Located in Central on Hong Kong Island, JC Vision is a renowned interior design bureau with clients in Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Its founder, Joseph Chang, has worked with interior design for more than 15 years and has been featured in many magazines and papers.
Some examples are Squarefoot and South China Morning Post (SCMP).
We invited Joseph to let him explain how it works when hiring an interior design bureau like JC Vision, how they manage projects and whether it’s the right thing for you.
Thanks for being here Joseph. First, can you tell us a bit more about what you do at JC Vision?
JC Vision is an interior design company and most of our projects are finished on turnkey basis.
This means that we help our clients from scratch to completion, like space planning and constructions.
Sometimes, this includes the restructuring of entire house & furniture productions.
We also take care of the aesthetic details, which give us lots of fun over treasure hunts. We can find handsome substances, Lalique decanters, mercury glass lamps, couches, nightstands….. to flower arrangements, you name it.
How would you describe your typical client?
Over the years, we have worked with people from different backgrounds.
Generally they’re businesspeople or professionals, like bankers, barristers, real estate developers, professors and retired investors.
Having said that, we have also worked on small flats for young couples or bachelors.
In which countries do you currently offer your interior design services?
Our clientele are really from everywhere. We work with people from the UK, the US, Germany, Korea, India, Japan, Russia, and more.
However, most of our projects are based in HK.
But, we’ve also designed overseas projects in Taiwan, Mainland China and Vietnam, to coordinate with the local contractors as a Project Manager.
Can anyone hire you, or do you hand-pick each client?
I love meeting people and to work with clients from different backgrounds. There’s no such a signature style for me.
A good designer should be versatile to individual needs and palettes.
So, when you look at my projects, there are styles in all different forms, from a Colonial house to minimalism. I feel excited each time when working on a new project.
I’m very hands-on to each project to assure I can concentrate on the project wholeheartedly.
The only case that I decline inquiries is when I’m handful of ongoing projects.
Can you explain about some interesting projects you managed in the past?
Many of our projects are from repeated customers and their friends, which gives us a good foundation in knowing others.
For new clients (they may know us from the media), we will first meet with them to listen to their wishes.
This important interaction includes the local projects or overseas ones.
In case people seek our services for projects away from Hong Kong, we will focus on our design works based on the structural plan, to prepare the very detailed drawings for contractors abroad, and also the many email communications.
We also travel to the country to make sure the projects are moving cohering our planned arrangements –flows, site conditions, materials (if no accurate local supplies, compatible substitutions at least), details, etc.
For projects in Hong Kong, we’ll take all site measurements and to do the space planning after the first meeting.
After several meetings and refinements of layout, we will begin the site activities from removing the unwanted substances and numbers of technical diagrams will be produced simultaneously say the electrical, drainage, pathway of security system, structural & finishing details whatsoever.
In many projects, both in Hong Kong and overseas, we also help the treasure hunt to find handsome pieces from chandeliers, mirrored chests and a console table at foyer.
How long does it usually take to finalize projects?
This varies from different projects and scope of work, the turnkey projects for instance, we finished averaged in 4 months from the date of commencement to a place which is elaborately decorated.
In many cases, we even finish the projects before the planned schedule and the clients were awed by our early completion as this is rarely happened to their friends or their own experiences.
When structural alterations are required, it may take longer for foundation works and also to wait for the official consents from authority.
Do you note that more Hongkongers are interested in Southeast Asian property?
We all know about the overpriced real estate market in Hong Kong. The threshold in SEA markets are very attractive to most Hongkongers for investments or a place to retire but, at 2 points, considering the substantial land supplies and the government policies to protect the local buyers, return of real estate investment in certain countries can be very slow and modest, this includes their resell and renting values. For example, in Malaysia, people can easily afford to buy their own property after a few years of saving.
How do you manage renovations and organize the workforce in Southeast Asia?
When we work on projects outside Hong Kong, including mainland China, we act as a project manager and quantity surveyor.
We will prepare tender documents with drawings and a list of specifications, comparing prices and materials and to negotiate with tenderers from overseas.
When our assessments completed and awarded the tender, we will arrange overseas meeting with our appointed contractor (main contractor of course) to make sure their thorough comprehension to our requirements and also to answer their questions.
How much should I be prepared to pay when hiring an interior design bureau like JC Vision?
I had my degree and started my interior design business in the United States where our services are calculated on hourly rate, in Hong Kong and SEA projects, we will work on a whole project basis subject to the scale and involving work.
For example, when we design a house in Vietnam, we will spend time on the tendering process and multiple travels, due to the overseas work, fastidious details are required by the local contractors to make sure their accurate works even to the tiniest areas.
For projects in Hong Kong, it’s more time efficient because of the handy communication from site meetings, text messages or many instant dialogs, our coverage is all-round, except the design, we will shoulder also the construction works, the fee system will be therefore subject to our design, construction works and cost of materials.
How do I choose the right company for my design project?
Get knowing is the first thing first before everything.
Some designers are gurus in certain aspects with their signature styles, so spare a moment to their websites and look at some testimonials from their clients always give very useful clues for decision, they can be good but not necessarily for everyone.
For instance, everyone is greedy for space, with our projects, we love to play around the layouts to make small flats look bigger and functional or; to make the mansion grand and breathtaking from their old structures which can be very dated and inefficient for our living today.
I’m not a fan of signature style, to me projects are all unique for individual, the various styles are reflected in our completed projects and after the many years, I still overjoyed when working on new projects even they may share similar styles as previous ones, the needs and personalities are never the same.
Thanks JC. What advice would you give to readers that haven’t hired an interior designer before?
For people that never hired a designer for their projects, some of them are intimidated at the prospect of hiring one. As a matter of fact, most people hire designers because they actually save money in the long run.
Using a design professional can be a good experience. He or she will bring your home continuity, function and beauty. And it doesn’t have to go over your budget.
A designer will also allocate resources wisely, eliminate decorating mistakes and increase the creative thinking beyond the imaginable extent of the clients to make projects less stressful and to balance aspirations, functional needs and budget.
Doing homework is another important part. Even with top notch designers, no one is able to create the perfect job without your inputs, collect images that impressed you before meeting with the prospective designer, the “dislike” is equally valuable as the “like” to give a place for the designer to start creating a design for you. Listen, talk, listen, they’re all in a nutshell.
As a result, no one likes sticking to a budget. But everyone has one, be frank about the budget limitation and a design pro will help you to achieve it.