Vicky Chan

Professional in Interior Design.

About Vicky Chan

Vicky is an architect, entrepreneur, environmentalist, educator, futurist, and world citizen. His professional works promote sustainable cities and buildings. He volunteers to teach sustainable concepts to children. His work has won 25 awards related to sustainability. His projects are in 37 cities and 22 countries. He now owns 4 company in 2 countries. He believes design excellence can improve the way we live, work and play. Holistic architecture that combines art and science will make good design for the people and the environment.

  • Winner of 6 A' Design Awards.
  • 2-Time Winner of Interior Design Award.
  • Specialized in Interior Design.
  • 6 Featured Original Designs.
  • Highly Creative, Diligent and Innovative.
  • All Designs
  • Urban Planning
  • Interior
  • Architecture
  • Landscape Planning
  • Volunteerism
WeTown City for 40000 People

WeTown City for 40000 People

Urban Planning Design

The Artist House Bar with Aqua Farm

The Artist House Bar with Aqua Farm

Interior Design

The Cloud Office for Aviators

The Cloud Office for Aviators

Interior Design

The Light House Cultural Center

The Light House Cultural Center

Architecture Design

Horsetopia - Run Fast/Live Slow Eco Friendly Theme Park

Horsetopia - Run Fast/Live Slow Eco Friendly Theme Park

Landscape Planning Design

Architecture for Children Education Program

Architecture for Children Education Program

Volunteerism Design


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Interview with Vicky Chan

Could you please tell us more about your art and design background? What made you become an artist/designer? Have you always wanted to be a designer?
I was good at Art and Science. Architecture is a natural combination of both. It wasn't clear to me at the beginning that architecture can do both, but after years of practice, I discovered my belief in architecture.
Can you tell us more about your company / design studio?
With over 20 years of experience in architecture and urban planning, our award winning team deliver green buildings and sustainable cities to everyone. We believe design excellence can improve the way we live, work and play. Holistic architecture that combines art and science will make good design for the people and the environment. Our design process will add value to your cities and investment. Our services include urban planning, architecture, interior design and products. We organize our work into 4 studios. A for architecture, B for branding, C for children and D for design. We have 25 awards with projects in 36 cities and 22 countries. Our architecture celebrates sustainability with an international team who is passionate and diverse.
What is "design" for you?
It is an artistic and scientific tool to do good for people and the environment
What is your most favorite design, could you please tell more about it?
We like the High Line in New York a lot and any other public planning that salvage an old building or old structure. It can't get any more green to retrofit an abandoned place with new purpose.
What is your favorite material / platform / technology?
We like social media a lot. We believes in a global and sustainable economy. Social media is helping us toward that vision.
What kind of emotions do you feel when you design?
I feel excited that our drawing can change a city the size of Manhattan.
What kind of emotions do you feel when your designs are realized?
We feel amazed that some people believe in our crazy thought and gave us money and time to realize it.
What makes a design successful?
Great social impact, environment impact and technological impact.
From your point of view, what are the responsibilities of a designer for society and environment?
I see too many design that focus on pretty images and sales. Our planet can no longer accept any more waste. A good design need to add value in our life cycle rather than generating more waste for the next generation. We must fix this waste problem from the beginning as designers.
How do you think the "design field" is evolving? What is the future of design?
We integrate new materials that are biodegradable and new thinking into recycling. I think we are getting very close to cradle to cradle designs.
When was your last exhibition and where was it? And when do you want to hold your next exhibition?
Our volunteering group, Architecture for Children, exhibited at the Emerging Professionals Exhibition next to the White House in Washington DC in March 2017. The exhibition promotes citizen designs and it was organized by the American Institute of Architects
