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6 Dec 2018

The Mills Grand Opening Connecting heritage and innovation in a new landmark revitalisation project from the Nan Fung Group

(Hong Kong, 6th December 2018) The Mills, a landmark revitalisation project from the Nan Fung Group, is scheduled for completion this year with a grand opening on today, 6th December.

Nan Fung experienced the boom years of the Hong Kong textiles industry and aims to honour our own Hong Kong history while inspiring a new future. At the Grand Opening, Mrs Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), Mr Edward Yau Tang-wah, GBS, JP, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Governor of Victoria, Australia are invited to join and witness this new chapter in the Hong Kong textile industry.

Announced on the Nan Fung Group’s 60th anniversary in 2014, The Mills project will turn the Group’s former textile mills into a new destination for innovation, business, experiential retail, arts, culture and learning in a celebration of a shared industrial legacy with Hong Kong.

Once the vibrant heart of Nan Fung Textiles in its manufacturing heyday in the 1960s, the former textile Mills 4, 5 and 6 will be transformed into a single complex called The Mills, comprising of 3 pillars: The Mills Fabrica; The Mills Shopfloor; and the Centre for Heritage, Arts & Textile (CHAT).

The Mills witnessed the boom of Hong Kong Textiles industry, The Mills have rich historical background, meanwhile, we devote to build the future. In the opening ceremony, Mrs Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) officiates and wishes The Mills to be the pioneer of revitalization projects and there will be multiple use of industrial buildings, and another officiating guest, Mr Vincent Cheung, Managing Director and the Chief Operating Officer of Nan Fung Group emphasizes that The Mills carries on that legacy with a future of applied creativity and innovation. Mr. Antony LEUNG, Group Chairman & CEO of Nan Fung Group, says The Mills is an old and energetic force which rooted on 60 years textile history and is embracing the future.

Three pillars: Inheriting a legacy and heritage of applied creativity and innovation

The Mills Fabrica is a business incubator, fund and space-lab-store for techstyle startups, strategic partners, and companies at the intersection of technology and style, who are using technology to drive change in traditional textiles/ fashion/ retail industries to create a new Techstyle future.

Currently, The Mills Fabrica hosts nine incubatees including Origami Labs, Orii, Goxip and Unspun. The Mills Fabrica aims to become a catalytic hub for techstyle startups and ecosystem partners, where new ideas will spark, and game changing collaborations takes off.

In addition to providing customised business incubation, The Mills Fabrica will also fill a gap in funding for global techstyle startups. The Fabrica Fund was established in December 2017 as an evergreen venture-capital fund investing in new companies. Investment amounts typically range from USD100K to USD2M, and priority is given to startups which are connected to Hong Kong.

The Mills Fabrica also boosts a new innovation centre in Hong Kong providing office spaces, a prototyping lab as well as a retail store for startups, students and partners to experiment new ideas be it in product development or in retail. Overall, The Mills Fabrica is a platform to drive Techstyle innovation.

The Mills Shopfloor is a landmark for hands-on learning and experiential retail. Visitors will be able to participate in various programmes to experience how products are inspired, created and engaged. The Mills Shopfloor aims to become a platform to allow established and upcoming brands, food and beverage outlets and experience- makers to showcase their products and services. Shop list and F&B, please check here.

The mix of tenants is vibrant, ranging from apparel upcycling experiences to design/ tech product pop-ups store, to furniture outlets, watches and leather goods brands; breweries to cafés, and cake shops to Chinese food retailers.

The Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textile (CHAT) is a part of the heritage conservation project of The Mills, operated by MILL6 Foundation which is a non-profit arts and cultural organisation in Hong Kong.

CHAT is the first art centre of its kind in Hong Kong, with The D. H. Chen Foundation being the founding donor, and the Nan Fung Group being the main donor. Through its own curated multi-faceted programmes that include exhibitions and co-learning programmes, CHAT invites visitors to experience the spirit of the innovative legacy of the Hong Kong textile industry and engage in new dialogues and inspirational journeys that interweave contemporary art, design, science, heritage, community and craftsmanship.

