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J J Acuna, Architect & Interior Designer, blogs about his experience at Insight School of Interior Design

Staff at student graduation with, founder Eve Mercier (third from right.)

Boris Vervoordt, gallerist, visits Insight School during Art Basel week

They had such a great time in the Philippines.

The final output of that project resulted in a wonderful presentation for Residential Certificate students.

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It was a good opportunity for me to extend my skill-set to a new generation of would-be designers, Old and Young, while at the same time allow myself to make a living as I establish my young practice, JJA / Bespoke Architecture.
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Founder of theWanderlister+ JJ.Acuna talks about his experiece teaching at Insight School of Interior Design.

Part of what I do besides running this website and practicing Architectural and Interior Design in Hong Kong and the Asian region with my own studio, is teach design part time at the Insight School of Interior Design.

This adventure with the Insight School started just this year, as soon as I quit a decade of working corporate. It was a good opportunity for me to extend my skill-set to a new generation of would-be designers, Old and Young, while at the same time allow myself to make a living as I establish my young practice, JJA / Bespoke Architecture.


Insight School is a really wonderful design institution located in Hong Kong’s Chai Wan Industrial District, and was founded by Eve Mercier, an Interior Designer and Art Historian with over 15 years of experience in the business within both Europe and Asia.


The purpose of the school is to arm students with an aesthetic and creative eye (if they don’t already have an innate sense of it to begin with), and give their vision an added boost of practical skills from instructors who have strong ties with the design industry in Hong Kong and the region at large. Unlike other design institutions, students at the Insight School work on real-life projects with real-life industry clients, like H&M, HKIS (Hong Kong International School– the studio I thought last semester), the Marriott Hotel Group, Ritz Carlton, and Shanghai Tang… to name a few. Lecturers come from Design, Arts, and Fashion industries, like professionals from Cartier and Hermes, plus industry leaders like Douglas Young of G.O.D., and gallerist Boris Vervoordt of Axel Vervoordt gallery from Belgium and Hong Kong.


All graduating Diploma students who wish to be part of the school’s Internship program, are allowed a 1 month internship with industry partners, such as Marriott Group, Timothy Oulton, Infrastructure, and HBA.


The school offers part time and full time courses in intimate classes. There’s an 8-week introduction to Interior Design Course, and a Residential Interiors Certificate course. Short vocational courses on specific subjects like Lighting Design and Small Space Design are also available. Actual Industry specific Diploma courses, like the interior Design Diploma, which is a combination of Residential and Commercial Interiors Certificates, are also available at Insight.


Some of the classes I put together for Insight is a course instruction on the history of Wicker Furnitures, with specific focus on the Philippines (which I loved). This led me to the Philippines where I was able to take some of the students on a trip to Manila to meet celebrated designers like Kenneth Cobonpue and Ito Kish (photos below).


Additionally, these same students had the opportunity to visit one of my Manila residential projects as it was a part of their final studio research. My project manager, Boni, was able to have a real-world Q+A chat with the students on-site regarding local building materials and construction methodologies.


I also ran a studio focused on a site for the a Kindergarten at the new HKIS (Hong Kong International School) building near Repulse Bay. Each of the students presented their final work to the School’s administrators, who were generally impressed with the breadth of the student’s design solutions.


I begin teaching again next Spring (so maybe you can be one of my students as well!) However, if you’re really keen to learn now, you can definitely check out the 8-week Introduction to Interior Design course which starts next week, October 6th.


LEARN MORE at  Insight School of Interior Design. 24F, Federal Centre, 77 Sheung On Street, Chai Wan, Hong Kong Island . T: 21142021


JJ Acuna is a Hong Kong based Architect / Interior Designer, and Founder of his boutique studio, JJA / Bespoke Architecture based in Hong Kong and Manila.