HKDI Gallery

About the Exhibition

Co-organised by HKDI Gallery and Hong Kong Palace Museum (HKPM), the exhibition reveals the aesthetics and value of traditional wooden craftsmanship behind the contemporary design furniture for HKPM’s Scholars Commons. It features a Chinese furniture project by two fine craftsmen, Mr. Tse Shing Luen and Mr. Roy Ng. They will employ the rarely seen traditional Chinese wooden craftsmanship to produce the design furniture by renowned designers Mr. Samuel Chen and Mr. Freeman Lau. The exhibition will also feature video documentaries that narrate the unseen stories and insights behind traditional wooden craftsmanship to benefit academia, design community and students. 

Exhibition Photos

The Making of Traditional Chinese Furniture

“There is no definite way to wooden furniture making”, Tse Shing Luen says, “We will see what needs to be done and find a way to do it.”

Here we take Freeman Lau’s Ming Intertwined chair as an example to see how furniture is made with traditional craftsmanship and today’s technology. From the factory in Fanling, where each piece of wood is handpicked to be processed into timbers in sizes suitable for the machinery, the timbers are delivered to Roy Ng’s workshop in Fotan. They are then cut and planned into smaller pieces, close to the sizes of the actual parts. The timbers are processed in batches for efficiency. Depending on the type of work that needs to be done on the timber, they are allocated to different stations, with different tools and machinery, ready for the next step.

Before going to the woodworking machines, Tse and Ng would study the design again before going to production. Tse would make a 1:1 drawing by hand, testing samples, like the armrest, where he would discuss with Lau the curves and other details. Ng would prepare a CAD drawing to check if all the parts fit together seamlessly. Together they made a set of prototypes for the furniture series, which are now exhibited in the “Unseen” exhibition.

All the parts are connected with mortise and tenon joints. The mortise is to be made in the mortiser, which looks a bit like a drill press but makes a square hole instead of around one. Tse and Ng have their preferred machinery for making the tenon, where they find their balance of speed and accuracy. Tse prefers the cross-cut saw, where the 45-degree angle double tenon can be made with a single machine. Ng does it a bit differently by first making the tenon on a combination machine, and switching to a circular saw bench to finish the 45-degree cuts. The steps that come next are very similar, if not the same for the 2 craftsmen. One of the difficulties they had to solve was the backrest. The wood is very hard to bend because of its density, so they made several trials before finding a proper way for steam bending it. One of the improvements made with this version of the Intertwined chair is the intertwined part. Ng first made a CAD version of the part, then had it made with a CNC router. By positioning it at the right angle, they could actually get a more accurate result.

When all the parts are made and waiting to be assembled, there is one more thing to be done before assembling it, which is sanding. Most of us assume sanding will be the last step when we sand it with different sandpaper grit until it is very smooth to touch. There are certain areas that are more difficult to sand after it’s assembled, especially at the joints, where different directions of the wood grains meet. Those areas will be sanded first. After the chair is assembled, depending on the design, there will be more sanding, coloring, and polishing.

A chair is used as a demonstration here because it involves most of the steps needed to make a piece of furniture. It is also more complicated as a chair is the piece of furniture closest to our body. As Tse mentioned, there is no definite way of furniture making, and after seeing the production process of a chair, perhaps you can try figuring out how the other pieces, like Samuel Chan’s Memory Display Unit shown in the exhibition, are made as well.



Designer - Freeman Lau

Designer - Samuel Chan

Craftsman - Tse Shing Luen

Craftsman - Roy Ng

Curatorial Team - Michael Leung

Curatorial Team - Tin Ho Lau

Ming Intertwined Chair | Designed by Freeman Lau

Memory Display Unit | Designed by Samuel Chan

Online Panel Discussion

Dialogue: Traditional Chinese Furniture Design and Cultural Heritage

▎Panelists ▎

Dr. Louis Ng, Director of Hong Kong Palace Museum

Mr. Freeman Lau, BBS, Designer & Co-Founder of KL&K CREATIVE STRATEGICS

Mr. Tse Shing Luen, Senior Carpenter Master

Mr. Roy Ng, New Generation Carpenter


▎Moderator  ▎

Mr. Michael Chan, Head of Academic Development of HKDI

Events & Public Services


Online Panel Discussion


Dialogue: Traditional Chinese Furniture Design and Cultural Heritage


13 May 2022 (Fri) 




▎Panelists ▎

Dr. Louis Ng, Director of Hong Kong Palace Museum

Mr. Freeman Lau, BBS, Designer & Co-Founder of KL&K CREATIVE STRATEGICS

Mr. Tse Shing Luen, Senior Carpenter Master

Mr. Roy Ng, New Generation Carpenter

▎Moderator  ▎

Mr. Michael Chan, Head of Academic Development of HKDI


This event was conducted in Cantonese only


ZOOM Webinar & YouTube Live

Watch Recording: 

Public Guided Tours 

Guided Tours can be arranged for schools and community groups by advanced booking. Registration and enquiries: / +852 3928 2566  

Learning Resource

Exhibition Guide (Download PDF) 

Visit Us

Exhibition Period   

14.05 - 13.06.2022 

(Closed on Tuesdays)  


Opening Hours  

10:00 - 20:00  



Experience Centre, Hong Kong Design Institute  

3 King Ling Road, Tseung Kwan O, NT  

(MTR Tiu Keng Leng Station Exit A2)  


Enquiries / +852 3928 2566  

*For everyone’s health and safety, capacity is limited, and an advance ticket is required for visitors.