Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Graphic designer finds his destiny as feng shui adviser


The mainland property market is so vast that it offers thousands of Hong Kong people the opportunity to make their dream careers possible, as Lawrence Tong, graphic designer-turned-feng shui consultant in Shanghai, testifies.

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Guanyu 道 said...

Graphic designer finds his destiny as feng shui adviser

Good wind spells success for Lawrence Poon in Shanghai

Peggy Sito
24 February 2010

The mainland property market is so vast that it offers thousands of Hong Kong people the opportunity to make their dream careers possible, as Lawrence Tong, graphic designer-turned-feng shui consultant in Shanghai, testifies.

“I had never thought of becoming a feng shui consultant in a non-religious country even though I had an interest in the area since I was young. Originally, I had planned to establish a graphic design business in China,” Tong said.

He now accepts that, despite setting off on a road to becoming a graphic designer when he opened a business in Hong Kong in the early 1990s, becoming a feng shui consultant was his destiny.

Tong sold off his Hong Kong firm and flew to Vancouver for a vacation in 1995.

A year later, refreshed and free to travel, he decided to take an adventure in the vast mainland market and chose Shanghai, the financial hub of the country.

Unsurprisingly, the design business was quiet at the beginning, which allowed him to review many books on feng shui, which he had studied as a hobby when he was young.

“My first client was a Chinese girl. I gave her my advice while she was giving me a foot massage,” Tong said.

After 10 years in the business, Tong’s clients are now drawn from mainlanders, Hong Kong developers, and management people at international hotels. Expatriates also seek his opinion on their office decorations.

Fung shui is more readily accepted by foreigners, he says, as it is not a religion but rather a philosophy on interior and landscape designs that originated in ancient China, based on the Taoist belief in the interconnectedness of all things.

“The need for a feng shui consultant stems from a desire to create a harmonious living or working space. I used to be a graphic designer so that it helps me know more about space arrangement. They [the clients] take it as part of the interior design.”

There are plenty of local feng shui consultants on the mainland, even though it is a country that shuns religion. But Tong has some tricks to compete with mainland rivals.

“I give international firms a proposal with graphics and artist impressions to show them how to design their offices,” he said.

“I also give them official invoices issued by my mainland-incorporated graphic design firm that I established a decade ago. Clients can easily claim expenses.”

Apart from destiny, Tong said the change in his career path was prompted by his adventure-loving personality.

“Look at my eyebrows. They look like knives. People with these eyebrows love adventure.

“I worked for a bank before I studied graphic design in evening classes at Hong Kong Polytechnic in 1988. I left the banking field and set up my own graphic design company one year after my graduation.

“When I decided to leave Hong Kong and headed for Shanghai, I took only one suitcase with me. I like adventure and I do not mind starting from zero.”

But being a successful adventurer also requires good planning. Tong did not abandon his fallback, the graphic design business, until five years ago, when he had drawn a mass of feng shui clients.

His name card does not say he is a feng shui consultant but, rather, an interior designer, and he does not market his services aggressively.

“My clients are based on referrals, they know where to find me,” he said.

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