Hong Yi, who goes by the nickname ‘Red’, is a Malaysian artist-architect. She was given the nickname because her name, Hong, sounds like the word ‘red’ in Mandarin. Red’s grandparents and father left Shanghai, China in the ’60s during the start of the Cultural Revolution and moved to Malaysia where she was born and raised. Growing up, she heard stories about how life in China, but never imagined that one day she would find herself going to China to work.
After graduating from university in Australia, she took up an offer to work for Australian architecture firm HASSELL in their Shanghai office, and was completely taken with the city. The city’s contradicting charms and chaos inspired her to start creating art using local everyday materials as her medium.
Known as the artist who ‘loves to paint, but not with a paintbrush’, her works have been featured by media around the world including Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, ABC, CNN, NBC and the Daily Mail. Her works have been viewed by millions on both Youtube and Youku. She has worked with clients such as Hewlett Packard, Unilever, Nespresso, AT&T, BBDO, Mercedes Benz, Esquire and Astro, was invited as a presenter at the 6th and 7th EG Conference in Monterey, California, at TEDxkl 2013 in Kuala Lumpur, at the APEC Young Entrepreneur’s Summit 2013 in Beijing, and lectured in design universities Domus Academy and NABA in Milan. She was named Esquire Magazine’s ’12 Brilliant Malaysians’ of 2013 and given Perspective Global Hong Kong’s 2013 ’40 Under 40 Designers’ award.
Red currently runs her own design studio and lives and works between Shanghai and Malaysia. She wants to continue to use mundane, ordinary and often overlooked objects to make beautiful art and through her art and the internet, connect people throughout the world.
Photography by Louis Pang