In cities across Asia, design is largely understood with a capital ‘D’. A professional service that raises the economic value of things through the language of style. A modern high-end product only for those who can afford it.
But what about traditional crafts and vernacular creations found in everyday life? Are these also not designed? In his delightful book, “lesser designs” (揦西設計) (2013), Siu King-chung calls the inclusion of everyday inventions of ordinary people in his city of Hong Kong as part of our understanding of contemporary design. From modified street trolleys to simple pamphlets advertising money-lending services, the professor at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Design picks out ordinary things found around the city and unveils the design wisdom behind each through photographs and casual explanations written in Chinese and English. In all, close to 30 collections of objects are divided into four themes to illustrate what “lesser designs” are and where to find them.