Insight school, Hong Kong in Hinge Magazine
Eve Mercier at Insight school library in Hong Kong
The Lighting design studio at Insight interior design school, Hong Kong
Insight school of Interior design, Hong Kong in Hinge Magazine : Let Them Have Better Design
Eve Mercier is determined to transform Hong Kong’s ‘internal landscapes’ through the “little soldiers” she is training at the institute she founded, the Insight School of Interior Design, Hong Kong .And she has plenty of inspiration for her mission…
In 2010, Japanese artist Takashi Murakami filled the Palace of Versailles with his works, marking the first of a series of collaborations between contemporary artists and the royal chateau that was once was the centre of political power in France. While the exhibition generated renewed interest in the grand dame, it also sparked a flurry of controversy. Many protested that more is less, and that the regular art shows detract from the relevance of both the featured artist and the historic venue. Eve Mercier, a native of Versailles who grew up near the Petit Trianon (a small chateau located on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles), feels this is exactly the type of exercise that fosters critical thinking in her students.
“Saying no is just as important as saying yes,” stresses Mercier. “When we interview potential students, it isn’t necessary for them to have a portfolio. I ask them to bring in one image that they love, and one that they feel is badly composed or designed, and we assess their critical thinking. It’s also a way for potential students to assess their own abilities.”
Mercier first called Hong Kong home 14 years ago, when she lived in the city for three years. An interior designer by training – she is a graduate of the KLC School of Design in London and La Sorbonne in Paris – she returned to Hong Kong two years ago. The idea for Insight came about after she heard comments by a motley crew of professionals who all complained that Hong Kong does not know how to design interiors.
“A lot of schools here teach general design,” she explains. “But interior design requires specific skills that take time to develop. It’s a hands-on job, with training in client management, art history, budgeting and contracting required. Through my research, I heard from many recruitment, architectural and interior design firms that Hong Kong interior designers are not properly trained. For example, one fresh grad from a local university specified door handles to be installed at 700mm instead of 900mm. Another had no clue how to plan a washer-and-dryer for a client, because he lived at home and had never done laundry before. There are not enough people fit to help architects, and most interior design students here graduate with little knowledge of art history or furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E). A lot simply replicate what they see in magazines. If designers do that, it means they don’t care – they don’t attach value to their own designs. So how can they convince clients that their designs are indeed of value? My school aims to not just train designers; we aim to train good designers.”
Situated on the top floor of a Chai Wan mixed-use building with expansive sea and mountain views, Insight’s premises alone are inspiring. The facilities include a dedicated CAD lab, a library, a lighting studio where students can study the effect of different light temperatures on materials, a lecture room, administrative offices and a large pantry. “I am very French!” Mercier guffaws. “Our pantry allows students to enjoy good food and drink while sharing their experiences.
“Many of our students are mature; they may be looking for a change in career, and come from backgrounds such as marketing, law and banking, but always had an interest in interior design. They don’t want a four-year degree. Our programme is intensive and we offer part- and full-time courses to give them all the tools they need.”
Since opening in February, Insight has seen 120 students go through its still-developing curriculum. This fall, the school is offering one-year diplomas covering seven projects, as well as residential and commercial design certificates. “I am very ambitious,” admits Mercier. “My aim is to train little soldiers with the necessary tools to spread the good news and make a real difference in the local interior design arena. I like Hong Kong; setting up the school here was a deliberate choice. It’s a very positive place, with some of the world’s most dramatic landscape. If Hong Kong paid attention to what it builds, I’d be happy.”