I have met Christine Richard in Asia, Singapore in one of the most outstanding places of the city/island/state: Marina Bay, a jubilation of architecture and modernism in the form of convention centre, chosen by one of the main European design&interiors fairs, Maison&Objet, as ideal location for its first overseas exhibit.
Christine, 34, is the manager of a brand new agency, Seventhirty am.
Her exhibition stand has been the first able to make me well understand the subtle differences and coincidences between the Western and the Asian lifestyle: it did with bright, clear (in a word, with a) full range of design options then gathered in a catalogue, bringing elegance that has been written and produced elsewhere to be used and loved, so traded, in Hong Kong and Asia market. Elsewhere in this case means Europe, Australia, New Zealand…
There is a such a visible difference between, for instance, a Milan house and a Singapore one, and not only in terms of Celsius degrees and seasons: it is another world in postures, gestures, outdoor and indoor mixing&matching, melting pots and, yes, in a way, also about the wealthy state of the owner (Milan seems to be shrinking and Singapore not: trends are inverted since years).
I got curious to learn more about her, Christine as woman and entrepreneur, and about her role as design agent and distributor. Last, to discover from where she comes from and why she settled in a very edgy position: as the one who translates, better who ferries such intimate visions as house furnishing from a “planet” to another – in terms of traditions, tastes, materials and colours.
When a brand is talkative: you named Seventhirty am as the best potential time of the day, the starting of a morning. Isn’it?
Seventhirty am describes the world at dawn, when it comes from dark to light. It is delicate, quiet and peaceful. The light is soft, the atmosphere is quiet. People wake up, stretch and do a few things to be in shape like having a nice coffee and breakfast, doing yoga. It is still quiet around, and full of promises.
This name is full of positive energy, it says a lot in a subtle manner (also about the sustainable approach, the freshness of our brands, and the brightness of the designs)
You’ve also defined it as “the most beautiful time of the day, when the world is at our fingertips and anything is possible. It’s a reflection of our business vision and of the designers we represent.”. Before we speak about Seventhirty am, what about you? Can you tell me from where you come and your personal history in ten lines? How did you end up in Hong Kong?
I’m French and I have lived in Hong Kong for 8 years now. I did my first internship in the music field in New Delhi in 2001 and I guess it defined all the rest. It was probably the most intense and important experience of my life. I didn’t want to go back and thought about dropping my studies to make sure I would stay there. After my graduation, I lived in Seoul for 2 years. I finally fell in love with the city, after hating it first, but I kept the taste for travels, discovery and people ever since.
Seventhirty am opens when big and similar in scope ventures are closing (or passing online), as Moss in the USA and others also in Japan. Can you tell me which is your niche, which are your forecasts and which will be your milestones after the presentation at Maison&Objet?
We’re trying to promote and give an international presence to little niche brands and studios which are doing beautiful things, smartly designed with the earth at heart, and which we believe in. There is a design consistency through our portfolio, with only brands that have a sustainable approach and/or valorize quality craftsmanship.
The fair was our premiere, and we now have a lot of work to follow up. We will probably take part in some design events later this year.
Has your activity of entrepreneur and designer agent been rewarding so far? Which are the reasons for which you’ve settled in Hong Kong?
This venture is very new. I am passionate about it, but it is a work of patience. We have had a very encouraging launch at M&O, it is thrilling. I had started my own brand of sustainable design 3 years ago, Nookha, which is part of our portfolio. Rochele had started importing kiwi designers in Hong Kong, We both had this idea to create a selling platform for little creative labs, and we were both looking for the right partner to do it. We met by chance and things started to take shape naturally.
What has this city and Asia done for you until now?
I have my ups and downs with Hong Kong and our relationship is complicated. But it is here that I found myself. So I guess Hong Kong offered me the best present in life and we’re in good terms!
And what have you offered to Hong Kong?
A new angle, with Nookha and Seventhirty am.
Is there a happy moment in your life you remember with great pleasure?
Life is as much about the happy as the unhappy moments, one doesn’t go without the other. Happy times, I have tons, and the common point is always the link, to others and / or to myself. I’m happier when I’m strongly connected, not intellectually, just as a sensation.
What is your favorite dish? And what is your favorite drink?
Too many to describe. Depends on the mood!
What kind of music to you listen to? And which is the book or the books on your bed-table now?
I love music and there are masterpieces in all styles. I can enjoy a soulful artist like Anthony Hegarti as Nicolas Jaar or old goodies like Marvin Gaye or Bill Withers.
I suppose my preferred book writer is Haruki Murakami, for his personal and sensitive writing. He is accurate in describing the subtlety and complexity of the humankind.