Shoppers in China are getting more sophisticated, says Adrian Cheng. They’re yearning for something more than just another day of retail therapy. Could art be what they’re looking for? It could well be, says the youthful scion of a Hong Kong real estate dynasty who is planning to turn his vision of “art malls” into reality in Beijing, Shanghai and other big Chinese cities. Cheng, 31, already has so-called K11 malls up and running in Hong Kong and the central Chinese city of Wuhan, showcasing local artists — and, in the case of Wuhan, urban farming — as consumers reach out for something different.
“We did extensive research in China,” the effervescent Cheng, 32, told AFP during a recenT visit to Paris to promote the K11 concept and introduce a selection of young Chinese artists and fashion designers. “We realised that customers feel very bored by the existing malls in China, because it’s a box and there are lot of brands — that’s it. You go there and buy and nothing else,” he said. “People want something more, but they don’t know what… and because our art theme is so strong, we can attract a new customer base,” he said, “a diverse new customer base that is not normally seen at shopping malls.”
The grandson of Cheng Yu-tung, octogenarian founder of New World Development and one of Hong Kong’s richest tycoons, Cheng joined the family business after studying humanities –rather than business — at Harvard University. He oversees a lucrative cornerstone of the Cheng empire, jewellers Chow Tai Fook, but with K11 his grandfather and father, New World managing director Henry Cheng, are giving him a free rein to fuse art and real estate.
THE GRAND OPENING OF THE ART MALL –K11