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TALKING POINTS

White Christmas Street Fair 2021: Behind the Scenes with SPPA Apprentices

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• Swire Properties’ White Christmas Street Fair returns after a two-year hiatus
• We go behind the scenes with the Swire Properties Placemaking Academy apprentices to see how they brought the magical market to life

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Santa is coming to Taikoo Place! After a two-year hiatus, the White Christmas Street Fair is back to turn our office hub into “Santa’s Whimsical Factory”. Spearheaded by university interns of the Swire Properties Placemaking Academy (SPPA), the market features festive performances, handicraft workshops, tasty treats and interactive installations. Let’s hear from the apprentices to find out how the street fair came to life – and some of the exciting, unmissable highlights.

Shirley: “It pays homage to Taikoo Place’s history and engages the entire community.”
“I wanted to understand how a corporate company builds a relationship with the local community, so when I heard about this project, I signed up immediately with my friends.

We had to enter a competition to propose a theme for the street fair. Thankfully, our suggestion, ‘Santa’s Whimsical Factory’, was selected. It pays homage to Taikoo Place’s history as a sugary refinery, combining elements of factory, fantasy and Christmas. You’ll see – we’ve taken inspiration from the Swire Archives to design the gifts and decorations; and instead of the traditional reindeer sleigh, there’ll be a reindeer truck ready to deliver Santa’s presents!

I’m mainly responsible for communication, which involves talking to different stakeholders and members of the community to understand what they want. It’s certainly a challenge to balance different interests, but also an eye-opening experience for us to receive feedback from so many different parties and engage the entire community.”

Matthew: “Let’s go zero waste!”
“One lesson I’ve learnt from the apprenticeship is to stick to your vision. For this year’s event, our vision is to make it the first zero-waste Christmas market in Hong Kong. That means we’re keeping sustainability in mind every step of the way, from the decorations to the user journey. The large-scale installations, for example, are made of FSC-certified wood and will be upcycled into gifts for the community after the event. And though we have to use paper containers for hygiene reasons, we do encourage visitors to bring their own to use. We’ll also set up recycling stations at convenient locations across Taikoo Place.

What I’m most proud of, however, is the F&B voucher design. In the past, Swire Properties employees would receive a gift and market vouchers separately. This year, we’ve combined the two by using the vouchers as the wrapping paper to reduce waste. It’s a small change, but it makes a huge difference!”
 


Loras: “It’s been a zero-to-hero process to bring the market to life.”
“As students, we don’t have any experience in executing projects at this scale, so it’s been a zero-to-hero process. I’m grateful that we’ve got many mentors from Swire Properties and other industries to give us advice along the way.

One key takeaway for me is the importance of the user experience. For example, we designed a window sticker to promote the street fair – we were mostly concerned about its look, but one of our mentors suggested we make a mock-up to see it from the passer-by’s perspective. I had never thought about that before, which changed our creative process and helped us turn our ideas into reality.

Besides our knowledgeable mentors, I’ve also had to communicate with external parties to organise workshops and souvenirs for the event. It’s really broadened my horizons to meet people from different professions, from event management to candy making (there will be a Spanish candy workshop, alongside a neon light art class and a bath bomb making workshop!). I hope our guests will also share this wonderful feeling of discovery when exploring our ‘factory’.

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Cherrie: “It takes a team to build this dreamy world.”
“Unlike school project proposals that usually don’t get realised, this experience offered us the opportunity to work as a team and create something magical together. Each of us has different strengths that complement each other – we’ve got IT experts, communication pros and even a sustainability specialist. As for me, I’m mainly responsible for the performances.

To create a whimsical vibe, we’ll introduce less common music genres to the community through the festive performances. Expect unusual instruments like the handpan drum, as well as up-and-coming artists who you may recognise from Swire’s Hometown Heroes programme. I’m most excited about the parade shows, which will be a multisensory experience with dancers dressed as elves.

On top of that, there are also lots of details in the market’s design to immerse visitors in a dreamy world. It takes a whole team to build, and I can’t wait to see it come alive!”

The White Christmas Street Fair 2021 will take place on 2-5 December, with all proceeds going to Operation Santa Claus. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for updates!

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