Where does the design inspiration for your works come from? How do you feed your creativity? What are your sources of inspirations?
Children taught me a great deal about design and presentation. When I volunteer to teach, I learn from them as much as they learn from me. It is a win win situation.
How would you describe your design style? What made you explore more this style and what are the main characteristics of your style? What's your approach to design?
Combining art and science is my design style. I was always good at both and it is a natural way to continue my career by showing people that architecture is more than pretty buildings.
Where do you live? Do you feel the cultural heritage of your country affects your designs? What are the pros and cons during designing as a result of living in your country?
I live in Hong Kong and New York. Both urban cities have lots of social and environmental problems, but they are still one of the green places on earth to provide compact living. These cities affects the way I approach a problem. We also have to look at both sides of a problem to balance the environmental and social impact.
How do you work with companies?
They may know some of our buildings and design. They hire us via a commission. We also do a lot of competition to win bigger projects, including city planning.
What are your suggestions to companies for working with a designer? How can companies select a good designer?
Find one that care about people and the environment. With that in mind, they will always do great work. Style and appearance are so unnecessary in our generation.
Can you talk a little about your design process?
I usually interview our clients or survey the site to identify the potentials and challenges. My team does sketches, physical modeling, digital modeling, renderings, drawings, video, VR tour, 3d printing, programing to present our finding and suggestions.
What are 5 of your favorite design items at home?
All of them are trash that my son adopted as his new toy. Packaging for eggs, cardboard boxes for our 3d printer, old advertising paper we never wanted in our mail as his drawing paper, ikea cardboard boxes as our tennis racket at home and plastic bottle as his wind turbines.
Can you describe a day in your life?
I split between taking care of my family and working. I take my baby to teach, work and construction site. I promote equity, access and sustainability. I am the living example of my message.
Could you please share some pearls of wisdom for young designers? What are your suggestions to young, up and coming designers?
Care about people and the environment. Found your own firm as early as you can. Don't try to work for a design firm. You learn more being an entrepreneur.
From your perspective, what would you say are some positives and negatives of being a designer?
I don't make enough money. Money is not important, but they are very crucial for building development. I always want to build our own building as a developer-architect.
Designing can sometimes be a really time consuming task, how do you manage your time?
I work very efficiently and just hope for the best. It is inevitable some ideas are bad but they are necessary to prove the good design. I have to go through the bad one as quickly as possible.
What was your most important job experience?
I don't think I have one yet, hopefully I get one when I retire. The social impact and sustainable impact of built environment takes a long time to validate.
Who are some of your clients?
city officials, building developers, private business owners with physical building needs
What type of design work do you enjoy the most and why?
City planning. I get to change how people live, work and play in the most influential way.
What are your future plans? What is next for you?
I want to expand our projects to more cities globally. I am planning a new African Art museum in Ethiopia with local officials.
Do you work as a team, or do you develop your designs yourself?
I am an owner of Avoid Obvious Architects with a team of 15 people.
How can people contact you?
Visit our website www.aoarchitect.us. All forms of contacts and social media is up there.
Any other things you would like to cover that have not been covered in these questions?
I want people to volunteer more and believe in a new capitalism. It is ok to make money while doing good to people and the environment.

