Cooperation is key to Collaborate

Yang Di
Roger Hackworth is the founding director of Collaborate, a Hong Kong-based award-wining studio behind Kee Club in Hong Kong, Capital M, The Glamour Bar in Beijing and Shanghai.
Yang Di

Who is he?

Roger Hackworth is the founding director of Collaborate, a Hong Kong-based award-wining studio behind Kee Club in Hong Kong, Capital M, The Glamour Bar in Beijing and Shanghai and recently Canvas Place Bangkok and Bali — some of the most innovative and mindful designs in Asia. Trained as an architect in Australia with more than 25 years experience, his experience crosses all fields of design, including hospitality, retail, corporate, entertainment and residential projects.

Please share with us some of your works, and name the one you are most proud of?

Collaborate works on a diverse range of architecture and interior projects throughout the Asia-Pacific region, including schools, restaurants, bars, private residences, meditation centers and airline lounges. We’re currently working on the interiors for a high-rise apartment development in Bangkok and the renovation of a resort in Bali. These are the first projects for Canvas, a lifestyle brand recently launched by ACTS Group.

Our clients are typically looking for unique, well thought-out, enduring design solutions, with often complex briefing requirements. All have a long-term view of how their projects can be of true value to both themselves and the larger community.

All our projects are unique. I don’t have a particular favorite, but one collaborative project that stands out for me as a success is a large private residence in Hong Kong. Collaborate brought together a project team, which included architects and interior designers, five artists (each working on large installations), a team of structural and building services engineers plus IT, security and suppliers.

In true collaboration the client was involved every step of the way and the process was one in which we have all put our hearts into, enjoyed and benefited from.

What’s your design style?

Collaboration is the cornerstone of our approach to design at Collaborate. Our starting point for any project is to understand the big picture: What the client wants to achieve, the short and long-term objectives and how design can support these objectives. We then build the project team with people who have the breadth of view, skills and expertise required to realize the vision. Our project teams vary from project to project, ensuring our work is always fresh, innovative and enduring.

Where are you most creative?

Inspiration comes from many sources and at different times — often when least expected. Active listening and being open-minded to different ideas are essential skills for architects and designers.

We are not working in isolation. To build ideas and create a holistic solution, I need to be in the office — at the big table and with a roll of yellow trace.

What does your home mean to you?

Having worked with clients over many years to design their homes, I’ve learnt that home means vastly different things to everybody. Home for me is a sacred space. My partner and I live in a place that is full of light. It is a place we can be the best we can be, both as a family and as individuals.   

What do you collect?

I’m not an acquisitive person. It is important for me to see and experience beautiful things, but I don’t feel the need to own them. In fact, I love the idea that these wonderous things are available to all. Having said that, I can be very sentimental, particularly about things people have given me.

Where would you like to go most in Shanghai?

Shanghai is a city that is close to my heart, as some of Collaborate’s first projects were there, including M on The Bund and the original Glamour Bar.

West Bund Art Center and the Bamboo Courtyard Teahouse in Yangzhou City are on top of my list of places to go next time I’m in Shanghai. The Yuyuan Garden teahouse in winter is always a favorite.

What will be the next big design trend?

The momentum of conscious design is building rapidly. It is becoming the foundation of our lives, in all cultures, in all societies, all vocations.

As architects, we’re much more aware and awake to how design can be used as a tool to support and contribute to social, environmental, economic and holistic needs — most importantly, how these are all deeply interconnected.

Advances in technology allow us all to be connected, have revolutionized the way we do things and the way we think about what we do.

We have much to thank the creative geniuses behind the technologies available to us. It is their creativity which opens the doors for us to be the best creators we can be. It is all about the collective, collaboration, co-creation, cooperation.

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