BRIAN CHAN, FAI WOO and STEVEN LI pooled together to provide architectural and interior design services spanning retail, habitation, and community.

Brian Chan, Fai Woo and Steven Li were classmates pursuing master’s degrees in architecture at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. During their apprenticeship, they formed a group outside working hours to create and submit proposals for different design competitions.

Years after being qualified as registered architects, each were invited to take up different projects: a retail shop consultancy and project management, and design commissions for a community centre and a cluster of village houses respectively. Seizing these opportunities, the trio quit their jobs and established At Zero Design (ATZ) in 2005.

“Zero means a reference point for everything, which is also a design philosophy at our company, the reason we picked the name,” says Design Director and Co-Founder Steven Li. “From zero, a subsequent change from nothing can be tremendous and infinite. When design starts at a point where everything begins with fundamental concerns, a unique design metaphor for particular project would be formulated. Some people may see constraint and limitation as design obstacle; we at ATZ see them as potential for a unique design solution.”

Areas of Interest

The retail and property market had grown very fast in the last decade, tells Li.

“Many retail brands opened flagship stores and boutiques in Hong Kong, Mainland China and across Asia in order to secure market share. These brands need expertise from ATZ to help open shops on time.”

In parallel, there was an increasing demand for residential property in Hong Kong. “More and more village houses were referred to us for design input.” The company recently employed more staff and established specific teams for design and project management to meet demand and provide better service.

The professional qualifications, collective architectural knowledge, and sheer synergy of the three partners famously allowed ATZ to masterfully approach sophisticated design parameters and oversee complex project management efficiently. A deep personal commitment to each project has won many subsequent referrals from clients throughout years.

Upholding Communities

Apart from commercial and residential work, ATZ has considerable experience in a wide range of community projects. The group has been appointed design architect for several youth and community centers by the Hong Kong Federation of Youth Groups and Caritas Hong Kong. “We implement our ‘Community Participatory Design Approach’ as design methodology for these projects,” says Li. ATZ has also provided design services to several NGOs on voluntary basis and free of charge. These include the recently completed new shop at North Lantau Hospital for Hong Kong Rehabilitation Power and its remade Rehab Center.

ATZ also encourages its staff to participate in various design competitions during and outside working hours. Office morale has been running high since ATZ won 2nd runner-up for the Open Group category at the 8th Hong Kong Lighting Design Competition in April 2015. With a growing team, office culture and dynamics slowly shift at the company. A less robust retail and property market atmosphere has lead to exploration of other fields for alternative revenue streams. Nevertheless, At Zero Design’s reputation for delivering prompt response and efficient service to clients will bring it even more success in the years to come.

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