Launched in 2016, HBX Archives has become a go-to place for sourcing unique pieces from the fashion and streetwear world. From brands like Gucci to sacai and Burberry, we often ponder the stories these sought-after items were once attached to.
As a nod to their past, Artifacts seeks to document the memories behind a collector's prized possession --- or as many call it, their grail. For the latest installment, we talk to Kenji Wong, who has an affinity for all things vintage. While most know Kenji for his clothing brand or love for vintage cars, here we uncover his antiques evocative of childhood nostalgia and a father-daughter bond that no luxury can replace.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Kenji, and I am the Founder and Creative Director of the creative unit GrowthRing & Co. and the clothing brand GrowthRing & Supply (GRS).
What is your artifact?
It's a set of remodeled desk and chair for Hong Kong elementary school students in the '90s.
When and where did you get it?
I collected it from a local primary school around four years ago.
Why did you get it?
In 2018, I had to design a piece for an exhibition about heritage. At the time, my daughter wanted a study desk, which sparked my idea of using an old elementary school desk and chair as the design blueprint.
What’s an important memory attached to it?
The exhibition's theme was "Hong Kong Heritage," so I wanted to collaborate with local traditional craftsmen to renovate the pieces.
I enlisted the help of the owner of Ping Kee Copperware, a copper forging shop in Yau Ma Tei that's been running for over eighty years, to create the pieces with his hand-hammered copper technique.
The material of copper will gradually change color over time, which is an aesthetic I've always pursued.
Now that the plating and polishing techniques in Hong Kong are in decline, and the owner of Ping Kee Copperware told me that he's retiring soon, I hope to pass on this memory of local craftsmanship and use it every day.
Would you sell it and why?
Probably not. Although the school desk and chair are not made of the finest materials and design, to me, they are priceless. More importantly, they hold memories of my daughter, me, and this place.
Whose artifact do you want to see next?
I want to see handcrafts from Hong Kong’s colonial period.