History of Design
The Gift of Kee Wah, 2011
Title of Dissertation: Kee Wah Bakery Redesigned – Tradition, appropriation and innovation in Hong Kong, 1994–2011
Founded as a small grocery store in 1938, Kee Wah Bakery is now an international company with over 60 branches and 500 product offerings. The company’s success reflects its adaptation to the rapid social and cultural changes in Hong Kong. In the 1990s, Kee Wah mobilised design and marketing to rejuvenate its image and resist being labelled as outdated. It now prides itself as the conservator of tradition with its renowned mooncakes and bridal cakes, as well as an innovator that created a local souvenir series. Through three in- depth studies on mooncakes, bridal cakes and souvenirs, this dissertation unravels the relationship between the local and the global, contributes to the social history of Hong Kong and traces the city’s elusive identity. The company’s marketing strategies, advertisements, packaging and store designs constitute the main materials under analysis here. By focusing on the edible and its associated design, this project contributes to a less explored area in design and food history. For something so small and ordinary, baked goods manage to weave networks of consumers, manufacturers and designers together. With strategic branding and design decisions, Kee Wah has successfully coated traditional Chinese baked goods with a modern aura.
Courtesy of Kee Wah Bakery, Ltd
BA, Art History, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, USA, 2010
Research assistant, Masterpieces of Chinese Paintings: 700–1900, Victoria and Albert Museum, 2012 to present; Viewing assistant, Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Department, Christie's Auction House, London, 2011; Internship, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, 2010; Internship, Department of Asian and Ancient Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, IL, USA, 2009–10
Gardiner Travel Award, RCA/V&A History of Design Programme, 2011; Carson Webster Prize for Best Senior Honors Thesis, Northwestern University Art History Department, 2010