elevating the everyday with Alex Chan of THE SHOPHOUSE
THE SHOPHOUSE in Hong Kong is not your typical gallery. It’s a blank canvas. A meeting point. A melting pot. A vibrant hub that celebrates the prolific and exciting overlap between art, culture and the mundanities of everyday life.
Since its inception in May 2020, THE SHOPHOUSE already showcased a diverse range of artists and creatives from different corners and disciplines in its five-story building. From an archival display of Bulgarian designer Kiko Kostadinov’s workwear to a collection of teacups by acclaimed British ceramist Steve Harrison, THE SHOPHOUSE colors everyday happenings for locals in the quaint neighborhood of Tai Hang with their varied exhibitions and curated experiences.
Intrigued by their unconventional approach, we spoke with THE SHOPHOUSE’s founder Alex Chan to learn more about his inspirations and visions for the space. We couldn’t be more excited about teaming up with THE SHOPHOUSE for a series of playlists inspired by their upcoming exhibitions and a cherry-picked selection of records on display in their mezzanine study.
It’s courageous and exciting to start THE SHOPHOUSE at the height of the pandemic. Tell us more about what you want to realize with it.
THE SHOPHOUSE is dedicated to offering an integrated lifestyle experience by reconsidering basic necessities of everyday life. It is an evolving space attuned by our collaborations with local makers and creative insiders, bringing elements together to repurpose a pre-WWII building into a five-story curated hub for social, cultural and special happenings.
We really love how you intertwine different disciplines with THE SHOPHOUSE. What is the mindset behind this?
We position ourselves neither as a gallery nor a curated shop. What we are doing is offering a much more diverse experience for our visitors. People have a much broader set of interests nowadays. Someone into classical music can also be into anime, for example. As every exhibition is a different vibe, you will always find something of your interest.
That’s the most exciting part about THE SHOPHOUSE project for us. Because we don’t box ourselves to a certain style or ecosystem, we are able to explore different aesthetics and connect with so many different talents regularly.
How do you approach the curation of your exhibits? What guides or informs the themes or artists you select?
The curation is very organic. Sometimes it starts with a random topic we were just discussing, or new artists that we discovered which eventually develop into a broad theme. What’s most important for us is authenticity and variety.
Tell us more about the local art & culture scene in Hong Kong.
A lot of people consider Hong Kong as a ‘cultural desert’, which I sadly agreed with to a certain extent. Having said that, I think a lot of people in Hong Kong do not realize that a big part of their everyday routines are considered as art or culture abroad. By offering a taste of functional aesthetics, we hope to inspire people to be aware of the art in their daily lives.
What is the inspiration behind THE SHOPHOUSE?
The biggest inspiration behind THE SHOPHOUSE is the team. Coming from different cultures and backgrounds, we all have a wide range of interests: from fashion and art to music and subculture. We couldn’t really find a space that fits us perfectly, so we built our own.
We’re very happy to work together. What role does sound or music play for you in the story of THE SHOPHOUSE?
THE SHOPHOUSE is located in a restored 1930s building, which is not a common gallery venue in Hong Kong. The sound plays an important role in setting up our tone the moment visitors come in, acting as the perfect bridge from the busy Hong Kong neighborhood to our curated space.
What are you most looking forward to in 2021 and beyond?
Since we opened in May 2020, we have been focusing on the local market. In 2021, we are eager to expand our connections abroad and potentially have pop-ups overseas.