The Intro: Getting To Know Bean Buro

Hong Kong-based architecture and interiors practice was founded in 2013 by Lorène Faure and Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui. The firm has completed projects for Leo Burnett, coworking space The Work ProjectWarner Music, as well as a recently completed office environment for Uber.

We recently asked principals Kenny and Lorène a few questions about their firm:

Why the name Bean Buro? Can you tell us a little bit about how the firm came to be?

Kenny: The name relates to our design research. Bean stands for Between Exchanges of Architectural Narratives. We believe the way we construct spaces are always on the threshold of different exchanges of factors, such as social, environmental and cultural forces. Our design research explores such a threshold in terms of east & west, traditions & globalization, imported & exported ideas, inside & outside. Buro sounds like ‘office’ in French.

We (Lorène Faure & Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui) are from Paris and London, and we are bringing our design expertise to Hong Kong and Asia Pacific, with a fresh approach to creating creative, humanistic, high quality spaces. We design for a variety of sectors such as workplace, residential, retail and hospitality.

Warner Music’s Hong Kong Offices

What areas are you most interested in exploring as a practice? Are there any areas you’re not interested in?

Lorène: We are particularly interested in the humanistic effects of a spatial intervention – a truly personalized approach to design, one that is full of emotions and humour. We love to explore new design tools and techniques (both digital and analogue), but do not overly rely on computer generated forms because the results can often be too generic. We love mixing mediums and our concepts are often driven by drawing, painting, model making and 3d modelling alike.

We are not interested in conforming to the stylistic definition of luxury which is often overly themed with decorative materials. We are currently working on a series of projects which we hope will help us to define a new notion of luxury; one that explores a fresh approach to architectural composition, materials and lighting, resulting in natural, high quality spatial effects.

Can you give us a feeling for what traditional office design in Hong Kong is like? Where do Bean Buro’s designs fit in?

Kenny: There are still a large proportion of offices in Hong Kong that are more traditional, often with a corporate reception, strict boardrooms, and cubicle work spaces for staff. In these cases, staff’s wellbeing is not always a priority and little emphasis is put on improving the working environment.

Bean Buro has earned a reputation in designing innovative workspaces through a series of successful collaborations with forward thinking clients such as creative agencies (Leo Burnett, Cheil, Warner Music), tech companies (Uber) and coworking spaces (The Work Project). We were able to apply innovative and creative ideas and create workspaces that enable contemporary lifestyles and strike a good balance between live/work/play.

Leo Burnett’s Offices in Hong Kong

Is coworking a growing phenomenon in Hong Kong? Can you tell us a little bit about your recent coworking office design for The Work Project? 

Lorène: Hong Kong is a fast moving city and quickly adopts international trends. Coworking is certainly a growing phenomenon in Hong Kong, and it is no longer exclusive for young start-ups. For example, in our recent co-working office design for The Work Project, we have created a high-quality hospitality space that caters also to medium sized companies who would appreciate the lifestyles and expansion flexibility that the space offers. We created a variety of spaces, from relaxing lounges, library with focused meeting tables, to a ‘Garden’ bar island with a wonderful vertical garden designed by Patrick Blanc.

We also introduced a generous social space that allows for flexible events such as wine tasting, tailoring services, performances, or other lifestyle driven events.

The Work Project Coworking Offices in Hong Kong

How does designing a coworking space compare to designing for a company like Uber or Warner Music?

Kenny: Our designs for Uber and Warner Music’s offices also have some dedicated areas for hot desking not too dissimilar from a coworking space, with lots of shared work spaces that are activity based. We believe most companies could benefit from allocating a portion of their workspaces for activity based work, because it promotes a much more sociable interaction, and thus helps to build the company’s culture on a communal basis.

Uber’s Hong Kong Offices

What other projects is Bean Buro currently working on? 

Lorène: We are currently working on a range of exciting projects, such as an artistic welcoming space for an office headquarter in an industrial area of Hong Kong, where we use contemporary art to emotionally connect with elite visitors. We are also working on various residential, retail and hospitality projects, including exterior art installations and façade designs. We are also cooking up some never-been-done-before ideas for another coworking space in Macao.

Can you each describe your ideal work environment? 

Kenny: We have published our research for the ideal work environment in our book titled “Big Ideas for Small Workspaces”. It is about the various design elements that should be integrated in a work environment, no matter how big or small the physical space is. We have broken the research into a few categories, such as creating spaces that feels like home, bringing the outside greenery in, creatively preserving the rustic qualities of a site, composing tasteful colours and materials palettes, as well as creating some sculptural elements to create a strong spatial legibility.

When you’re not working, where would we most likely find you?

When we are not working, we are most likely out visiting exhibitions, or lecturing and criting for different universities. Kenny was a lecturer at UCL Bartlett School of Architecture, The Royal College of Art, Oxford Brookes, Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture and London South Bank University. Lorène worked closely with Sir Peter Cook at CRAB and we annually travel back to London to visit all our colleagues and collaborators. We have been a sponsor for Unit Zero at UCL Bartlett School of Architecture Summer Show for the past 3 years.

You can follow and connect with Bean Buro on , , , and . Their website is and you can browse their .