Designer of the Day Interview with Vicky Chan

Could you please tell us about your experience as a designer, artist, architect or creator?
I have been working as an architect for the last 15 years with experiences in urban planning, landscape, architecture, interior, product and art. I worked for Stantec, Woods Bagot and SOM before founding Avoid Obvious Architects. I grew up in Hong Kong but studied in New York. The dual culture allows me to serve clients with a different mind sets.
How did you become a designer?
I was good with math and art as a kid. Architecture seems to be a good combination of the two subjects I like. Helping people in need has always been my passion. I have taught over 5000 children for free in 15 years. Architecture and good design is generally helping people in need and to improve the quality of their live, work and play.
What are your priorities, technique and style when designing?
We look at science, history and things that have never been done before. We tried to make sure that our work is responsible in terms of sustainability. Being able to combine solid carbon calculation and environmental assessment with our design is a must for us. We look at history to make sure our building are in line with the adjacent context and heritage. Without that, we are losing the foundation of how people relate to the environment. We also need to be the first of everything we do. Knowing what others people have done helps us to avoid the common mistakes or common solutions. We innovate solutions to be original.
Which emotions do you feel when designing?
I feel like a magician. Being able to pull together all facets of the problem and come up with one holistic solution is not easy. Sometimes it is hard work and sometimes it is luck. We also feel magical to see the result of our design process. It often surprised ourselves as well.
What particular aspects of your background shaped you as a designer?
Having a dual culture makes me see the world a bit different. Eastern and Western thinking are very different in terms of how they approach a problem. Knowing how to think the other way makes me more flexible and more willing to accept different solutions.
What is your growth path? What are your future plans? What is your dream design project?
We continue to expand into urban planning and project with huge social impact. We hope to increase the quality of life for people who are less fortunate and with less resources. Our dream project is to do a school in post-war Syria.
What are your advices to designers who are at the beginning of their career?
Try new things and be humble. I never think any suggestions are stupid and I tried as many suggestions and new things as I can before I picked one path I like to pursue. Many people are so fixed in terms of what they want to do and how they will achieve it. I see too many failed example. I know what I want to do and become. As long as the path in front of me doesn't deviate too much from that goal, i will still do and try new things to make sure I gain the new experiences along the way. It is kind of boring to be an expert in one field. I would rather be a generalist who are interested in all aspects of life.
You are truly successful as a designer, what do you suggest to fellow designers, artists and architects?
I am not truly successful, but I think I am a good architect. If I have to share one quality i like about myself, it will be myr entrepreneurial spirit. I think that mind set push me beyond my comfort zone.
What is your day to day look like?
Volunteering to teach, Sketching, Business Marketing, Construction and Academic Research
How do you keep up with latest design trends? To what extent do design trends matter?
I look at Tesla and Facebook. I love to know what they are up to. I try to see what I can get from them to inspire the next design trend.
How do you know if a product or project is well designed? How do you define good design?
We often do a survey after construction is done. We collected feedback from clients and customers. I don't think there is a perfect project. If the good is more than the bad, I think we did a ok job. We just have to try our best to pull the curves higher and higher.
How do you decide if your design is ready?
We don't and we never feel it is ready. We see each final building as a beta version of the next building. We continue to improve the current design even after construction is completed. It can be minor touch up or revisions. We like the continuous evolution rather than a one off design.
What is your biggest design work?
We are working a city plan in Canada for 40,000 residents. It will take us another 15 years to complete 36 towers. Our initial idea is to keep all residents within a 8 min distance to their work or play. People no longer need to rely on cars. It will be life changing for the residents and the environment.
Who is your favourite designer?
I like IM Pei. His obsession with geometry takes out traditional concept. He is so talented with presentation as well to convince people to pursue his vision. This mindset and skill is admirable and I hope to attain that one day.
Would you tell us a bit about your lifestyle and culture?
I live in New York and Hong Kong. I love my urban life. I never own a car and I like to keep it that way. I am promoting more city life that are green. I am advocating my own lifestyle to everyone.
Would you tell us more about your work culture and business philosophy?
I don't look at the money side too much. It is important to make money but there are certain projects we have to do in order to create significant impacts in the community. We just have to be creative with our spending so that we can afford to work those extra hours and also work extra hard on those significant projects
What are your philanthropic contributions to society as a designer, artist and architect?
We have been teaching for free for 15 years. We taught over 5000 children for free. I am the founder of Architecture for children and we give children knowledge about sustainable design and collaborative thinking. We promote access, equity, equality and sustainability.
What positive experiences you had when you attend the A’ Design Award?
We love the exposure and the international exhibitions they organized around the world.

