinions so these session can last a while. But I’m the leader who ties everybody together. This means we have a unified concept but as I’ve become a boss, I’ve found it harder and harder to get honest feedback on my own work.
I try to make time every day to escape to my studio, close the door and work on my own designs –for me that’s what this is all about – I feel so lucky that I get such enjoyment out of making a living so it’s important to me to keep a hand in the creative side of the business as we grow.
The medium for my design is different every day, sometimes I’ll use my paintbrushes; sometimes it will be blocks of wood and other times I’ll be sat on the computer. I like to push myself to try different creative outlets. Right now I am trying my hand at writing and am attempting to write a novel- I don’t know if its any good but I’m enjoying the creative process.
New ideas tend to just come to me. The more I try to think about it, the less they come to me. It’s almost like an antenna for me – I just keep my antenna out for ideas as I walk around the city and often I’ll email myself a thought from my blackberry. I guess you could say Hong Kong is my main source of inspiration. I could be driving through the streets and see some laundry hanging out of an elaborate building and that will give me an idea for a handbag.
When my business partner, Ben and I launched G.O.D. we always had an ambition to build a Hong Kong brand and our mission hasn’t changed as the company has grown. We have many brands that originate in Hong Kong but hardly any of them are honest about their origins or culture. I don’t understand that and I don’t think it’s ethical. Who are you trying to deceive? I think it’s the colonial mindset because as colonial subjects we were brought up to think that European or British culture is superior so conversely, our own culture was inferior or not worth keeping.
I think I’m a hybrid. I’m a local and a foreigner at the same time [Douglas was educated in the UK]. I can certainly see things from a local perspective, but I also have the freshness of a foreign pair of eyes. So I see the peculiarities that local people are probably immune to, because they’ve been numbed. At the same time, I can also understand the real meaning or significance of local indigenous culture.
When I’m not designing, I like to meet new, emerging talent – it could be a new photographer, an artist or a designer. I like the fact we can help emerging talent in Hong Kong get recognised and build their profile. I also work on a lot of collaborations that get the G.O.D brand out into the international market. I leave the office around 7pm and head out to dinner or go home to relax. I don’t usually drink during the week but every night I will have a cigar and sit down to write before I go to sleep.