2020 is coming to an end. While the pandemic has changed our lives tremendously and turned working from home and social distancing into the so-called “new normal”, it also allows us to see the many possibilities that lie in life. Parents Parents is a local art group that comprises four young designers: Jimson, Chris, Ling and Tin Yau. With each of them having a full-time job, they meet up during their spare time to create and explore the art scene together. “We studied design together, and two or three years after graduation, we formed Parents Parents. At the beginning, we’d only design products to sell in markets and fairs. It was not until our first exhibition that we officially debuted as an art group,” said Jimson. The four designers each have a very distinctive personality, but somehow they work very well together. “Our relationship is not a complementary one that we supplement or complement to one another. We are more like a shape that can be changed at any time. Just like LEGO, we can form into anything; not necessarily a tangible object like a car or a building, but a form that has the color, shape and outline that can get your attention. As long as something is fun and interesting, we will try it. This is what Parents Parents is about.”
The meeting with Parents Parents took place at TOWNPLACE SOHO, a rental project situated on Caine Road in Central that provides flexible lease options to its tenants. As I slowly walked uphill along the pebble street to our meeting place at dusk, I saw the interesting contrast posed by the new buildings and old, traditional street. When I reached my destination, the warm and comforting yellow light and retro interior design welcomed me. “We took inspiration from the iconic landmarks in this neighborhood. For the three paintings we did that are placed in the lobby, there are elements of the nearby Zoological and Botanical Gardens. The abstract form of trees is so simple yet powerful. It is our most favorite work in this collection,’ Ling explained. Even in the abstract form, the trees are still green and lush, tranquil yet energetic. The abstract paintings play an interesting contrast to the retro style of the lobby.
The collaboration with TOWNPLACE SOHO is Parents Parents’s first residential project, Tin Yau admitted that there were a lot more to consider compared to other art projects, one of which is the connection with the neighbourhood. “I tried to imagine how people would feel if they lived here and looked at the paintings. We hope that the residents would be inspired to explore the many historical landmarks in this area after looking at our paintings. For the lounge area, we’ve created a large-scale painting that faces directly to the pantry and swimming pool. In addition to the elements related to the Zoological and Botanical Gardens, you can also see in the painting the famous gas lamps and the staircase of Duddell Street. In the co-working space, which is on the other side of the lounge, there is another painting which is way more abstract; the camouflage pattern represents the trees, the black and white horizontal lines represent the cobbled stone steps, and the lines in the background are the representation of the nearby highrises. If you take a closer look, you will find even more.” Parents Parents opted for a wide color palette in a darker tone for these paintings. Chris explained that it is because the residents are mainly youngsters and foreigners, the group wants their paintings to bring in a sense of youthfulness and vitality, and that the darker tone can create tranquility and comfortness. The incorporation of three-dimensional elements as well as geometric patterns and lines into the paintings also signifies the multicultural yet harmonious nature of the residence. “In addition to being a supplement to the interior design, we also hope that our work can bring the neighbourhood indoor and be an inspiration to the residents.”
Jimson mentioned that they were given a lot of freedom to create which is a rare move in commercial projects, and they are glad with the chances given. “Our previous works were usually displayed in areas that had limited viewers, but this time, our paintings can be found in the communal spaces, washrooms and even the tenants’ rooms. In other locations, you can find local artist Kristopher Ho’s work. There are QR codes underneath each work to allow viewers to understand more about the work and artists. It’s like being inside a gallery.” Parents Parents has once worked with British graffiti artist DILK on a large-scale outdoor graffiti project for a hostel in Sham Shui Po. The work gave a brand new look to the old building and at the same time brought some new vibes to the old neighbourhood. However, street art was not well-accepted by the society at the beginning. “I did some commercial street art before, but they were considered illegal graffiti. Even police were called,” Ling said with a wry smile. “It’s because people don’t know much about street art.” As people began to see the economical value of street art, the work of Parents Parents also started to appear more often in restaurants, shopping malls, and even galleries. Jimson said, “We don’t have plans on what we are going to do. Rather, we focus on exploring what we can do. I just hope that we can create freely, without having to worry about the future.” Tin Yau laughed and continued, “I hope that I can bring street art to places where people think it shouldn’t exist; just like how Takashi Murakami brought his cartoon work into the Louvre. I want people to know that there shouldn’t be any restriction to our creative style. If we focus on doing our best, we will eventually receive people’s recognition.”
Ling said that the group rarely gets together nowadays because of the pandemic. “If we all live here and have a shared space where we can chat and work, we won’t need to rent a studio anymore.” Now that “home” can be a place for work, rest, and socializing, there are even more possibilities in living. “Having spent so much more time at home, I realized that the surrounding environment is indeed important.” Ling continued with a smile, “I also realized that I will have to spend more time and effort in making my home a more comfortable place for myself and my family. I’ll be happy if I can just have a tiny corner to myself where I can paint and create.” Jimson said, “The pandemic has taught us how impermanent life is, and therefore we started to pursue quality living.” The new normals may have redefined our life and living. However, as Parents Parents said, every tree has roots and leaves, but they can all live their own unique way of life.