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openUU opens doors to collaboration

Eddy Man Kim, Edward Yujoong Kim, and Kevin Chin-kwok Lim founded design research lab openUU (pronounced “Open, you! You!”) in the spirit of open-source intelligence. Narelle Yabuka finds out more about the collaborative studio and its fascination with ‘supernormal moments’.

openUU opens doors to collaboration


December 15th, 2013

Tell me about the establishment of openUU – when, why, and how?

Founded by architectural designers Eddy Man Kim, Edward Yujoong Kim, and Kevin Lim in 2009, openUU represents an internationally recognised body of collaborative design work of varied scales and disciplines.

Has your approach or the nature of your practice shifted since then or remained constant? Why?

The nature of our research-oriented practice constantly evolves around the varied needs of our clients and the drive to give users a holistically unique experience.


Gallery renovation (ongoing) for Osage

The studio name – is it about being open-ended? Engaging?

The studio name – openUU – contemplates design in the spirit of the emerging trend of open-source intelligence and initiatives, whereby transparent processes and communication are fostered to convey more value of design and ultimately to build new productive relationships.


School cafeteria renovation, Chinese International School (with CL3 Architects Ltd)

What are ‘supernormal moments’ and why is it important for you to create them?

openUU believes that good design never comes from a vacuum. ‘Supernormal moments’ are everyday notions that are often dismissed as pedestrian, but hold opportunities for meaningful re-appropriation and value-added design. As such, ‘supernormal moments’ are intrinsic to openUU’s mission to provide a socially and culturally responsible design service.


Pavilion/installation for Hong Kong & Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture (with CL3 Architects Ltd)

Do the three partners work independently on projects, or do you split the responsibilities across projects?

Responsibilities are split among the partners depending on the duration and scale of the given project. A partner may work independently on a smaller project, while the other partners are always made available for any kind of support.

What kinds of projects constitute the bulk of your work?

As mentioned before, openUU’s portfolio is quite varied in type and scale. So far, openUU has made a name for itself with warehouse conversions, gallery renovations, commercial renovations, hospitality design, installation design, exhibition and event design, brand and graphic design, user experience design, and more.


Lobby furnishing for a private client in China

Which projects have you most enjoyed and why?

The studio was fortunate enough to work on several warehouse conversion projects that vary in end use. These are generally projects that allow us to work with very particular conditions – unique spaces, unique sets of problems, unique usage.

What other kind of projects would you like to do and why?

Given the varied interests of the team members and our constant attempt to exchange, as a whole our studio is generally attracted to any project that is willing to be adventurous, whether that is spatially, socially, or culturally.


Pavilion/installation for Hong Kong & Shenzhen Bi-City Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture

What are the challenges and plus points of working in Hong Kong at the moment?

We find that most of the challenges our studio has to work through invariably turn out to be a plus point. In the context of Hong Kong, the heightened pace of the city has taught us to be quite flexible in our operation; the overwhelming density has introduced us to a different way of understanding the occupation of space.


Art gallery/library/archive for a private client

What are you working on now?

We are currently working on a boutique hotel in China, a large-scale commercial renovation project in Hong Kong, Freespace Fest in West Kowloon, an on-going gallery renovation project in Kwun Tong, and other independent lines of design research.

What’s in store for openUU over the next year?

openUU is looking forward to the projects slated for completion next year and we are excited to share these works with everyone soon.

Top image: Warehouse conversion for a private client


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