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"It's like a Hong Kong culture club"
A visitor to G.O.D.'s Hong Kong Street Culture Gallery looks at a model dai pai dong, a kind of outdoor restaurant typical of Hong Kong
“A lot of the these things were just picked up from the street. They were just junk, literally, from the skip. It’s interesting how once it’s in here people start to take pictures.”
It’s exactly what Douglas Young had hoped for. The 42-year-old architect, designer and co-founder of Goods of Desire, a Hong Kong lifestyle brand better known as G.O.D., has spent years collecting bits of ephemera – the remnants of everyday Hong Kong life. They have long been the inspiration for the Hong Kong-themed clothes, furniture and accessories that have become G.O.D.’s trademark. Now they are on display at G.O.D.’s latest initiative, the Hong Kong Street Culture Gallery, in the newly-opened Jockey Club Creative Arts Centre.
The Street Culture Gallery is a hybrid gallery-boutique. G.O.D.-designed products are sold there, along with books on Hong Kong history, art and culture, and CDs featuring Cantonese pop hits from the 1960s. But throughout the space are hundreds of relics of Hong Kong life, past and present, from old bottles of Horlicks malt powder to Maoist kitsch that would be familiar to many of the mainland Chinese refugees who settled here in the 1950s and 60s.
Douglas Young, co-founder of G.O.D.
“We’re not really doing much sales, full stop,” admits Young. “It’s more like a club, I think, where people can sit and chat, have a drink and absorb the atmosphere, talk about Hong Kong culture. It’s like a Hong Kong culture club.”
In 1996, G.O.D. came into life as a small design firm in Ap Lei Chau. From the beginning, Young’s aim was to create a uniquely Hong Kong brand, starting with its name, which is meant to sound like jyu hou di, a Cantonese expression meaning “live better.” (The character for di, incidentally, is purely local – it cannot be found in standard written Chinese.) Young emblazoned pillows, shirts and notebooks with photos of Kowloon tenements, rusty tin mailboxes and old Chinese newspaper classifieds.
With growth came confidence. G.O.D. now operates three retail stores and a concept department store called Delay No Mall, where temporary “pop-up” fashion boutiques share a former cinema with art and performance spaces. Its approach to design and marketing is decidedly cheeky. The brand’s attention-grabbing slogan, Delay No More, sounds like an especially naughty Cantonese swear. And last year, police raided G.O.D. outlets after they began selling a t-shirt that referred to an infamous Hong Kong triad. 18 people were arrested, including store clerks, designers and Douglas Young himself.
In the audiovisual slideshow below, Young talks about G.O.D., the Street Culture Gallery and how they are informed by his passion for Hong Kong culture and heritage.