Extended Interview with Vicky Chan

What motivates you to design in general, why did you become a designer?
I always want to make the world into better place. I grow up in developed countries with news footage of people suffering in other countries. Architecture is a professional that combines art and science. I was good at both and passionate about changing the world I dislike. I see architect being the perfect career to achieve what I want.
What makes a good design a really good design, how do you evaluate good design?
Really good design needs to promote access, equity, sustainability and ecology.
What is the value of good design? Why should everyone invest in good design?
Good design works and make our world greener, better and more efficient.
What would you design and who would you design for if you had the time?
I want to make a city without car for any cities interested in green and walk-able city.
What is the dream project you haven’t yet had time to realize?
I want to make a building completely out of trash. A cellphone app to calculate carbon footprint and use carbon as a new currency
What is your secret recipe of success in design, what is your secret ingredient?
I care about people and the environment. I volunteer to teach children about the same message.
Who are some other design masters and legends you get inspired from?
Mark Zuckerberg. He never talks about business. He cares about the impact he creates.
What are your favorite designs by other designers, why do you like them?
I like cradle-to-cradle designs. It works with our desire to buy new things without worrying about where to place the trash.
What is your greatest design, which aspects of that design makes you think it is great?
Organic Highway is our biggest design so far. It is great because we can really lower carbon footprint for a city the size of Manhattan.
If you hadn’t become a designer, what would you have done?
I am interested to become a politician, but of course there is more politics involved.
Who helped you to reach these heights, who was your biggest supporter?
My family. They support me continuously while I pursue unrealistic projects
What helped you to become a great designer?
I volunteer to teach. I listen to children and adapt innocent ideas they come up with. It is the best way to stay young.
What were the obstacles you faced before becoming a design master?
People care about money and not the environment. When we promote green buildings, people want to know the extra cost and not the extra environmental benefit they can get. The truth is it is often cheaper to make green buildings
How do you think designers should present their work?
We should learn from the tech industry and how they present their ideas.
What people expect from an esteemed designer such as yourself?
They want our unique perspective about recycling, waste and green buildings
How does design help create a better society?
We are making sustainable buildings with renewable energy, efficient design and lots of green features. It is the best way to combat climate change.
Which design projects gave you the most satisfaction, why?
The Artist Lab. The client is a startup with limited budget. We helped them design sustainable shops and they grow with our design. It won several sustainable awards
What would you like to see changed in design industry in the coming years?
People talk more about sustainability and less about style. Style change is exactly why we generated so much waste.
Where do you think the design field is headed next?
A cradle-to-cradle design. Design with completely thought out life cycle.
What is your life motto as a designer?
as long as I work hard and stay positive, opportunities will find me
Do you think design sets the trends or trends set the designs?
I dislike this question. The idea of trends implies irreverent design and it is generating trash. Look at the great pyramids, it was there for 5000 years. we need more of time tested design not trend
What is the role of technology when you design?
We are making building with art and science. Technology integrates seamlessly into our buildings
What kind of design software and equipment do you use in your work?
Rhino, 3dsmax, Revit, Adobe Suite, Unreal 4, 3d printing, model making, hand sketch
What is the role of the color, materials and ambient in design?
They should help to create a safer, healthier and greener communities
Who is your ideal design partner? Do you believe in co-design?
People that focus on science and data and less about style and trends
How did you develop your skills as a master designer?
We look at waste and we find ways to use them in our design. There are always new and different waste we generate.
Irrelative of time and space, who you would want to meet, talk and discuss with?
via video conference. I can talk to people anywhere even if I am inside a bathroom
How do you feel about all the awards and recognition you had, is it hard to be famous?
yes...people picked pretty images and not important ideas that can combat climate change.
What is your favorite color, place, food, season, thing and brand?
i like forest that is nearly untouched by human. They show us eco-system and architecture
Please tell us a little memoir, a funny thing you had experienced as a designer?
People always thought I was a woman and one client accidentally enlist me to their female only team. They didn't want to be sexist by letting me go but keeps giving me harsh comment through the design period.
What makes your day great as a designer, how do you motivate yourself?
The future is brighter if I can deliver more green cities and green buildings
When you were a little child, was it obvious that you would become a great designer?
no. I draw a lot and I love science classes. I didn't know how to combine the two.
What do you think about future; what do you see will happen in thousand years from now?
I hope we can manage our resources efficiently and the earth is still around with happy people. I hope we can get to travel to other planet to do more space exploration.
Please tell us anything you wish your fans to know about you, your design and anything else?
We do green buildings and green cities. We are not decorator to offer a style.

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