Multi-awarded Filipino interior designer James JJ Acuña started his career as an apprentice in a large architectural firm in Hong Kong, right after completing his studies in Manhattan’s Columbia University. He’s as cosmopolitan as it gets.
With his talent, he rose up the corporate ladder to become a design leader in less than two years, an associate senior designer shortly after, and eventually ended up as operations director of a design firm for the fast growing and lucrative APAC and China market. Huge multinational clients, however, have very similar requirements, with a greater emphasis on efficiency, that sometimes means a limited leeway for creativity. JJ Acuña soon outgrew his corporate job and setting up his own design firm was a natural progression.
For Acuña, Hong Kong is a treasure trove and it made perfect sense to establish his practice there. The Philippines, where he was born, was at the cusp of a breakthrough and an office in the place would present many opportunities.
When it comes to starting and running a business, Hong Kong is a paradise.
“Hong Kong is quite transparent, fair and very welcoming to small enterprises like mine. Dealing with government here as well as my bank has been a very supportive experience for me and my investment in design,” he says.
Hong Kong, compact as it is, is teeming with inspiration, where the newest tech exists in harmony with the traditional, and dizzying skyscrapers have lush greenery and deep blue waters as backdrop.
“I chose to establish a business in Hong Kong because I find the city the easiest and most welcoming place to be a creative entrepreneur in Asia,” he says. “My client base is mostly in food and beverage and hospitality, and Hong Kong has a great reputation for all kinds of dining concepts and experiences. I can really push the boundaries of design here.”
The Chinese New Year may be over but red packets should have no time constraints. Acuña is the creative mind behind the red packet of In Style Hong Kong that debuts in Manila this year. In Style Hong Kong is a mega promotion organized by the Hong Kong Trade and Development Council. In Style Hong Kong’s Manila launch promises to be a celebration of everything that Hong Kong has to offer.
In Style Hong Kong is set to stage in Manila on 5 to 6 March. The citywide promotion includes a trade expo featuring a wide array of Hong Kong’s quality brands and design focused lifestyle products, a service symposium showcasing its wide range of business services, and a high-level gala dinner attended by prominent officials and business leaders from the Philippines and Hong Kong.