Design Trust Seed Grant

Designing the Spectacle

Designing the Spectacle looks into the artistry of the now faded design practices that preceded the crafting of Hong Kong neon signs. It is a prelude to the Information Design Lab's bigger research into the history of the city’s neon signs and their designs. Following the donation of a large collection of hand-painted neon sign artworks by one of Hong Kong's last-remaining neon sign factories – artworks created across the second half of the 20th century – the Lab is in the process of conserving them while probing into their graphic forms and cultural histories. The prelude to this research traces the ways in which the artworks came about. It inquires into design techniques and forms of making from before the arrival of the personal computer and presents the findings in an exhibition and small publication that form a tribute to design work that has been hiding in plain view for decades.

Brian Kwok and Anneke Coppoolse are both from the Information Design Lab, a research unit at the School of Design of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University established in January 2011. The Lab is dedicated to investigating processes and histories of communication design with a primary focus on establishing new understanding about information design as presented in diverse contexts, through both user-centred research and visual-historical investigations of variant design cultures. The Lab’s research projects span across all media, types of users, designers, and socio-historical and visual contexts.

Kwok is an Assistant Professor at the School of Design of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He leads the BA (Hons) in Communication Design programme and the Information Design Lab. He holds an MA in Design from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and an MA in Visual Culture Studies and MPhil in Communication from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is currently pursuing his PhD at the Department of Typography and Graphic Communication of the University of Reading, UK.

Coppoolse is a Research Associate at the School of Design of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, focusing on urban visual culture and design in Hong Kong. She holds a BA and MA in Media and Culture from the University of Amsterdam, and a PhD in Cultural Studies from Lingnan Univeristy, Hong Kong.