The designers behind this dynamic, Hong Kong-based studio speak to Marta Catalan Eraso about generating new ideas, hand-drawing and more.
Pictured above is Bean Buro’s Wan Chai workspace
Bean Buro brings a breath of fresh air to the field of design. Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui and Lorène Faure are the brains behind this young architectural practice; both trained in Europe and worked in London for a few years before bringing their know-how to Hong Kong.
The studio’s name nicely sums up the designers’ approach to the projects they take on. Bean stands for Between Exchanges of Architectural Narratives, as they believe ideas are dynamically generated on the complex threshold of exchanges. For each of their projects, they come up with imaginary stories or protagonists, and this allows them to explore the ideal user experience. Here, Kinugasa-Tsui (KKT) and Lorène Faure (LF) tell us some of their personal stories….
What are some of the challenges you have faced in the transition from Europe to Asia?
LF: When we moved to Hong Kong, we realised the design culture here is different – clients have different priorities, often driven by time and cost, sometimes compromising on quality, which in turn could restrict creative development. However, we have been very lucky, attracting wonderful clients who understand our approach.
What characteristics do your projects have in common?
KKT: We are passionate about how ideas are generated uniquely and consistently, in a way that does not produce generic styles but that allows for variety. That means each of our projects, whatever its scale or function, goes through the same process whereby we observe, question, develop, interrogate and refine.
Your projects have a sense of calm and warmth to them that is hard to find in a city like Hong Kong. How do you imbue them with this architectural mood?
LF: Our designs are driven by our poetic interpretation of the context; for example, our residential design titled Boathouse for a French Couple is located next to the sea in Aberdeen, where the space is light filled with reflections of the water. This immediately sparked the idea of the seafront architecture of Brittany in France, where many wooden houses are painted in blue in response to the environmental atmosphere. In our design, we have the juxtaposition of a dynamic curvy blue wall that weaves through the apartment’s minimalistic timber finishes.
Also, in our workplace design for Leo Burnett, we found inspiration in historical shipping and mechanical construction in Kwun Tong. This resulted in a sculptural reception area and meeting volumes that are constructed entirely using woodwork.
Can you tell us more about how you use personal and handcrafted architectural drawings in your office?
KKT: We come from a culture that’s highly focused on drawing as the motive force of architecture, from sketching by hand to digital representations as hybridised realms. Recently our mentors Professor Sir Peter Cook [co-founder of Archigram, director of CRAB Studio] and Professor Marcos Cruz [The Bartlett School of Architecture] discussed this topic extensively during a public seminar at the RIBA in London. Some of our works were featured in the seminar; they used them in the presentation as examples of the architectural drawing as a speculative tool. Much of this passion is the driving force behind Bean Buro and we continue to use drawings to explore our discipline, through our research and live projects.
What are you working on right now?
LF: We’re working on a new workplace concept for Uber, a refurbishment for Kerry Logistics’s headquarters, a clubhouse and residential roll out for Nan Fung Group, a shopping mall refurbishment at APM, a new co-working office design in collaboration with branding consultant Substance and the world famous botanist Patrick Blanc, as well as a number of private residential projects for expatriates.
All images courtesy of Bean Buro.