Here we have included resources that relate to Hong Kong design and history, but also design histories in Asia more broadly. This is not an exhaustive list – we have focused on archives and societies based in Hong Kong and the UK but we will be adding to it as we grow.
Although many of these resources are academic, we have also included practice-based or public-facing research projects. We hope to include more open access articles to the reading list in due course.
If there is a resource we should know about or an article you’d like to recommend, please get in touch!
Primary Sources in/of Hong Kong
Hong Kong Archives
Asia Art Archive – library and special collection of publications related to art and design in Asia, they have also digitised a lot of their collection.
Baptist University Special Collection – including archive of posters by the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
Hong Kong Central Library – has special collections including the Hong Kong District Collections and Map Collection.
Hong Kong Design Institute – HKDI have a Fashion Archive established since 2017, and currently working on a Graphic Archive.
Hong Kong Film Archive – the film archive is open to the public and holds material related to film and filmmaking in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Heritage Museum – library and museum catalogue open to researchers by appointment.
Hong Kong Heritage Project – including an extensive oral history collection, photography collection, library, and business archives related to the Kadoorie family and their interests.
Hong Kong Museum of History – including oral history and photography collection, library open to public and researchers by appointment.
Hong Kong University Special Collection – including HKU Oral History Collection, and an extensive library of materials and publications related to Hong Kong
Government Public Records Office – the major government archives in Hong Kong, largely holds documents and files from various departments
M+ Museum Archives – the archive is not yet open to the public, but some of the collections can be viewed on their BETA website.
Swire HK Archive Service – although there is not currently a digital catalogue, researchers can enquire for an appointment. The holdings include documents but also a vast range of objects.
BFI – has a few early films of Hong Kong.
Bristol Museum and Art Gallery – Former collection of British Empire and Commonwealth Museum.
Colonial Film Archive
Royal Commonwealth Society Collection, Cambridge Library
Imperial War Museum – includes photography collection from both official military photography and personal collections from soldiers serving abroad.
Jardine Matheson Archive, Cambridge Library
National Archives – a vast collection of government documents, photographs and files, with many still to be released. Some of these are duplicated in Hong Kong.
RIBA – has several complete journal collections related to Hong Kong architecture.
John Swire & Sons Ltd Archive, SOAS
Victoria & Albert Museum – holds the former India Museum Archive, as well as more contemporary objects including garments, objects and artworks from Hong Kong.
V&A Museum of Childhood – holds a vast collection of toys made in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Facilities and Resources
Government Information Services – the Photo Library and Sales is an invaluable source for photographs taken for Government use between 1960s and 1999
Kowloon Map Publications Centre – for purchasing printed contemporary and historical maps of Hong Kong
British Pathé – some fantastic films related to Hong Kong, particularly in the 1970s.
Gwulo: Old Hong Kong – an English language forum covering many subjects related to Hong Kong. Also a great site for enquiring about specific sites or events.
Historical Photographs of China – Another project based out of University of Bristol collecting together photographs from private collections. There are about 1000 photographs of Hong Kong, mostly from the early 20th century.
Hong Kong Archives Society – the society often holds talks, visits, workshops and events related to archives in Hong Kong. Also a very helpful hub for locating archives.
Hong Kong Memory – an initiative out of the Hong Kong Studies programme at the Centre for Asian Studies, this website is an invaluable source for oral histories and images. Oral histories have English summaries but are not full transcriptions.
Hong Kong Place – started in 1999, this database lists and locates all sorts of urban environments across the different districts in Hong Kong. It’s all in Chinese but the Google translation isn’t too bad.
Hong Kong Public Housing Database – an image database of public housing estates in Hong Kong compiled by Professor Miles Glendinning at University of Edinburgh.
Hong Kong Public Library MMIS – includes oral histories and a huge collection of photographs, mostly from the Information Services Department.
Industrial History of Hong Kong Group – another fantastic forum, more specific to industrial history, and especially informative for researching specific businesses, brands or companies.
Modernism Hong Kong – A collector of Hong Kong graphic design on Instagram – look out for other HK collectors on Instagram as well for other specialisms!
Photography of China – another great resource on photographic history and contemporary photography in China, which also includes Hong Kong.
Queer Reads Library – a grassroots mobile library of books and independent publishing centred around queer narratives. The library is based in Hong Kong, but they collect zines from across Asia and the diaspora, and recently released their online catalogue.
University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee – UWM have some photographs of Hong Kong through their Cities Around the World collection
There are also some fantastic Youtube channels with collections of original amateur film footage of Hong Kong in the 20th century, for example Michael Rogge from his time living in HK in the 1950s and 60s.
