Hongkonger Darlie Lau found his true calling after stumbling upon creations by one of the stars of the design world. “I saw a work made of scrap metal by Tom Dixon and was quite struck by it,” Lau remembers. “It was a handcrafted object with beautiful detailing.”
But unlike Dixon, who waited decades before setting up his own brand, Lau founded his own eponymous design studio soon after leaving university. “I left design school in 2013 and really got myself going by 2014,” Lau explains. “I lost money on a lot of things but knew I had to go through with it. I was dedicated and I never had another job, so I had to make it work. It was a rough ride and the thought of being back there still drives me.”
Lau stuck at it and was soon generating buzz with products such as the Carousel Stool, which was inspired by children’s play, and the DAX Table, which is a 3D interpretation of the rise and fall of the German stock market (which in finance is referred to as the DAX). The studio now produces furniture, lighting and quirky, innovative products such as an environmentally friendly barbecue fuel box. For his work, Lau has picked up awards including the Young Swedish Design award, a Green Product award and an A’ Design award, among others.
Despite studying in Hong Kong and starting his company here, Lau is now predominantly based in Berlin. “I was finding inspiration in Berlin’s experimental climate and chose to move my business there,” Lau says. “It’s very different from Hong Kong. Berlin offers plenty of artistic freedom, extraordinary exhibit spaces, a relatively low cost of living and rents, and global networks.”