Designer's Insight — Hanson Ho

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Interviewed by Yanda Tan
All images courtesy of H55

You probably don’t see any slowing down as Hanson Ho, the recipient of President’s Design Award Designer of the Year, grows with age. Representing Singapore as the design jury for the up coming British D&AD Awards, the founder and creative director of Singapore-based design studio H55 which he founded in 1999 has been part of everything—from visual identities in the Civil District of Singapore, to publications including artist Darren Soh’s ‘In the Still of the Night (While You Were Sleeping)’ and Robert Zhao Renhui’s ‘A Guide To The Flora And Fauna Of The World’. We speak to him to find out about his recent exhibition at DECK, Singapore.

Yanda: Tell us how did this get started? 

Hanson Ho: I wanted a show which accompanied the launch H55’s monograph ‘H55 1999–2015’, but at the same time did not want to do a mere show-and-tell. The exhibition needed to allow me and the audience to gain a new perspective of my design practice.

How long ago did you start and how much time did it take to get it completed?

The idea was conceived about more than one year ago, but the execution and exploration began about 3 months before the exhibition.

At your age, people are starting to slow down to take it easier but it doesn’t seems like it for you.

I think I can achieve better and more significant work, so it is not time to slow down yet.

You have worked with so many artists, has anything transcend into your first art show.

No, not really. A lot of it is based on my interest in observing art and spaces.

Making art often seems like we shouldn’t be sticking or even having a brief to adhere to, unlike design, but keeping the message and vision clear still. So with that, did you set a brief for yourself then?

Yes, there is definitely a brief. Besides helping me to gain a new perspective of my work, the exhibition making process had to be an educational and branding exercise for me.

 
 

Isn’t it fascinating that you are designing the branding and collaterals for your art show altogether?

No, not at all. It is the ideal situation!

Do you see this as an extension of H55 or a birth of Hanson Ho as a designer artist.

Not so much ‘designer artist’ but just an extension of my work.

How do you measure success of your show. 

Firstly, by personal satisfaction and how much I have learned due to the process of making the work. But also based on attendance and sales. Two of the large works were sold.

Do you think an art exhibition can be/should be designed?

Yes, in terms of placement and planned experiences.

Any thoughts of entering the art world?

I am not sure about that.

Lastly, will there be more shapes to come to make it 55 in total?

Yes, but 55 is too many!

You have worked with so many artists, has anything transcend into your first art show.

No, not really. A lot of it is based on my interest in observing art and spaces.

Making art often seems like we shouldn’t be sticking or even having a brief to adhere to, unlike design, but keeping the message and vision clear still. So with that, did you set a brief for yourself then?

Yes, there is definitely a brief. Besides helping me to gain a new perspective of my work, the exhibition making process had to be an educational and branding exercise for me.

Isn’t it fascinating that you are designing the branding and collaterals for your art show altogether?

No, not at all. It is the ideal situation!

Do you see this as an extension of H55 or a birth of Hanson Ho as a designer artist.

Not so much ‘designer artist’ but just an extension of my work.

 
 

How do you measure success of your show. 

Firstly, by personal satisfaction and how much I have learned due to the process of making the work. But also based on attendance and sales. Two of the large works were sold.

Do you think an art exhibition can be/should be designed?

Yes, in terms of placement and planned experiences.

Any thoughts of entering the art world?

I am not sure about that.

Lastly, will there be more shapes to come to make it 55 in total?

Yes, but 55 is too many!

ABOUT HANSON HO

Hanson Ho is a recipient of Singapore’s highest design accolade, the President’s Design Award 2012 ‘Designer of the Year’.

As founder and creative director of Singapore-based design studio H55 which he founded in 1999, Hanson has created numerous visual identities, brand applications, and publications which have represented Singapore on an international level. These include the visual identity designs for the Singapore Pavilion at various Venice Biennales and the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize.

Featured by the Sunday Times as one of the top Graphic Designers in Singapore, Hanson has also received recognition and awards from some of the most prestigious international design competitions for his works, including the British D&AD, New York Type Directors Club, New York One Show Design, Creative Circle Awards, Tokyo Type Directors Club, and the New York Art Directors Club.

@hanson_ho
@h55studio

 
Yah-Leng Yu