Hong Kong's Design Haven
July 21, 2014
A new creative hub has emerged in Hong Kong with the opening of the revamped Police Married Quarters (PMQ) in Central. By Helen Dalley.
Published on Jul 21, 2014
Once the setting for domestic drudgery, the Police Married Quarters has been reborn as a hip artistic beacon in Central, Hong Kong. Primed to become the lifeline for the city's creative scene, this lively hub located on the stylish thoroughfare of Aberdeen Street is now packed with local fashion, jewelry and homeware boutiques, galleries, design studios, pop-up stores and restaurants.
Redubbed the hipper-sounding acronym PMQ, the space is made up of two roomy buildings built in 1950 as accommodation for junior police officers. The structures are linked by a 600-square-meter multi-function exhibition space, called The Cube. All this prized property was doled out in a competitive bidding process as part of the Hong Kong Development Bureau's "Conserving Central" project. Following an open invitation from bidders, the bureau selected a proposal from NGOs Musketeers Education and the Culture Charitable Foundation to transform the site into a creative landmark in 2010, with renovations to the space beginning in 2012. After four years in the making, it is finally celebrating its grand opening in July, 2014, with around 100 permanent studios and a rotating roster of exciting pop up concepts.
Long-term residents include established homegrown lifestyle brands such as G.O.D and Chocolate Rain alongside up-and-coming local fashion designers like Susanna Soo and Debbie Leung. With price points spanning from under HK$100 for whimsical stationery at Chocolate Rain to more than HK$15,000 for a fan chair by Brit designer Tom Dixon, the space is attracting everyone from thrifty students to big-budget design devotees, as well as visitors from the throngs of art galleries along nearby Hollywood Road.
Edgy fashion at YC Yeung Chin
The proviso for all studios—even the commercial tenants that make up 25 percent of PMQ's residents—is that each space must champion design as the two NGOs envisioned it, according to PMQ Executive Director Victor Tsang, who elaborates, "We have a Vivienne Tam store, but it's quite different to her other shops—it's more like a gallery than a boutique." All of PMQ's tenants are encouraged to educate, and the venue has hosted several workshops on everything from creating acrylic accessories with vendor Fabcessories to an introduction to metalsmithing with jewelers The Little Finger.
The creativity continues outdoors, where PMQ's Aberdeen Courtyard & Marketplace hosts European-style night markets on the weekend with live music and food stalls. If alfresco snacks are not your scene, enjoy a sitdown meal at Aberdeen Street Social (facebook.com/aberdeenstreetsocial), a stand out for contemporary British fare, helmed by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton, who was also culinary director at 22 Ships in Hong Kong. After all, browsing art and high fashion is hungry work, and there certainly appears to be a voracious appetite for it—the debut event in April attracted around 10,000 people. "It changed the whole mood of Central," says Tsang, "because there's nothing else like it, and we expect it will become a permanent hit." 35 Aberdeen St., Central; +852 2811 9098; pmq.org.hk
Raw scallops at Aberdeen Street Social.