‘When you collect, you have a whole encyclopaedia of knowledge in your hand’
~ Alan Chan, Hong Kong designer and tastemaker.
Over his 50-year career, Hong Kong-born Alan Chan has made his mark internationally not only as a designer, but also branding tastemaker, artist, curator and collector. Although Chan never attended university and never trained as a designer, he retains that zeal and rigorousness of an arbiter of taste. His design work carries the imprint of a well-rounded and accomplished collector, a skill that has garnered Chan has numerous awards. In an interview of why and what he collects, Chan has this to say:
“… art appreciation is a continuous passion and device to prompt my creative thinking process in order to come up with new and inspired designs or works. This is the reason I have not stopped collecting. There are indeed too many great works, and except for a few favourite artists like Alexander Calder, Henry Moore, Marc Quinn, Ju Ming and Sanyu who have a consistent appeal to me, I never stop collecting art objects of other varieties. All my collections resonate in a way that they give me creative inspiration from their forms, materials or ideas, and it could be anything like old Japanese bento boxes or tea wares. As much as they take a very simple form, they show delicate craftsmanship and carry the essence of culture which makes them classic product designs.”
Space 27, in Hong Kong’s Quarry Bay, is Alan Chan’s loft-turned-private museum, filled with 400 art objects from his wildly eclectic collection. The apartment was purchased about 30 years ago when Chan bought two floors of a 1950s-era industrial space in Quarry Bay, which he rented out until seven years ago when he took it back to give the space a badly-needed overhaul. Post-renovation, a white-walled, cement-floored loft emerged looking like a chic New York art gallery space. He named it Space 27 (27 being his lucky number) and rented it out to high-end brands such as Marc Jacobs, Chanel and Celine for functions.
When Chan turned 70 on January 27th, 2020, he felt he should celebrate 50 years in the creative industry and the 40th anniversary of Alan Chan Design Company. So he turned Space 27 into a private museum party with about 400 of his collectible pieces on display. He wanted his guests to see what he was – “ Not only a designer but an artist, a collector, a creator.” Which is how Space 27 came to be transformed into what his press release terms a “Chamber of Art and Curiosities”, a Hong Kong version of a cabinet of curiosity spread across 5,000 square feet indoors plus a 2,000 sq ft terrace on which to get your breath back.
Photo Gallery: Alan Chan’s Art Spaces
Alan Chan talks to CC Wang of Christie’s HK about his East-meets-West design and collecting aesthetic in the following video clip.