Bridging the old and new
In the revitalisation project, The Mills has retained some items from the former textile mills to bring some historic elements into the present. Many remnants of the past have been left untouched and uninitiated. For example, design oversights have been preserved and revealed: the peeling paint on the walls, the stenciled no smoking signs, the structural haunch beams battered by big machines of old, and the steel reinforcements for the columns.

Retaining these visual throwbacks is one way of respecting the old times. An example is the Golden Cup gate. Golden Cup was one of Nan Fung Textiles’ champion brands, and its imagery still adorns the main entry gate at the previous Mill 4. It remains a key welcoming element to every guest arriving at the Mills and symbolises the former workers’ commitment and contribution to the textile industry.

The NF5 metal gate which was previously the main entry point into Mill 5 for factory workers, also recalls the collective story of their dedication and hard work. The Gate stood facing Castle Peak Road for nearly four decades and is a recognisable landmark in the Tsuen Wan community.

In addition, sand buckets, once essential fire safety tools in the mill factories in the 1950’s and 60’s, have been incorporated into the signage system, making a link with the past while retaining a vital element of the place through active reuse.

The mills staircases served as the main stairs for what was previously Mill 4, this space carried thousands of workers throughout the decades. The staircase is preserved in its original condition, and while its striking green paint may have faded, it keeps a traceable past and continues to build memories for generations to come.

The manufacturing era is also glorified by art. The celebrated Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto, internationally known for creating under the alias ‘Veils’, created a monolithic portrait of “Unsung Heroes” on the factory building in his signature medium of carving and drilling directly onto the facade of the original mill walls to glorify the formative generation who helped build Hong Kong’s history and economy.

Linking the former mills to the community
New connections are also made through the construction of glassbridges connecting the originally isolated Mill 5 and 6 factories. Visitors to The Mills will now be able to experience the complex from a completely new and refreshing perspective with more frequent and lively exchanges and engagement with the neighborhood community.

The large, vacant concrete roof has also been transformed into a park to provide a recreational area within the surrounding industrial neighborhood that will allow visitors to relax and enjoy the benefits of being close to nature.

The Hall, while retaining traces of the old mill factory, shines in a new light with the introduction of ample daylight into the space, forming a large gathering space within The Mills that is well integrated into the surrounding community. All visitors to the Mills, including old mill workers, Tsuen Wan residents and foreign guests, can congregate and share a collective yet unique experience at The Hall.

Murals – Full of collective memory of The Mills
On both sides of the entrance to The Mills, there are six large-scale murals specially painted by local artists for The Mills, including “The Past and Future of The Mills”,

“Cat’s Cradle”, “The Passage of Time”, “The image of spinning female worker”, “Continuity” and “Overgrown”. All works are based on the historical memories and development of The Mills, in memory of the golden age of Hong Kong textile industry in the 1960s. And the opening of The Mills will promote the development of local innovative techstyles.

Entering The Mills with Free Public Tour
In The Mills tour, participants or groups can understand the process of revitalization of old factory into a new destination. It links the history of Tsuen Wan textiles to present and build a Techstyles future merging technology and textiles.

Experiential Programme “The Mills Social Weaver Bird” Presents: Waterproof Shopping Bag/ Embroidered Fai Chun/ Handkerchief

For the first season of The Mills Community project, The Mills works with the local design brand “made in sample” and their sewing team consisted of Mom Generation I and II (retired garment workers and young mothers aspiring to learn sewing). With the donation of unwanted fabrics from ShowTex and technical fabric from The Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA), the team will create shopping bags using waterproof fabric, embroidered Fai Chun for the Chinese New Year and handkerchiefs. Participants may select the Fai Chun blessings and also embroider their names on the handkerchiefs. The Mom Generation I and II sewing team will take part in the production and embroidering processes. Through this project, we hope that the young mothers could put their creative talents to work and gain substantial work experience.

