The heritage of experience and tradition is a dissemination of knowledge. This is a common form of cultural practice. But little respect has been paid to the undocumented knowledge, and there has been little motivation to preserve and disseminate it, not to mention turning the local wisdom to an economic momentum. It is even repressed by the narrow sense of knowledge economy and driven to disappear by the massive urban re-development. One example is the traditional handicraft industries – such as rattan furniture production, wooden cart making, and sewing work – that are almost doomed to extinct.
In Search of Marginalized Wisdom attempts to discover and record the local knowledge and the skill tradition in Sham Shui Po. Community Museum Project invited designers and design students to research and document the eight units of craftspersons from Sham Shui Po. The research areas focus on the production process, survival strategies and community relations. The results were then visualized to become the display panels in the exhibition. What we attempt to study is the characteristics of their business operation, and how they cope with the limited space and resources. We believe that through the systematic documentation and explicit visualization of such knowledge, we can perhaps reaffirm these values. They may even become an inspiration for emerging designers and creative industries.
Yau Kee’s wooden carts are produced with recycled materials and informed by customers’ feedback, making them a contemporary designer. Sun Chung Florist uses a modular design system to cope with the limited space. The production of both Tat Shing Rattan Furniture and Ho Chung Kee Metalwork are shaped by their narrow workshops at back alley. It is fascinating to see how these craftspersons utilizes the public space: Wah Tat Accessories not only runs their open-air stall, but also hosts classes in the same site. The business space thus becomes a communal meeting place.
The exhibition also features self-taught inventor and young designers. Hung Kee Food Stall is filled with home-made tools, invented or customized according to the needs of the operation. We also match the fashion designers from Daydram Nation with the ADPL Social Service Centre Sewing Co-op. The collaboration results in a patch work-based collection for the London Fashion Week. Tat Lee Trading Hong, the fabric goods maker, prepared stuffed toys based on their past orders for the exhibition, demonstrating Hong Kong people have taste other than the obsession with Mickey Mouse or Hello Kitty.
Hope we all have a bigger wisdom to appreciate, treasure and develop the indigenous creativities.