Early success for Alan Lo, up-cycling old buildings into casual chic eateries at Hong Kong’s margins, like the original Press Room café in a former newspaper
Office along Hollywood Road and The Pawn, a colonial chic gastro-pub which first opened in 2008 in the still gritty Wan Chai within the former Woo Cheong Pawn Shop erected in 1888 (and reopened last year under the culinary aegis of celebrity chef Tom Aikens), encouraged the Princeton educated entrepreneur to keep pushing the design envelope around his native Hong Kong.
Today Lo’s name is attached to several of this city’s most urbane aesthetic initiatives. He serves as chairman of Hong Kong Ambassadors of Design, which launched the Design Trust in 2014 to attract the world-class projects and talent to Hong Kong and the surrounding Greater Pearl River Delta Region. Recent grants include support for the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) Shekou Gallery slated to open in 2017 and for UN/FOLD: A Stitch in Time, British-Chinese “materiologist” Elaine Ng Yan Ling’s social welfare-cum-art project in Guizhou, one of China’s poorest provinces, which calls international attention to traditional weaving practices while preserving that heritage in peril.
Lo is especially excited about Hong Kong’s burgeoning art scene. “In the last 5 years, we’ve see it totally transform from purely commercial to talent driven,” says the hardworking Hongkonger. To witness that evolution in action, Lo recommends taking a gander around the local offshoot of London’s White Cube gallery and French gallerist Edouard Malingue’s “great space” on Des Voeux Road. An urban explorer at heart, Lo admits he actually prefers to go beyond the known confines of Central and finds other areas of the city far more exciting, particularly Sai Ying Pun. “It’s the rare place that lives up to the hype.”
Pivotal to Hong Kong’s cultural scene is Lo’s own Duddell’s, a clubby eatery and arts lounge which feels like the home of a savvy art collector who also happens to employ a Michelin-starred Cantonese chef and has invited you to clink Champagne flutes on his sultry, leaf fringed terrace hidden in the heart of Central. Lo collaborated on this innovative yet inviting spot with his Singaporean hotelier wife Yenn Wong where, he says, “we get to take museum quality art in directions you can’t at a museum or commercial gallery.”