As Zenith celebrates their third anniversary in Hong Kong, we look to some of the brand’s landmark achievements in designing the Asia Pacific A+D world.
9 October, 2017
Three years ago, Barbara Schmidt’s above observation prompted Zenith Interiors to build on decades of accomplishment in Australia and New Zealand by branching further into the Asia Pacific region. As Australian architects and designers began to collaborate more with the A+D community on the Asian continent, our region began to see a regional design philosophy take shape on its own terms. And, no doubt supported by brands such as Zenith that were brave enough to jump the pond and extend the offering of their service to new markets requiring their expertise, this cross-cultural negotiation also began to see the rise of Asia Pacific’s economic and political dominance on the global stage.
Now celebrating the third anniversary of their presence in Hong Kong, Zenith is thus also celebrating an important milestone in the history of our region’s design tradition. The brand joins us in celebrating, that is, the growing strength of our region in our time: the world we designed, the world realised by our innovators, our risk takers, our thought leaders and our design talent.
Part of the ongoing story of A+D in our growing region is a sub-story of those businesses growing alongside us. Last year I reported on Zenith Interiors’ further growth across the Pacific – it is one of many stories that testify to the ongoing support of such brands for our emerging design talent. What Zenith’s story uniquely inspires, however, is a coming of age for our A+D designing beyond borders.
From the 1950s, Zenith has steadily refined its approach and grown across the Australasian region, closing out the millennium with four manufacturing facilities and showrooms throughout the nation’s major cities. With a commitment to bringing the best in international design to the local market, they quickly noticed the emerging prowess of the design community on our own shores. In the past decade, Zenith launched their own contribution to our growing design importance – Zenith Design (2009) – led by their own design and manufacture direction, state-of-the-art facilities and an award-winning suite of proprietary products to enhance collaboration, wellbeing and productivity in the modern workplace. Suddenly with the capacity to offer bespoke solutions “being a local manufacturer in this Asia Pacific region”, commented Barbara Schmidt, was integral “to offering fully resolved solutions with a customised edge. […I]t was a huge point of difference for Zenith.”
And the significance of this capacity should not be understated here. After all, according to the Asian Development Bank, its was not our oil, agriculture or global trade that underpinned Asia Pacific’s meteoric economic rise in the new millennium – it was our region’s wholehearted embrace of local industry, the preservation of our traditional skills and unique craftsmanship, and the mass-investment in advanced machinery. In the years that would follow Zenith’s further continental expansion, our region continued to enjoy growing rates of consumer activity, stronger levels of income, continued remittance inflows and greater intra-national ties between supplier and consumers. Earlier last year, I reported on how this has culminated or us, today, in the most remarkable expansion of education in world history – a confident indication that our 1.7billion+ combined middle class demographic will continue to play an important role in shaping the global future.
Launching soon in Shanghai, Zenith’s co-ordinated design effort comes as a unique boon for a united Asia Pacific. From Hong Kong to Wellington, Christchurch to Auckland to Perth, and all along Australia’s East Coast and Southern border, Zenith’s model recognises that design is (and needs to be) diverse. Their pan-regional presence declares that design is as personal as it is cultural. But, more importantly, it declares that ours is a design culture that matters – that matters outside our borders – and will continue to do so.
Late last month, Zenith’s third anniversary in their Hong Kong showroom was ringed in with a jungle-themed party that brought a touch of the South-East Asian tropics to the sprawling megalopolis. Under a canopy of vines, their showroom was brought to life with jungle rhythms that drew out the wild side of their illustrious guest list. In recognition of the environmental difficulties facing our region, Zenith Hong Kong collaborated with Elephant Gin Cocktails in an effort to conserve chronically endangered wildlife. A significant portion of all proceeds were donated to two foundations – Big Life, in support of anti-poaching, and the Space For Elephants Foundation, in support of the restoration of old migratory routes.
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