Doing what you love is the best (and most rewarding) formula for success and it’s something that Ruth Chao, creative director, and Antonia Li, director of business development, have proved with their creative design agency, Indicube, which launched in April last year.
Stepping into their office in Sheung Wan, we are immediately greeted by a selection of cool artwork and prints — a perfect foil for the graphics and artwork they create at Indicube.
“[At Indicube] we do a lot of branding and marketing collaterals such as logos, name cards, websites, apps, packaging, invitations and the design of corporate identities,” explained Chao. “We like to think of things as more than just what you see. We like to add something a little different or more engaging so that it really makes an impact.”
In just over a year, they’ve worked with the likes of Hong Kong Jockey Club, New World Development, Hypebeast, Mr Porter and Estee Lauder and are bringing an incredibly fresh perspective back to Hong Kong and beyond.
After studying psychology at the University of Bristol, Chao spent some time at British Vogue before returning to Hong Kong and getting the chance to work with Hong Kong film editor, art director and costume and production designer, William Chang Suk-Ping — who is also known for his collaborations with Wong Kar-wai, someone Chao has always been inspired by.
Chao chats to us about Indicube’s creative vision and what it takes to succeed and stay relevant in Hong Kong in our latest Tastemakers column:
When I was growing up… I was originally going to go into medicine but I always took photographs on the side. It was something that I really liked and enjoyed and I soon realised I would spend hours and hours trying to create my own thing creatively.
Studying consumer psychology… really helped me learn a lot about graphics. We did all these studies where you’d take a circle, for example, and use these machines to see how your eye changes and moves if you enlarged it or made it smaller.
The best thing I learned from British Vogue… was respect and dedication. They would basically lay out the whole magazine and they really cared about every single page. They would do calligraphy and scan it back in just for a title on that particular page. It was probably like an hour’s worth of work but it’s that commitment that I really respect.
I came back to Hong Kong… because there’s a lot of undiscovered areas in the creative field and a lot of hands-on opportunities.
Indicube’s design philosophy… is a little bit more lifestyle. Ultimately we want our style to be a set standard rather than being confined to certain aesthetics. So even if you want something very lavish, something in black and gold or in clean white, it’ll be given to you at a high standard rather than some sort of standard style. We like our designs to be a blend of function and of-the-moment trends but still timeless and fresh.
I find inspiration from… movies and music and in a way I think all these areas are actually linked. You might see awesome styling in a fashion shoot and get inspired by the colours and it might come back out on another day when you’re working on a project. I like In the Mood for love and vintage or arthouse films like 12 Angry Men, Pulp Fiction, Death in Venice, The Graduate and Amelie.
Making it in Hong Kong… you need to constantly push boundaries and do something that’s really different and to really just have fun whilst working hard.
The key to success… is to have the right frame of mind, a ton of belief and stamina and loving what you do.
My favourite brands… in terms of design, are Bang & Olufsen, they’re very clean and Celine and Diptyque.
I’m currently working on… a project with The Hong Kong Jockey Club to design collaterals for their loyalty programme, packaging for Hypebeast’s store, HBX, invitation design for Mr Porter for an event coming up soon, and websites for New World Development’s ‘Artisanal Movement’. We also just finished designing marketing materials for Estée Lauder’s Customer Relationship Management programme for their VIPs in China.
Photography by: Claudia Lee