Interview with Zoe | Sou Design: a way of reaching out to the community

Zoe Sou

Zoe Sou


A local discarded factory in the Areia Preta (Hac Sa Wan) area has turned into a bustling platform showcasing not only Macau’s design works but also creations from overseas. Created by the Macau Designers Association, the Macau Design Center opened last month, accommodating twelve design studios, a design shop, bookstore and a café. Zoe Sou, administrative director of the center, said that in an effort to reach out to the whole community the center launched a project to collect toys to be donated to children in the Guangdong province. As design is all about creativity, artists were invited to build a four-meter high Christmas tree decorated with nearly 1,000 collected toys.

Macau Daily Times (MDT) – Macau Design Center has built a four-meter high Christmas tree made of toys. How did this idea take shape and what are the main purposes of this project?
Zoe Sou (ZS) – We had just opened Macau Design Center last month, so we wanted to launch a project that could attract people to get to know us. As a design center we organize exhibitions, education projects, workshops and talks, but through these activities it’s hard to reach everyone in the community, so we thought of other activities that could be of interest to the whole community. At the same time, we noticed that Macau families have a more comfortable economic situation now and that children have so many toys; sometimes parents no longer know what to do with those toys.
That’s why we launched the project: we collected the toys and we will donate them to children who really need them. We’ve already contacted NGOs and organizations in China that can help us distribute the toys. Instead of just collecting toys and since we’re a design center we thought of doing something different, which is why before sending out the toys we built a Christmas tree.

MDT – Designers from the center have also participated in the Christmas tree project…
ZS – Yes, we have twelve design studios here at the center and they work on different design areas, so we asked them to join our project. They helped decorate the tree. We have also worked on the recycling of the materials, because we noticed that there are so many places with Christmas trees every year, and after Christmas they have to keep all the decorations. This way our project was also eco-friendly, since we will be giving another use to the toys afterwards.

MDT – The number of toys collected exceeded your expectations. How many organizations in China do you think you’ll be able to help?
ZS – We have already contacted five organizations. At first our target was to get about 500 toys, but now we’ve received many more, maybe 1,000. These organizations will most likely help us contact other institutions. As it’s our first time doing this, we thought of giving the toys in Guangdong province because it’s closer, it’s easier to deliver there; although transportation and customs can be complex. We are still looking for a sponsor: a company that could help us get the toys to China.

MDT – Are people in Macau now more willing to help out others?
ZS – I think people like to do it as long as it’s easy to do. We need to encourage them to do it. That’s why for this project we invested on promoting it, and at first we just asked people to bring the toys here, but soon we realized it would be better to place boxes in kindergartens or service centers.

MDT – The Macau Design Center opened just last month. What’s the story behind it?
ZS – The Macau Design Center was organized by the Macau Designers Association. The association has quite an extensive experience in promoting design in the city, as they were established in 1985. But they didn’t have a space to organize activities and had to cooperate with other associations, government or museums. The idea is to help Macau designers develop into different areas, instead of focusing just on interior design or fashion. We also noticed that Macau’s design environment is focused mainly on each design company doing their own thing, having little connection with the others. In this center, we can provide resources and studios for design companies. These are usually small and medium-sized companies. Some of their staff just graduated, or some are still students. We provide them with facilities and charge them just a low management fee. This makes it easier for them to start their business.

Categories Interview Macau