The revitalization of The Mills has been supported by various organizations and friends. Knowing that they each tries to promote creative work or advocate meaningful social changes, The Mills launches the “The Mills Social Weaver Bird” project, aiming to build a bridge between different groups and form a larger support network. The team invited a local artist, Mr. Ng Ka Chun from MUDWORK, to transform a trolley that the mills factory used to transport cotton and yarn materials, and to create a new co- creation platform. The concept comes from a bird family named “weaver bird,” which use grass and branches to build sphere-shaped nests. The Mills hope that this program can interweave people with different backgrounds and build a multi-disciplinary platform, including fields like the textile industry.

CHAT announces vibrant series of Winter Pre-opening Programmes to celebrate The Mills’ grand opening in December 2018
CHAT is delighted to announce details of a vibrant series of Winter Pre-Opening Programmes that will take place from now till 6 January 2019, ahead of its inaugural opening in March 2019.

Exhibition: TECHSTYLE Series 3.1 Exhibition: ‘Archiving The Mills Through The Lens’
This photographic exhibition will showcase memories and documentation from the development of the Mills and its surrounding neighbourhood. Featuring five widely acclaimed Hong Kong photographers: anothermountainman, Eric Chung, South Ho, Law Yuk Mui and Tse Ming Chong, the exhibition will be curated thematically: from former textile workers to the contributors behind The Mills conservation project; from close-ups of old factory objects to the changing urban landscape of the Tsuen Wan community. The event is open to public with free admission. RSVP essential with online registration.

Co-Learning: TECHSTYLE 3.2 Discussion Forum: ‘Textile Legacies: Now and Future
This two-day international discussion forum, running from 8 to 9 December 2018, brings together leading figures with a wide range of expertise to discuss the present and future of textile legacies. 14 internationally renowned speakers, including artists, designers, museum curators, subject specialists, and cultural practitioners, will gather and share their experiences and thoughts on preserving and revitalising textile heritage. Keynote speakers are Koike Kazuko (Co-founder and member of advisory board, MUJI; Director, Towada Art Centre, Towada) and Lidewij Edelkoort (Trend forecaster, Dean of Hybrid Design Studies at Parsons School for Design, New York).

Public Art: ‘Wavy Weaving Wall’ by Lam Tung Pang and COLLECTIVE
Spanning the 4m x 23m wall of The Park, The Mills’ rooftop public garden, Hong Kong artist Lam Tung Pang and international architecture studio COLLECTIVE will present ‘Wavy Weaving Wall’, a new work inspired by the history of Hong Kong’s textile industry with the myriads of individuals’ stories and personal memories woven in. As CHAT’s first interactive public art project, the ‘Wavy Weaving Wall’ invites visitors to listen to recorded personal stories and take part in the ongoing creation of the artwork through regular interactive hands-on workshops. An artist talk with Lam Tung Pang and Betty Ng, Founder and Director of COLLECTIVE will be held on 15 December 2018 at the CHAT Gallery 2. The talk is open to public with free admission. RSVP essential.

A ‘Wavy Weaving Wall’ workshop will run every Sunday from now to 6 January 2019. The workshop is open to public with free admission. RSVP essential with online registration.

VR Experience: ‘Re-spinning the Yarn’ by MediaMonks
Capturing the essence of the site’s spinning mill past, CHAT will launch a new VR experience ‘Re-spinning The Yarn’ that takes participants back to the heyday of Hong Kong’s cotton spinning industry and immerses them within a re-created cotton spinning mill. Visitors will be seated at newly designed cotton spinning machines, providing a physical backdrop to the VR storyline, created by MediaMonks and CHAT. The VR experience will open from Wednesday to Sunday between 2 December 2018 and 6 January 2019. Advance or walk-in purchase of entry ticket will be available onsite and online at HKD15 per person.

For more information about the Mills project, please access the official website: http://www.themills.com.hk

For high res images please download via this Dropbox Link.