Hong Kong is a place brimming with talented and intriguing people. In our weekly 27 Questions column, we get up close and personal with the city’s notable personalities, learning about their whims and aversions, pivotal life moments, and hopes and dreams — all in roughly the same amount of time it takes to sit through a 2-minute speed date.

In this week’s edition of 27 Questions we speak with Caroline Chou, Design Director of award-winning interdisciplinary firm OPENUU. Originally born in Texas, Chou spent her early years shuttling between Taiwan and the U.S. — where she later went on to study architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design. Along with husband (and OPENUU founder) Kevin Lim, Chou has become something of a marquee name on the burgeoning Hong Kong design/architecture scene. Since Chou and Lim moved their business to Hong Kong in 2012, OPENUU has been awarded ‘Best of Year’ firm by Interior Design Magazine four times; and bagged the prestigious Will Ching Design Prize this April — awarded for ‘original and excellent’ design by small companies with up to five employees.

Caroline Chou

Deeply invested in crafting personable, irreverent spaces which foster a wider sense of place — whether that be irreverent F&B outlets like Mean Noodles or a full-scale boutique hotel — it’s little wonder that Chou’s practice has developed a reputation for its uncanny ability to engage both clients and members of the public. Amidst her busy schedule, we sat down with the 35-year old architect (and mother of one) to discuss slightly more light-hearted matters, ranging from her love of white truffle pasta to the summer she interned at Sina.

Name: Caroline Chou Lim
Age: 35

Neighbourhood: Happy Valley

Occupation: Designer

1. What is your life motto?

“Never give up, there’s always a solution.”

2. What is the best meal you've ever eaten in Hong Kong?

The Alba truffle pasta at Otto e Mezzo Bombana.

3. What was your first job?

A summer internship at Sina.

4. What is your drink of choice?

Lime soda.

5. When was the last time you drove a car?

Usually [my husband] Kevin drives, so it’s been a while.

Caroline Chou
Caroline with her husband, and OPENUU founder Kevin Lim (pictured). (Image source: Zolima City Magazine)
6. What is the best thing in or about your apartment?

The fact that we designed!

7. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Grilled cheese.

8. What is your biggest regret in life?

Not studying abroad during college.

9. What do you hate most about living in Hong Kong?

There’s always too much going on: I often find myself triple booked, and it’s hard to schedule meet-ups with other people.

10. What is the top destination on your bucket list?

Cuba.

11. How often do you prepare your own meals?

Breakfast a few times a week. I’m not much of a cook, so breakfast is probably the most I can do.

12. What is your greatest fear?

Anything bug-related, especially cockroaches.

Caroline Chou
OPENUU is a firm favourite among boutique retail clients, such as sustainable luxury brand Ril Creed (storefront pictured).
13. What is your biggest guilty pleasure?

Watching Marvel films.

14. What is one one movie everyone should see?

A Star is Born.

15. Which moment in your life would you most like to relive?

Going to college again, and only having to worry about which classes to take.

16. If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

French Polynesia — I’d go scuba diving literally all the time.

17. What makes someone a real Hongkonger?

A love of good food and a hard work ethic.

Caroline Chou
The offices of Art Basel Hong Kong, designed by OPENUU.
18. If you could invite any five people in the world to your dream dinner party, who would they be?

José Andrés, Grant Achatz, Norman Foster, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec.

19. What is one song you know all the lyrics to?

Basically anything by Jay Chou.

20. If you had to describe Hong Kong in one word, what would it be?

“Eclectic”.

21. What's your favourite childhood memory?

Me and my brother walking home from school together.

22. What is one thing you've never revealed to your parents?

I hid my mid-term report cards!

23. What is your favourite scent in the whole world?

Lemongrass.

24. Are you a good cook? What is your best dish?

I can’t cook to save my life! That said, I bake a pretty good chocolate chip cookie.

25. Who is the best teacher you've ever had, what is one important lesson that they taught you?

My high school mathematics teacher, Mrs. Cox. She taught me that if you have a multi-step system for solving problems, then even something like calculus can be easy.

Caroline Chou
One of OPENUU’s newer hotel projects, located in Tin Hau.
26. How many pairs of shoes do you currently own? Which do you wear the most often?

Around 25, though I usually wear my white canvas Toms.

27. How many countries have you been to?

Probably over 20. But Kevin and I do hope to visit more!

You can follow OPENUU on Instagram or visit their website here

Randy Lai
Watches Editor
Having worked in the Australian digital media landscape for over 5 years, Randy has extensive experience in men's specialist categories such as classic clothing, watches and spirits. He is partial to mid-century chronographs and a nice chianti.