29 August, 2012

That Girl: Thierry Chow, artist & feng shui queen

29 August, 2012

This week’s That Girl is super cool chick Thierry Chow – an artist, illustrator and feng shui queen (no really… her Dad is one of HK’s best known feng shui masters!). We’re totally in love with her cute little handmade dolls – and her awesome sense of style!

We chat with Thierry about vintage shopping, her favourite places in Hong Kong, how we can incorporate feng shui into our everyday lives and how she’s bringing the ancient tradition into the 21st century!

Can you tell us a bit more about your background?
My whole family is from Hong Kong and my parents came from a very tough childhood – money was hard to make and life was difficult back then in HK. My grandparents came from different parts of China; my dad’s side is from Chiu Chow, and I love being from there because their food is amazing! I was born in Hong Kong, and was raised here until I was around 10 years old, then we moved to Canada and lived there until two years ago.

Where do you live? How have you made your home your own?
I have just moved to a cute tiny orange building on St. Francis Street in Admiralty. I collect lots of little cute items; an obsession of mine is collecting and looking at antique toys and also decorating the place with my own handmade dolls, or anything that is super colourful. I think colours are so important, they makes the place look so much happier! I don’t need a big place, I think it is important to make it nice and cosy, and that’s what I call home.

How do you describe your personal style? How does it evolve and change?
My style is simple and ever changing; recently, I have started loving secondhand and vintage clothing and accessories, they can be so classy and unique! I love to keep it simple, matching my clothes with vintages items, along with funky patterns and colours.

Where do you shop in Hong Kong? Any secret finds you can let us in on?
I never thought I was a good shopper, and I have no particular brand or store that I always go to. I usually walk in places and pick anything I fall absolutely in love with, and that could be anywhere!

I love to explore in cities, so when I came back to Hong Kong, I kept my eyes open for places where I could get some lovely vintage watches, glasses, etc. There are a few stores that I love rumbling through, there is one excellent vintage glasses/sunglasses store in North Point owned by a very old man, right outside the MTR exit [Woo Ping Optical Co., 278 King’s Road]. Another place I like to walk through is the street in Sham Shui Po, also right outside the station. They have a whole street of secondhand items, and sometimes you’d be surprised what you can find there! I found two vintages watches there recently and I adore them.

What are your must-have beauty products? Where do you go for hair/nails/maintenance?
My must-have beauty products are liquid eyeliner, eyebrow pencil, and pink lipsticks. I also like to keep my make-up simple, so these things get me looking refreshed and awake every morning! As for hair, I use camellia oil from Korea and a hair iron.

I’m pretty adventurous with hair, so I usually just pick random places to try out new hairstyles. I’m not big on nails, so as long as the colour is awesome, I’m happy.

What are your favourite restaurants and bars in Hong Kong?
My favourite bar would be Sense 99, it’s cosy and I love the music there. My favourite restaurants are Sichuan spicy restaurants, there’s one in TST on Granville Road and one in Kyoto Plaza in Causeway Bay that my friends and I always go to!

What is your favourite place in HK?
My favourite place in Hong Kong must be the goldfish street in Mong Kok – I love the animals and beautiful aquariums there! I can spend a whole day there just window-shopping. Also, one of my new hangout places is a coffee shop called Amical, on Sun Street in Admiralty. It has a really nice cosy atmosphere and serves really good coffee.

Can you tell us more about how you started making your dolls and what inspired them?
I first started making my dolls a couple years ago for a friend’s birthday, and I am also a big fan of mini and colourful things, so I started making more and more, and recently I started a whole series of mini dolls! They are all around the size of a HK$10 dollar coin. I then started selling them through a Japanese handmade gallery called petit morpho in Central.

Is it hard to make a living out of being creative?
I think the most difficult part of being creative is starting! It is really hard making a living at first, because it always takes a couple of years to start and settle everything.

What’s your earliest arty memory?
My earliest arty memory was when I was still in Hong Kong, studying in a public school with grey and white uniforms! I could never focus on other subjects and tended to daydream way too much; I remember I really liked art class because it was the only time I could focus. I was always patient with it, and was really good at it.

How do you keep your creative juices flowing?
People and things that I love and make me happy keep my creative juices flowing. Humour is also one of the things that keeps me creative, because laughter fixes everything!

Your father is one of the most successful feng shui masters in HK and you are now apprenticing with him. Can you tell us more about what feng shui is and why it is important in everyday life?
Feng shui is all about the balance of life and living! It is extremely important to have that balance so that your home or office can give out maximum luck, happiness and healthy energy! For that, we use the five important feng shui elements to balance your home – these are fire, water, earth, metal and wood. There are also many things to learn, such as face reading, palm reading, and birthday reading.

Feng shui is a big help in balancing your living area and all the energy that surrounds you – it can bring out the best in you! But it is certainly not the only important thing in life; there’s a Chinese saying about what are the important aspects that influence your life and success: “One is Destiny. Two is Luck. Three is Feng Shui. Four is Karma. And Five is Academics.”

What are some easy elements of feng shui that we can incorporate into our lives?
I think we can really easily incorporate colours into our lives; different colours represent the five elements in feng shui and there are one or two particular colours that are most compatible with each individual. You can definitely insert those colours into your choice of clothes, accessories, hair colour, apartment furniture, walls and even business surroundings!

You’re planning on designing cool modern furniture and items that combine feng shui principles with art – can you tell us more about that?
I’ve always been artsy and tend to be picky when it comes to presentation and packaging – there are a lot of ideas in my head to redesign all the feng shui items I see daily, like carpets, different kinds of lights, lamps, fans, metal decorations, wood decorations, and fish tanks! It all varies from different choices of colours, numbers, and shapes. So I think I have a lot to work on!

Do you think feng shui will always have a place in the modern world?
I think that is one of the most important reasons why I’m here! My goal is to continue this tradition and bring it into the modern world. I think the main point of having feng shui done to homes and offices is to make people happy and give them comfort and peace of mind, and that alone is the best part of the job. Although there are and have been many changes with society, I still think I can carry on with feng shui and bring it up to date but still keep its traditions.

What is the key to being happy in HK?
I think the key to being happy in Hong Kong is to know how to balance everything on your schedule. Hong Kong can be very intense, everyone is so hard working, and it’s a tiny city with small spaces and lots of crowds everywhere and anywhere. It is crucial to make sure there is time to relax, a place that you love to hang out in, to have a cup of coffee and spend time with people you love.

All photos in the That Girl article above were taken by the hugely talented Sabrina Sikora of Sabrina Sikora Photography – get in touch with her at [email protected].

Check out the rest of our That Girls here!

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