When the Hive Life team visits Art Director Binny Hobbs at her creative office on a crisp December morning, she’s already in full swing by the time we arrived. She is tall, blonde but dark at the roots and wears a leather jacket styled with skinny jeans and black boots. She smiles naturally and at ease, she starts talking about life before freelancing and designing the festive displays for one of the largest shopping malls in Hong Kong.
“I studied Architecture but eventually transferred to Visual Communications at the University of Technology, Sydney,” she says, “I spent most of my time going on site, and it felt restrictive. However, after changing courses, I had more creative freedom.” Upon graduation, she worked as a Creative Director for 8 years before setting foot in the illustration world. When Binny left Sydney in 2014 to look for new opportunities in Asia, it was the start to her freelance career.
In November 2016, Orient Unlimited called. It was inviting her to pitch against two other artists on a project. With the theme of Iceberg, Binny drew inspiration from the Arctic with characters from the North Pole. “The iceberg idea worked well because of ifc floor plan. There are four floors of retail shops, and it’s interesting to look from the top. You can see the creatures at different heights,” she says.
Binny’s concept for Orient Unlimited won the pitch and her designs went on to being built into a three storey high iceberg with Arctic animals like polar bears, seals, walruses and puffins. “ The builders looked horrified when I explained the scale of the artwork. They all looked at each other and thought ‘it’s difficult to install huge objects in the mall’ as there are limitations with the mall because of where the elevators are placed,” she remembers fondly.
Regarding the design, the animals were designed for a heartwarming experience for visitors, “We wanted the animals to look soft and handmade. For example, the polar bears have big buttons with a craft feel to bring some warmth into the character,” she explains.
Any final words about this project? “I’m inspired! It was an incredible opportunity and would love to do more in the future.”