Say hello to Eaton Workshop – a combination hotel in Hong Kong that also houses a co-working area, music venue, art gallery, radio station and much more! The brainchild of Katherine Lo, Eaton Workshop is a modern property with quirky design elements that strongly stems from the essence of social activism and sustainability. By Priyanka Chakrabarti
Some hotels try to advocate conscious travelling by blending the principles of corporate responsibility into their practices like donating soap bars to homeless shelters or perhaps and etc. But, Lo wanted the world to see her core values and responsibility towards the planet.
Eaton’s foundation began in 2016 when Lo, on a visit from her home in Washington D.C. (home to the first Eaton) to Hong Kong, assembled a group of 20 people at a bar and started to ask questions about what they wished to see in their city.
“I sincerely asked, how did they see Hong Kong had changed in the last five to 10 to 20 years, and for their passions and aspirations what did they feel it was lacking and what it needed? And, literally, the main answer was physical space,” Lo tells CNN Travel.
However, it was not just about getting more space, although, in today’s time, that is certainly a necessity in a packed city like Hong Kong! It was also about offering metaphorical space for disparaged people and creatives. Eaton’s opening weekend hosted a human rights festival, with a cornerstone presentation titled ‘Queering Public Space’.
When you walk up to the hotel, the first thing you’ll notice is an art exhibit of queer couples. Located in the city’s Yau Ma Tei district, Eaton’s front desk displays copies of the 10 LGBT-themed books that were lately deterred from being sold in the city.
The outside of the building is ornamented with large photographs of queer couples. Amongst these, one particular photograph has caught the attention of many – where one member is not able to emigrate to Hong Kong and is compelled to communicate with her partner through FaceTime.
“Having grown up in Hong Kong, it’s a super finance-heavy city, and the only place where you could hang out as a young person was actually shopping malls,” Lo was quoted saying to CNN. “I really wanted to create this space for local kids, local changemakers and creatives to have space where it’s not all about commerce.
“Young bands, they don’t have any rehearsal space, there are no venues to play. Everything is very limited, so I think they’re really excited. And, the contemporary art galleries. A lot of the best ones have been shut down, and so here we really wanted to use part of the space to build a contemporary art dialogue at the level of like an art institution.”