Societies, Research and Publishing
Academic Societies and Networks
Afro-Asian Networks (Bristol, UK)
China Heritage (The Wairarapa Academy for New Sinology)
Design History Society (London, UK)
Design History Workshop Japan (Tokyo, Japan)
Hong Kong Anthropologist (Hong Kong)
Hong Kong Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences (Hong Kong)
Hong Kong Studies Association (London, UK)
Hong Kong Studies Initiative (University of British Columbia, Vancouver)
International Conference of Design History and Design Studies
International Institute of Asian Studies (Leiden, Netherlands)
Oxford International History of East Asia Seminar Series (Oxford, UK)
Society for Hong Kong Studies (Hong Kong)
Academic Research Projects
Cultures of Occupation in Twentieth Century Asia (COTCA, Dr Jeremy Taylor, University of Nottingham, UK)
Design and Modernity in Asia (Dr. Yunah Lee and Dr. Megha Rajguru, Centre for Design History, University of Brighton, UK)
Hong Kong History Project (Prof. Robert Bickers, University of Bristol, UK)
Making Home: Tai Hang (Dr. Kimburley Choi, City University, Hong Kong)
Object Stories (Denise Kwan, University of Westminster, UK)
Site and Space in Southeast Asia (collaborative partnership: Sydney, Nanyang Tech, Singapore, Malaya, Toulouse, Dumbarton Oaks)
Visualising China (Prof. Robert Bickers, University of Bristol, UK)
Design Research and Publishing
Contextual Alternate (London, UK)
Curatorial Research Bureau (California College of Arts, USA)
Design History Teaching Resources
M+ Matters (Hong Kong)
Malaysia Design Archive (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
Modes of Criticism (Porto, Portugal)
Narrative Made (London, UK)
Object Lessons Space (Singapore)
Papanek Foundation (Vienna, Austria)
Participate in Design (Singapore)
Perch (Mumbai, India)
Places Journal (MIT and Berkeley, USA)
Reading Design (London, UK)
Shared Institute (Porto, Portugal)
Singapore Graphic Archive (Singapore)
Teaching Design (Berlin, Germany)
Tissus & Artisan du Monde (NYC, USA; Paris, France; London, UK)
Unmaking Things (Royal College of Art, UK)
worm art + ecology (London, UK)
This reading highlights some useful opening texts related to both Hong Kong and design and material culture, or theoretical approaches to studying Hong Kong and Asian design history.
Wendy S. Wong, ‘Design Histories and Design Studies in East Asia: Part 2 Greater China: People’s Republic of China/ Hong Kong/ Taiwan’, Journal of Design History, Vol 24 No. 4, (2011) pp375 – 395.
An essential starting point for Hong Kong design history – All three parts (Japan, Greater China, Korea) can be found here on Dr Yuko Kikuchi’s reading group website Reading East Asia. They also have a great initial reading list on art and design in East Asia.
Hazel Clark, ‘Back to the Future, or Forward? Hong Kong Design, Image and Branding’, Design Issues, Summer 2009, Vol.25 No. 3, Design in A Global Context, pp11-29.
Ackbar Abbas, Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997
Now a heavily (probably over-) cited book, but can be useful for interrogating design and material culture in Hong Kong’s socio-political landscape.
ed. Glenn Adamson, Sarah Teasley and Giorgio Riello, Global Design History, London: Routledge, 2011
ed. Grant Evans and Maria Tam, Hong Kong: the anthropology of a Chinese metropolis, Richmond: Curzon, 1997
Tony Fry, ‘The “Futuring” of Hong Kong’, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Design, 19:3, (2003) pp71-82
ed. Gordon Mathews and Tai-Lok Liu, Consuming Hong Kong, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2001
A fantastic edited volume with a wide variety of design/material culture subjects, from interior design to MacDonald’s toys.
ed. Pun Ngai and Yee Laiman, Narrating Hong Kong Culture and Identity, Hong Kong: Oxford University Press, 2003
Another great edited volume, importantly this publication is bilingual where some articles are in Chinese and others in English.
Nuala Rooney, At Home with Density, Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2003
ed. Elizabeth Sinn, Wong Siu-lun and Chan Wong-hoi, Rethinking Hong Kong: new paradigms, new perspectives, Hong Kong: Centre of Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong, 2009
A reflective volume on the work of the Centre of Asian Studies, which ran a hugely influential Hong Kong Studies programme at HKU. Again, covers a wide variety of subject areas, with links to design and material culture.
Keith Tam, ‘The Architecture of Communication: The Visual Language of Hong Kong’s Neon Signs’, Neon Signs HK: Mobile M+, 2014.
Matthew Turner, ‘Early Modern Design in Hong Kong’, Design Issues, 6:1, (1989) pp79-91.
Asia Design: Histories, Collecting, Curating, M+ Matters, December 2012.