Design Legends ("DL") had the distinct honour to interview legendary designer Bean Buro ("BB") for their original perspective and innovative approach to design as well as their creative lifestyle, we are very pleased to share our interview with our distinguished readers.

DL: Could you please tell us a bit about your design background and education?

BB : Born in Paris, Lorène Faure is a fully qualified French DESA (hmonp) architect and UK ARB RIBA architect. She studied under British renowned architect/critic Sir Peter Cook at Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris, where she graduated with honours and was shortlisted for the prestigious RIBA President's Silver Medal. Lorène worked in London between 2008-2013, she was an associate and senior designer for CRAB studio (Cook Robotham Architectural Bureau) Kenny studied at The Bartlett School of Architecture UCL in London, and is a UK ARB and RIBA chartered architect. He received various prestigious awards as a student, before becoming an assistant at Richard Rogers Partnership, and project architect at Urban Salon Architects to work on award winning projects. Kenny was also a lecturer at the Bartlett School of Architecture, The Royal College of Art, Oxford Brookes, Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture and London South Bank University.

DL: What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?

BB : We both became architects because of our passion in designing spaces. We are motivated to experiment with spatial creation on the cultural thresholds of east/west, domestic/foreign, traditions/globalisation.

DL: Did you choose to become a designer, or you were forced to become one?

BB : We chose to allow our personal passions in designing which in turn led us to become designers.

DL: What do you design, what type of designs do you wish to design more of?

BB : We design anything that affects space; buildings, interior architecture, permanent or temporary installations, furniture, and also art and illustrations.

DL: What should young designers do to become a design legend like you?

BB : Having a good university level education makes a crucial difference. Learning in the top academic environment makes you observe, experiment, critique – skills that carry with you for the rest of your life.

DL: What distinguishes between a good designer and a great designer?

BB : Passion. Discipline. Talent. Having all three of these.

DL: What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?

BB : A design that inspires people, whether it is functionally, formally or environmentally.

DL: What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?

BB : When a design is good, the effect is tenfold. It enables functionality and productivity, creates attention and draws people together.

DL: What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?

BB : We would love to design for Clients who share similar aspiration as us in creating better buildings, furniture and spaces.

DL: What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?

BB : Cultural projects such as museums or libraries, but also small buildings such as private houses.

DL: What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?

BB : Our creative methodology, which goes through a process of observation, interpretation, and interrogation.

DL: Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?

BB : Other than our own academic masters such as Sir Peter Cook, Professor Marjan Colletti and Professor Marcos Cruz, we are also inspired by legendary couples such as Alison and Peter Smithson, Ray and Charles Eames, Aino and Alvar Aalto. The way they create a life’s work together.

DL: What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?

BB : When we were both students (at different times but both) under the influence of Sir Peter Cook and other tutors and colleagues at The Bartlett School of Architecture UCL, we were amazed by the forces of architectural imaginations through drawings by Archigram, the way architectural creations can have such a wow factor.

DL: What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?

BB : At the point of writing, so far we have created various competitions and built interior architectural projects together. The design is the greatest when the initial ideas generated through our concept drawings get translated into built forms, such as our early drawings and paintings for the Leo Burnett Project or The Work Project.

DL: How could people improve themselves to be better designers, what did you do?

BB : In addition to practicing through work, we benefit from our personal activities such as reading, writing, researching, teaching, and travelling. It is important for us to overlap these disciplines.

DL: If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?

BB : Perhaps an artist.

DL: How do you define design, what is design for you?

BB : Design is about progress and evolution. It is about the conceptualisation of creations. It develops our questioning and solutions. It challenges the existing and considers the future.

DL: Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?

BB : Family, friends and our teachers.

DL: What helped you to become a great designer?

BB : Passion and determination.

DL: What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?

BB : Confidence in whether or not people would believe in your work.

DL: How do you think designers should present their work?

