Michael Leung started HK Honey in 2009 after relocating to Hong Kong from London, building a creative career centred on urban beekeeping. Ben McCarthy has this story.
January 30th, 2012
More than just producing honey, Michael Leung and his team design, make, sell and install urban beehives, teach the process, use the wax for candles and run candle-making workshops. The sleek yet simple aesthetic of HK Honey has become a platform through which Leung celebrates the whole process of urban beekeeping in one of the world’s most bustling metropolises.
“I looked into urban beekeeping around the world and found that it existed in all the major fashion cities; but not in Hong Kong. So I got to know a beekeeper, and found Hong Kong had the optimum temperature for beekeeping with good humidity levels.”
Leung capturing wild bees to be re-hived.
HK Honey Candles
Having worked with diverse groups of people and platforms through HK Honey, from the most exclusive design stores to families with local knowledge, primary schools, and charity events, Leung thrives in the collaborative nature of his work.
“My social values and opinions are really connected to my work,” says Leung. This socially-minded approach to the design process has allowed him to construct a unique community around himself, rather than simply applying for jobs following his masters graduation from Hong Kong Polytechnic University.
In 2011 he opened Shanghai Street Studios with Martin Cheung – a small studio space in Kowloon, focussed on local artistic collaboration. They now work in a range of activities from candle-making workshops to pin-hole camera workshops, furniture design for local production, curation for recycled photography exhibitions that promote the heritage of the Shanghai Street area, and most recently, the branding of Hong Kong’s newest chess club.
Pinhole Photography Workshop
But even with such diverse and significant success Leung says the process has all been about experience, community and collaboration and not about income. “I used to think it was a crime to make money from doing these types of projects, but then I was taught in New York that it’s important to be sustainable and generate enough money to keep doing larger and more meaningful projects.”
Shanghai Street Studios
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