As a team and extended network, we’ve been thinking and talking about archives of Hong Kong for a while. We know that as a former British colony, there is an established and formalised ‘archive’ of Hong Kong. There are long-standing traditions of collection in Hong Kong itself and the UK, but also in the corners of other archives in the world. But the space of the archive is an exclusive one, even if in theory they are open to the public. Even if the basis of the archive are as repositories of public history and knowledge, in reality it’s not always accessible.
At the same time, collecting is also part of an everyday cultural practice in Hong Kong too. Especially as histories become more and more present in mainstream debate, Hongkongers have found more grounds to open up their collections as a way of starting dialogues and having a sense of autonomy over our histories. It also reflects the many online crowd-sourced, public histories that have been central sources of information for over a decade, and these have become all the more prevalent today in everyday history-making (you can find out more on our Resources page!).
In the last few years, Instagram has joined this list of spaces and practices that serve as repositories, archives, and documentation of practices. We’re especially excited by collections of everyday design and material culture popping up through IG. As well as our resources list, we keep our eye out for grassroots archives too – so we’ll continue to update you via our newsletters and socials. For now, here’s a list of some of our favourites so far!
One of the OG HK Instagram design archives, we’ve had the chance to visit ModernismHK headquarters for our research and it is a brilliant resource – we can’t wait to see the archive flourishing in use! Their IG account is a working record of some of the latest additions to the collection as well as graphic design/typography spots around Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Historic Shops
This account has us imagining post-pandemic tours around Hong Kong’s incredible historic shops – not limited to any type of shops, their posts include tea cafes, cobblers, hawker stands, tailors and more. Each post includes a short history and recent interactions and reviews of the shop.
Street Sign HK
Following the sharp decline of traditional street signs, Street Signs HK documents the work of researchers Kingy Mak and Samuel Lai, preserving, restoring and exhibiting street signs from all over Hong Kong. Sometimes this involves some pretty off-the-cuff collection methods through word of mouth of demolitions or renovations. They also hold some exhibitions displaying and interpreting the archive, so look out for those in the near future.
Specialising in printed ephemera, 93collectible has a vast collection of all sorts of printed matter relating to Hong Kong – from tickets to envelopes to adverts and press publications. Some incredible objects, and also wonderful to see some highlighted pages as well.
Old Hong Kong in Colour
We found out about oldhkincolour through the Bristol Visualising China project blog, and have been obsessed ever since. The team conduct historical research to reproduce realistic colour and animate these images, reimagining these often iconic images to help us see the history of Hong Kong in the way we experience it today. They have a Patreon for supporters who want to see their archive of work so far! An impressive and ambitious feat and we hope we get a chance to talk to them one day.
Hong Kong Toy Museum
A fairly recent addition to the scene. We love the way that the posts reflect the dynamism of play. Looking forward to even more fun, kitschy animations a la the height of Hong Kong’s toy manufacturing days.
HK Architectural History
And we’re always excited when our friend and colleague Charles Lai shares more about his expertise in Hong Kong’s architectural history. We especially love the ‘zoom-in’ on the materiality of the featured buildings, some you may recognise, others you might not have heard about before.
Let us know – what’s your favourite Instagram design archive? Do you have a Hong Kong design archive? Share with us!