BB : The work should be represented in the way the final product should be experienced. Every piece of work has its own story to tell, and should not be limited to generic ways of presenting.

DL: What’s your next design project, what should we expect from you in future?

BB : We are planning a series of projects that would cross the boundaries between art and architecture.

DL: What’s your ultimate goal as a designer?

BB : To create projects that makes a difference.

DL: What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?

BB : Passionate and creative ideas.

DL: How does design help create a better society?

BB : Design brings people together, creates opportunities and a better future.

DL: What are you currently working on that you are especially excited about?

BB : We are currently working on Uber workplace in Hong Kong, and a mall refurbishment and a Façade project. We are also working on Bean Buro’s research projects.

DL: Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?

BB : Design projects that not only have responded to our client’s brief, but going the extra mile of creating new unexpected qualities.

DL: What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?

BB : Clients to be encouraged to take more ‘risks’ to embrace innovative designs.

DL: Where do you think the design field is headed next?

BB : More technological advances in the way we design, prototype and fabricate.

DL: How long does it take you to finalize a design project?

BB : For our architectural projects, the design stages may be relatively fast, but the coordination and construction stages may take a long time.

DL: When you have a new design project, where do you start?

BB : We start by gathering all data regarding the project in terms of client’s brief, the site, the social/political/cultural context, and allowing our personal emotional response to spark our inspirations.

DL: What is your life motto as a designer?

BB : “You are what you draw”

DL: Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?

BB : We certainly see trends in design, however the development of such trends are driven by other disciplines of technology, art, science, literature etc.

DL: What is the role of technology when you design?

BB : Technology plays an important role when we design. We are believers of technology. Our ideas may well be initially conceptualised by a hand drawn sketch, but immediately transfused into the computer for digital development and explorations. Our ideas process is both analogue and digital, and they intertwine, flip and creates a constant feedback loop.

DL: What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?

BB : Our work involves various 2D, 3D digital design and fabrication equipment’s. We also have hand model making equipment. Our ideas are always tested and represented in multi-media, often a combination of hand drawings, paintings, digital collages, renderings, laser cutting, and 3D printing.

DL: What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?

BB : For us, materials and colours come to life with light and shadows. They affect our perception of space. They create emotional experiences. Our skills as architects allow us to play with such ingredients to create spatial drama while performing functional means.

DL: What do you wish people to ask about your design?

BB : We wish for our designs to be experienced first-hand by users, and if they would like to find out more about our ideas, we would welcome questions that are important to them. We wish for our designs to be provocative in generating interests and questioning.

DL: When you see a new great design or product what comes into your mind?

BB : When we see a great design, the first emotion is always appreciation and enjoyment. As design critics ourselves, we would also interrogate its aesthetic and function as part of our enjoyment. We would also want to find out about the creator of the design.

DL: Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?

BB : Bean Buro was founded by the both of us, Lorene Faure and Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui. We are partners in life and at work. It is not always easy, but most of the time we believe we are the best person for each other to motivate and understand each other. Our designs are often the best when we work together. We usually design in exactly the same way, but our subtle differences are also extremely important as they add perspectives and layers to our designs.

DL: Which people you interacted had the most influence on your design?

BB : Our teachers such as Sir Peter Cook, Professor Marjan Colletti and Professor Marcos Cruz, and other colleagues at The Bartlett School of Architecture UCL such as Professor Murray Faser and Justin Lau. My college colleague Tobias Klein also had a great influence on me in getting into teaching. When we were in Paris we were also influenced by the energy of Odile Decq and the crowd of young designers she has brought in to Ecole Speciale d’Architecture.

DL: Which books you read had the most effect on your design?

BB : Architectural Representation and the Perspective Hinge, Pérez-Gómez with Louise Pelletier (1997) The Projective Cast: Architecture and Its Three Geometries, Robin Evans, MIT Press (2000) In Praise of Shadows, Junichiro Tanizaki, Vintage Classics (1933)

DL: How did you develop your skills as a master designer?

