Co-founder and Executive Director, Design Trust
The designer is a driving force and advocate for Hong Kong's design community at large
Marisa Yiu describes herself as a “perpetual optimist”. “No matter how challenging or potentially difficult something could be, I always see the brighter side of that particular moment,” she says. She’s made the most of the pandemic era and appreciated its unexpected benefits: “I actually really like the clarity and efficiency of the virtual environment,” she says. “People are more focused.”
An architect and designer by profession, Yiu runs architectural design and research studio Eskyiu with husband and fellow architect Eric Schuldenfrei. She is also the co-founder and executive director of non-profit grant-funding platform Design Trust. In April 2021, Futures Studio, a think tank led by Design Trust, unveiled the redesigned Yi Pei Square in Tsuen Wan, which is comprised of a brightly coloured playground that acts as much as a “communal living room” for nearby residents as it does an area for children to run around in. Then in September came a fuchsia “micropark” at Portland Street Rest Garden in Mong Kok. It transformed the previously unassuming spot into a brightly coloured, inviting space. The project is part of a series that reimagines the use of four government-run public spaces across Hong Kong. The remaining two microparks are expected to be unveiled towards the end of 2022.
This year, under the Design Trust banner, Yiu also organised exhibitions and dialogues at M+ and the Hong Kong Palace Museum to further the understanding between the discipline of design and the environments in which we inhabit.
Because Yiu has often been inspired by mentors and former professors, she hopes to continue to nurture young talent herself and participate in a “cultural, educational and experimental dialogue”, saying, “I think that’s always been my spirit.”
“A few years ago, there was a lot of discussion about micro-apartments and the phenomenon of shrinking apartment sizes, so with Hong Kong facing a lot of pressure in terms of space and density, how can we balance that with shared public space? How can we think about the city as our living room and be more creative with our parks?”
Did You Know?
Made of pool blue, marigold and maize terrazzo, The Communal Living Room in Yi Pei Square Playground transformed a space that was marred by violence during the 2019 protests into a vibrant micro-park with slides for children and sitting-out areas for adults. It’s the first of many micro parks Marisa Yiu and Design Trust Futures Studio’s Play is for the People programme hopes to overhaul.