“Do you use-less? Or Are you useless?” Such was the strangely-worded binary posed by Hong Kong's DETOUR 2011 design festival. The project, which just wrapped up at the former Married Police Quarters in the city's Central district, was all about exploring the differentiation outlined in this question. The exhibition showed a group of designers and artists whose work demonstrated the possibility of turning useless objects into useful treasures through conservation and artistic recycling.
Presented by Hong Kong Ambassadors of Design as a parallel event to the Business of Design Week, DETOUR is an annual event with the goal of promoting Hong Kong design talent and positioning the city as a regional creative hub. Since its first edition in 2006, DETOUR has attracted local designers and artists as well as creatives from beyond Hong Kong, drawing participants from Mainland China, Japan, the U.K., and Australia.
DETOUR 2011’s theme juxtaposed right and wrong and eco-friendly and wasteful through a wealth of exhibitions, installations, performances, workshops, and forums all aimed at stimulating people to think twice about what they buy and the waste they create. “We are pleased to see more and more Hong Kong residents beginning to be interested in design and sustainability,” said Alan Lo, chairman of Hong Kong Ambassadors of Design. “This year, DETOUR attracted more than 50,000 visitors, compared with only 17,000 two years ago.”
Not only were the designers’s works dedicated to promoting an eco-friendly lifestyle; the venue itself also proved a perfect example of the “use less” lesson. The space had been abandoned for nine long years before it was first repurposed by DETOUR as a creative workshop venue two years ago.
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