Neon signs were an integral part of the streetscapes of Hong Kong and have defined the city’s unique visual culture and language, gracing the scenes of many films over the years.
While these neon signs have been gradually replaced over the years, recent government policies have seen more signboards being demolished due to safety concerns. This led to the craftmanship of neon signs, sign-building and signboard lettering as the subject of public attention and discussion.
What is the inherent relationship between neon signs, people and the city? What are the costs and difficulties behind the conservation of the city’s signboards?
Andrew Chui, the fifth-generation owner of Tai Ping Koon Restaurant will relate to us stories of the restaurant’s signboards and the cultural legacies behind. What’s more, the creators of ‘After Seventeen Days’ Anthony Ko and Ken Fung will share how their work explores the public’s perception of signboard culture and their approach to visually representing the perceived value of signboards in the city.
Moderated by Mr Brian Kwok, the Associate Professor of the School of Design at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the three speakers will discuss the past, present and future of the aesthetics, culture and conservation of the city’s neon signs.
Brian Kwok, Associate Professor of the School of Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic University of Hong Kong
1. Andrew Chui, Managing Director of Tai Ping Koon Restaurant
2. Anthony Ko, Co-Creator of “After Seventeen Days”
3. Ken Fung, Co-founder of @streetsignhk, Co-Creator of “After Seventeen Days”
Associate Professor of the School of Design, Hong Kong Polytechnic University of Hong Kong
Associate Professor of the School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University of Hong Kong. Brian has multiple years of experience in multimedia and advertising design and production. His design and academic interests span across information design, user-centred design and visual culture in art and design. Brian is also very keen in street observation and visual ethnography, his publications include I am a Street Ethnologist: Street Culture in Fa Yuen Street (2017), Fading of Hong Kong neon lights – The archive of Hong Kong visual culture (2018), City of Scripts – The Craftsmanship of Vernacular lettering in Hong Kong (2020) and Hong Kong Neon Sign Artworks – Vol. 1 Restaurant (2021).
Managing Director, Tai Ping Koon Restaurant
Based in Hong Kong, Anthony Ko is an artist, spatial designer and architect registered in the United Kingdom. He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Hong Kong in 2014, before obtaining his Master’s degree in Architecture from the Bartlett School of Architecture at UCL London in 2017.
Ko then started his design agency Dilemma, working primarily on spatial design, installations and community projects. Using a theoretical approach in his work, he creates compelling manifestos and narratives to describe and highlight the provocative properties of architecture. He also experiments on the topics of place attachment, environmental psychology and cultural preservation.
Inspired by the layers of signboard-streetscapes that defined the iconic sceneries of the streets of Hong Kong, @streetsignhk was founded in 2017 by the architect duo of Kevin Mak and Ken Fung. @streetsignhk promotes signboard-streetscape as an urban cultural heritage by exploring in-depth signboard stories of Hong Kong and building regulations — striving to conserve existing signboards facing demolition whilst cultivating a sustainable signboard culture through design practice.