Travel and design
July 4th, 2017


Images of Vietnam by Tien Tran, Alice Young and Harvey Enrile

I have been lucky enough to visit Malaysia, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and France within the last year for work, friend’s weddings, and vacations. There is nothing more valuable than the new experiences that come with visiting new cultures, eating new food and meeting new people. As a foreigner living in Hong Kong, I try as hard as possible to be humble to the culture I live in, not only to endear myself to it’s people, but to understand the way of life and throw myself into new experiences that I could have never thought possible before being adopted into such richness of culture. Being an alien to the culture is by far my biggest advantage. I view my new world with the critical perspective of an outsider, a ‘Gweilo’, an observer. The design landscape is ever changing and since the 1997 handover, it is changing faster than ever. Pre-1997, with the abundance of British and foreign creative, advertisement and architectural agencies in Hong Kong, we are left with colonial institutions across every creative landscape. 

During a holiday to Thailand, out of pure chance, I met Kevin Orpin. Kevin was a founding member of the Hong Kong creative agency powerhouse ‘Fortune’ and worked on campaigns for most airlines, sportswear brands, and creating hundreds, of visual identities that still exist within Hong Kong’s landscape. To give some further perspective, Kevin was Alan Chan’s mentor. An unforgettable meeting created out of the chance that travel brings.

For a designer, travel is the most intensive way of becoming visually cultured and educated. Exposure to different visuals, written languages, illustrative styles, brand landscapes, culturally or historically significant symbology, there can be no better way of seeing the world than from a motorcycle.

My most formative trip, on my third visit to Asia, was a two week motorcycle adventure, (we were just 19 years old!), my best friend and I rode half the length of Vietnam on a clapped out 150cc scooter called Morgan, starting in Ho Chi Minh, up the coast to Tuy Hoa, then in-land, up the mountainous roads (more like paths) through fogs and many numbers of different kinds of rain (Forest Gump kind of rain) to Da Lat, a city on-top of the world. We were aliens to the culture and we had an incredible time. As the cliche goes, one goes on trips to ‘find one’s self’. I didn’t find myself, I found a world unknown, full of mysterious symbols, foreign visual languages, new traditions, cultures and faces. 

A decade after that adventure I am still in love with travelling. It is the ultimate luxury. To have the time, the means and the opportunity to explore and wander, to live out a day-dream, step-by-step, face-by-face, culture-by-culture, visual-landscape by visual-landscape.



About the author, Adam

Adam is the design director of BrandCraft. BrandCraft is a branding and design consultancy based in Hong Kong. We specialise in branding, visual identity, corporate identity and rebranding.

Adam is a branding consultant and has worked with clients in the UK, USA, Hong Kong, Tokyo, South Korea and China. He has had self-initiated art and design projects exhibited at various galleries and museums including the Victoria & Albert Museum of Art and Design and regularly writes about branding and design theory.

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