BB : We have been developing our skills as a studio through doing lots of projects as a closely knitted team. Everybody in the studio is encouraged to put ideas on the table. We run crits in the studio to critically interrogate our research, concepts and production. Such interaction in our studio culture is very important for us to develop our skills and experiences in order to take on more and more challenging projects.

DL: Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?

BB : We would love to meet Giovanni Battista Piranesi (b. 1720. d. 1778) whom created the famous etchings of Rome and the fictitious and atmospheric “prisons”. The imaginary works inspired us very much as an early example of how architecture could be experimented and developed through drawings.

DL: How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?

BB : It is always great to be recognised for our designs. Clients also tend to trust your decisions more easily when you have received awards for your work.

DL: What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?

BB : Any colours that feel naturally enticing. We develop our favourite colours through the narratives inherent for each project. Every project has a different colour palette. We do not really have one colour that is our favourite. Our favourite place is Kyoto Japan for its tranquil historical qualities and well-kept temples in the city, particularly mesmerising during the cherry blossom season when one can explore the city and enjoy traditional Japanese food as part of the experience.

DL: Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?

BB : A couple of years ago, we introduced a cat into one of our drawings, and it became an addiction – we tend to have cats hidden in all our drawings now!

DL: What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?

BB : We enjoy every single day at Bean Buro, which consist of lots of studio interactions with our colleagues and discussing creative ideas. It is a motivating place for everyone to design, draw, make, and celebrate studio events.

DL: When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?

BB : Not exactly. But we knew we would want to do something artistic or creative when we grow up.

DL: What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?

BB : We are fans of science fiction stories, and wish technology would allow human beings and nature to co-exist more harmoniously.

DL: Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?

BB : We are from London and Paris, now developing our ideas and research in Hong Kong and Asia Pacific. Our studio is multicultural and we are looking for the most talented designers from around the world to join our team and collaborate with specialists from other disciplines. We will continue our mission passionately to create projects that would experiment and question the way spaces are created in the city, on the threshold of cultural, social and economic exchanges.



Curly  Table

Curly Table by Bean Buro

Bean Series 2 Multi-purpose Table

Bean Series 2 Multi-purpose Table by Bean Buro

Cheil Hong Kong Office Interior Design

Cheil Hong Kong Office Interior Design by Bean Buro

Bean Buro Office Office Interior Design

Bean Buro Office Office Interior Design by Bean Buro

Larvotto Residential Apartment

Larvotto Residential Apartment by Bean Buro

Leo Burnett  Workplace design

Leo Burnett Workplace design by Bean Buro

Tasty Chengdu Restaurant

Tasty Chengdu Restaurant by Bean Buro

Warner Music  Workplace Office

Warner Music Workplace Office by Bean Buro

Cabinets Curiosities Residential apartment

Cabinets Curiosities Residential apartment by Bean Buro

The Work Project Coworking Space

The Work Project Coworking Space by Bean Buro

Disappearing Residential Apartment

Disappearing Residential Apartment by Bean Buro

Uber HK Workplace Office

Uber HK Workplace Office by Bean Buro

Flock Architectural Art Installation

Flock Architectural Art Installation by Bean Buro

Swirl Welcoming space

Swirl Welcoming space by Bean Buro

Cumulus Convention centre

Cumulus Convention centre by Bean Buro

Valley House Residential apartment

Valley House Residential apartment by Bean Buro

Terrace Chalet Apartment

Terrace Chalet Apartment by Bean Buro

Black Beans Apartment

Black Beans Apartment by Bean Buro

Curvy Chambers Apartment

Curvy Chambers Apartment by Bean Buro

AstraZeneca HK  Workplace Office

AstraZeneca HK Workplace Office by Bean Buro

Jardine House Workplace Office

Jardine House Workplace Office by Bean Buro

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