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Applied Research Impact Case 5

Design of Sustainable Furniture for Sub-divided Flats in Hong Kong

Mr Andy Lai, Faculty of Design and Environment


Many under-privileged families in Hong Kong live in sub-divided flats which lack storage and furniture. As sub-divided flats only have limited floor area, the residents need to maximize the use of space and children’s needs are often neglected. Therefore, some school aged children do not have proper desks to study at home.


To improve the living conditions of these children, THEi Product Design Team cooperated with Caritas Community Centre to initiate the design of tailor-made furniture using sustainable and economical materials for the under-privileged families. The team sought feedback from the participating families through frequent site visits to ensure the residents were satisfied with the size and appropriateness of the furniture. If necessary, they made adjustments to the designs to cater for the special needs of individual families. This project applied both environmental and social sustainability concepts to help the families in need. Students working in the Design Team were allowed to realize their designs into products which had practical value.



Product Design Team making measurements in a sub-divided flat



Product Design Team sought feedback from a resident



Product Design Team installing furniture in a sub-divided flat


The project created a large impact on children living in sub-divided flats through small changes of their study environment. By serving society at the same time, students in THEi obtained a meaningful learning opportunity in real life. The project was broadcast on RTHK radio and TV programmes during prime time. Many local newspapers also featured this as an example of institution working in and with the community to achieve a sustainable result.



Product Design Team being interviewed by local media