Semi-Permanent arrives in Hong Kong

Semi-Permanent arrives in Hong Kong

Inspiring minds from around the world land in Hong Kong to share their genius at this creative conference
semi-permanent hong kong
Visualised pain: Stefan Sagmeister uses his body as a poster.

Like a TED talk, on steroids, for the creative set, Semi-Permanent is a two-day conference that has arrived in Hong Kong for the first time.

Mostly, it will feel like a huge, long party with some nutty creative types (venues include clubs Fly and Republik).

“It’s a raw, edgy conference. People share their work, their lives, their passions, what pisses them off. We have people turning up in their underwear. One guy turned up in a dress because he said there weren’t enough female speakers,” says Simon Velvin, worldwide director of Semi-Permanent.

Fittingly "raw and edgy" is the poster image for the conference: designer Stefan Sagmeister's scarred blood and flesh. 

When asked to design a poster for an event in Detroit, Sagmeister asked his intern to carve the time, date and other details onto his torso using a knife. Some people will do anything for art.

The images of Sagmeister's body are now plastered on Semi-Permanent posters around Hong Kong in anticipation of the conference.

The designer is a Grammy Award winner (for art directing the Talking Heads "Once in a Lifetime" box set) and is arguably one of the world's most important graphic designers. He is just one of 15 big names coming to Hong Kong for the conference.

Now in its ninth year, Semi-Permanent is held annually in cities in Australia as well as satellite conferences in New York and London. The event will be held in Hong Kong from March 9-12, with workshops and exhibitions complementing the main conference.

Topics cover all disciplines of design and is one more step towards the city's ambitions as a cultural hub.

“There is a willingness [in Hong Kong] and a hunger for creativity but the connections aren’t being made,” Velvin says, emphasising the need for events like Semi-Permanent. “You don’t want to end up 10 years down the line and say we got it all wrong.”

Highlights of the conference include:

Industrial Light & Magic: Christian Alzmann

semi-permanent hong kongIndustrial Light and Magic's spectacular work.Christian Alzmann is part of the creative genius behind "Artificial Intelligence," "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Men in Black 2," "Star Wars Episode II," and "Munich."

As a visual effects art director at the Academy Award-winning Industrial Light and Magic (otherwise known as George Lucas' Star Wars workshop), Alzmann comes up with character designs, production paintings and produces various artwork throughout the course of a production.

Alzmann will also be partnering with Adobe to host a workshop. He will explain the process of conceptualizing scenes, characters and environments and how these enter film production. The workshop will also explore the use of special effects.

Stefan Sagmeister 

semi-permanent hong kongTalking Heads box set art.Austrian-born graphic artist Stefan Sagmeister has been named one of the most important graphic designers in the world. He is known for designing album covers for The Rolling Stones and Lou Reed.

His accolades include winning two Grammies for the Talking Heads and Brian Eno & David Byrne package designs.

Arriving in 1991, he did a short stint in Hong Kong with Leo Burnett where he caused controversy with his poster for the 4As advertising awards ceremony -- an image with four Chinese men flashing under a heading “Call for entries.”

Kayt Jones

semi-permanent hong kongKayt Jones' “tantalizing images of famous beauties.”Kayt Jones was born into the world of fashion. Her father created style bible i-D magazine from their home soon after her birth.

Jones started early working on fashion shoots as early as 16 when she assisted controversial Italian photographer Oliviero Toscani in Paris.

At 17, Jones blew all her savings on a Leica M4. Today, Jones is an LA-based fashion photographer who works with the likes of i-D, Vogue, V, VS, French Elle, Italian Elle, Harperʼs Bazaar and Esquire. Her photos will be exhibited at Lane Crawford in IFC during the weekend. 

Lane Crawford Live -- An interactive conversation

semi permanent hong kongSimon Birch's work.According to Semi-Permanent’s Simon Velvin, the lack of local representation at the conference is a response to Hong Kong creatives wanting to hear from people beyond their shores.

However this event at Lane Crawford has pulled together a few of our city’s big names for a conversation about the creative future of the SAR and Greater China. 

Speakers include founder of Whitespace Danielle Huthart, G.O.D.'s bad boy of design Douglas Young, artist Stanley Wong (aka anothermountainman), painter Simon Birch, and filmmaker Rain Li.

The panel will take questions from the audience and others are also welcome to pose questions via Twitter at #SPHK.

'Bouncing Cats' Film Screening

semi-permanent hong kongScene from "Bouncing Cats."Australian photographer and director Nabil Elderkin debuts his documentary "Bouncing Cats" for the first time in Asia at Semi-Permanent.

The film follows A.I.D.S. orphan Abraham "Abramz" Tekya through the streets of Uganda where he rallies children and teaches them to breakdance. Abramz started giving free dance classes in 2006 in an effort to use hip-hop culture to initiate social change. 

See all details of times and venues for the events at

Semi-Permanent Hong Kong 2011, March 9-12, main venue at Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, 1 Expo Dr, Wan Chai

Tickets available at

A freelance writer, Payal Uttam found her way back to Hong Kong after a prolonged stint in Chicago.

Read more about Payal Uttam