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8 Aug 2012

Designing their Future

In Focus

In October 2010, a group of international architects and designers, who had collaborated on projects for 20 years, launched its own firm, 10 Design, in Hong Kong. The partners’ combined experience, contacts and innovative approach took the design world by storm: within 18 months, the firm’s numbers had swelled 10-fold. It bagged a prestigious international design award, upgraded from a serviced office to a 10,000 square-foot space in Wan Chai, and opened two more offices overseas. And that is only the beginning.

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Managing Partner Ross Milne says the vision was always ambitious. Hong Kong offered the ingredients for success, according to Mr Milne. “The majority of partners were based in Hong Kong and, as Asia is the hottest market for rapid urbanisation across the globe, it made sense to make Hong Kong our base,” Mr Milne says. Aside from Hong Kong, the partners hail from the Chinese mainland, Scotland and the United States.

Ross Milne, Managing Partner, 10 Design

City that Works Having a network of existing contacts put the firm “a step ahead of most startups.” Still, being in Hong Kong boosted their prospects, he says. Asked to sum up the city’s advantages, Mr Milne says simply: “it works.” “Hong Kong is an easy place to do business. Everything is can-do. You can get started in a couple of weeks, and there is a ready pool of talent to choose from.” Hong Kong also has the reputation as an international city, which he says enhances the firm’s standing when pitching for projects globally. Most of the partners have young families, and Hong Kong offered them a The 10 Design Hong Kong team desirable lifestyle, he adds. And with the Chinese mainland, the firm’s biggest market, already accounting for 80 per cent of its business, it was logical to set up in Hong Kong, the gateway to China, Mr Milne says. International Kudos The company specialises in designing large-scale master planning, mixed-use development, civic and public buildings, tourism and hospitality, corporate offices, education, and high-end residential development. It is also developing a series of research projects to improve the quality of the built environment.

The firm’s Hong Kong headquarters employs more than 100 staff

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The firm’s most successful ideas are developed in concert with artists, manufacturers, and universities; these, along with its environmental research, are incorporated directly into projects. Such innovation quickly gained recognition. In its first year of operation, in 2011, 10 Design broke into the World Architecture Top 100. The firm was featured in Wallpaper UK, and earned further international kudos when it received an American Institute of Architects Hong Kong Chapter Merit Award in 2011. The latter prize was for an international competition to design the Dalian Public Library on the mainland, competing with such globally renowned architecture firms as Zaha Hadid,

Kengo Kuma, Hopkins and AC. Search

Asian Expansion Plans With work pouring from across the region and beyond, and its reputation soaring, 10 Design is looking to open more offices. Singapore and Korea are next in line to complement existing satellites in Shanghai and Edinburgh. Hong Kong, its largest office, employs 100 of the 126 designers and architects in the company, and will continue to be the firm’s headquarters. “Hong Kong has played a huge role in our speedy growth over the past year,” says Mr Milne. “Being on the doorstep to China is perfect for us, because that is where the work is.” Related Link 10 Design


The award-winning design of the Dalian Public Library on the Chinese mainland Email




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Trader's Choice: Designing their Future