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The 23rd American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) Southeast Asia and Greater China Convention was held in Xi’an Westin hotel from June 21 to 22 in 2018. Kinney Chan, the founder of Kinney Chan & Associates, was invited to share his design philosophy and sustainability beliefs at the convention.


Kinney is named as the space magician of the F&B industry. He has designed over 400 restaurants throughout his career with his own unique understanding of cultural inclusivity and belief in sustainability. His work in the “HuiJing Restaurant” has been awarded the LEED Gold certification. This ethical outlook coincides perfectly with AHEC’s values.

The first piece Kinney introduced in his speech was a cup themed with sustainability. “I used ‘people’ to design this sustainability symbol because it’s difficult to further sustainability by yourself. Only with the strength of many is sustainability achievable. We must work together so we can go further,” he explained.

On the topic of interior design trends, Kinney said that design is for the people, especially commercial projects. To understand design trends, we must understand the main consumer groups. In recent years, the main age groups of middle to high-end hotels and restaurants have dropped significantly, moving from the 35-50 age group to the 25-40 age group. Correspondingly, designs have shifted from luxury to leisure to meet the younger generation’s pursuit of relaxation, comfort and artistic values.

A successful design not only meets the needs of the consumer, but also embodies its theme and preferably stimulates discussion; all of which are Kinney’s expertise.

Kinney’s style of design is diverse, but regardless of style, American hardwood is usually included because of its comforting feel. His perception of trends and fashion is inseparable from his love of wood. Kinney says, “trends are like fast food, designs should not be made to last three to five years. I prefer traditional materials like wood and glass. These types of materials do not become less desirable over time. Particularly wood, it’s strong, textured and environmentally friendly.”

For American hardwoods, Kinney prefers species like walnut, oak and ash. He thinks that American hardwood has the ideal level of flexibility and an intimate color, making it easy to shape. At the same time, American hardwood resonates with the modern era’s desire for natural aesthetics. Whether it’s for furniture, flooring or decoration, wood is a very reliable material. For designers, sustainability considerations have also gained importance. American hardwood comes from forests with sustainable management that allows designers to use it with confidence.

Whether it’s for small projects or major assignments, Kinney avoids being influenced by his experience and insists on innovating new possibilities. He says, “experimenting brings new possibilities and new experiences brings greater enjoyment. I like the fresh feeling brought on by endlessly experimenting and exploring new experiences. This holds true in design as well. Design is not just an aesthetic puzzle, it’s also an effective medium to guide lifestyle changes.”

Kinney Chan’s Profile    

Kinney obtained his BA in Interior Design from Demonfort University, UK. Prior to returning to Hong Kong and founding KCA, he spent two years working in Manchester. Kinney is the former chairman of the Hong Kong Interior Design Association and the former director of the Hong Kong Design Centre. He established his own design company – Kinney Chan and Associates in 1996.

His projects have won numbers of international awards, including A’Design Award in 2015; iF Communication Design Award in 2014 and 2009; JCD Award 2014, Gold Key Award 2013, Best of the Year Honoree 2012; Hong Kong Ten Outstanding Designers Award in 2012; Asia Pacific Interior Design Awards in 2001, and for many times awarded as one of the Best Interior Designer Worldwide in Andrew Martin International Awards.

Case Introduction

This Japanese-inspired design has a contemporary interior design aesthetic and simple quietude.


Absolut Icebar mixes American hardwood with ice sculptures
The Icebar presents an exciting and stimulating visual to customers looking for a new hangout by effectively combining cold ice with warm timber and red lights.


Plaza Premium Lounge is a contemporary airport lounge situated in the Hong Kong International Airport. Made with American hardwood, the lounge is presents a modern and relaxing atmosphere.

Plaza Premium Lounge - International Departures
Plaza Premium Lounge - International Departures
Plaza Premium Lounge - International Departures

About American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC)

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), headquartered in Washington DC, USA, is the leading international trade association for the US hardwood industry. AHEC represents the committed exporters among US hardwood companies and all major US hardwood production trade associations. Concentrating on providing architects, designers, traders, processors and end-users with technical information on the range of species, products and sources supply.

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) Southeast Asia and Greater China (SEA & GRCH) office was opened in Hong Kong in 1992 to serve and oversee nine Asian markets including Mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam.

For more details, please visit the AHEC Southeast Asia & Greater China website: