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From humble Hong Kong boy to world-renowned lighting designer—Tino Kwan looks back on his 40 years in business, and the short film that’s been released to mark this milestone
Think about one of your favourite spaces in the world—it could be your favourite room at home, it could be a restaurant or bar, perhaps a hotel. Now recognise the light that you’ve envisioned in this space. Involuntarily, purely from instinct, you’ve chosen a level of light that you love. A warmth or coolness that brings joy and comfort.

Hong Kong-based lighting designer Tino Kwan has been bringing that light into people’s lives for 40 years. “Lighting is a very emotional element. I think emotion is what makes the difference between good lighting and exceptional lighting,” says Kwan, dressed in a silk suit and thick-framed glasses. We’re at the St. Regis, Hong Kong—one of his most recent projects. Opened in April last year, Kwan designed the hotel’s lighting from top to bottom, evoking different moods as guests move from the welcoming glow of the lobby to the romantic, soft light that illuminates its suites.

I ask Kwan how he would describe the vibe of the St. Regis Hong Kong. He looks around the room, pausing to take stock of his lighting fixtures. Then, visibly satisfied, he says, “I would say it’s very gracious and cosy.”

Despite the calibre of his projects—he’s the man behind the lighting at such icons as Raffles Singapore, Grand Hyatt Hotel in Shanghai, IFC Mall in Hong Kong, and Four Seasons Hotel in Seoul, to name a few—it’s rare that Kwan revisits them. One exception, though, is the Peninsula Tokyo.

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January 2020