REXKL Co-founder Shin Tseng On His Work And Iconic Buildings

How Frank Gehry has influenced his work and characteristics he thinks every building should have.
Monday 7 December 2020
Co-founder of REXKL and Creative Director at Urban Agenda Design Group, Shin Tseng. Photo: Moët Hennessy Malaysia

Hennessy X.O celebrates 150 years of greatness, legacy and its odyssey this year and in celebration of this, Moët Hennessy has unveiled a limited-edition decanter designed by world-renowned architect extraordinaire, Frank Gehry.

Gehry’s signature sculptural style can be seen in the reinterpretation of the timeless Hennessy X.O bottle, marrying gold and glass to extol Hennessy’s rich and amaranthine legacy. In conjunction with this collaboration, UNRESERVED speaks to Shin Tseng, Co-founder of REXKL and Creative Director at Urban Agenda Design Group. Following his passion in sustainable architecture and community development, his wide range of overseas and local architectural design experience encompasses urban planning, hospitality, mixed-use development and adaptive reuse.


What is your style of work?
I don’t subscribe to a ‘style’ but ‘my style of working’ is Process-Driven, which means the outcome of a project is determined by the design process within a framework, without preconceived idea of an end result. Therefore, the framework becomes the parameters for the process and guiding principles throughout the process, which my focus is always on People, Purpose, Place (context), and Program.


What building would you consider to be an icon?
An iconic building can withstand the test of time and also empower for its people (even a city or a nation) from different generations, in different times. In that notion, I think one of the best examples I have seen is Musée du Louvre in Paris by I.M. Pei – an architecture that crosses the boundaries of art and technology, public and private, races and cultures, and unites everyone in the name of art.


Name a building you would have loved to design or a project you would have loved to be a part of .
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao with Frank Gehry. It looks like a really fun process from the documentary by letting the abstract takes shape and eventually forms a massive practical art piece that gives Bilbao a lease of life.



As someone with a background in architecture, how does someone like Frank Gehry influence your work?
Frank Gehry has always been a thought leader in the industry since his early days. I am always impressed by how artistic and humane his works ended up to be although the design process involved avant-garde technologies developed by his own company Gehry Technologies. Gehry’s works are the best example of why architects or designers must not be afraid to work with technology and AI but lead with what makes us human – the emotions.


Name 3 elements/characteristics that you think every building should have.
Connectivity with its very context, people and culture. Sensitivity towards nature from building design to material use.  Empowerment to its users and people around.


What do you think of the collection bottle that Frank Gehry has created?
Such a clever design which Gehry infuses his identity without defacing the iconic Hennessy X.O bottle design, it’s like how good architecture blends in nicely with its context, while elevating its surrounding.


“A clever design which Gehry infuses his identity without defacing the iconic Hennessy X.O bottle design.” Photo: Moet Hennessy Malaysia


If you had the chance to design a bottle that reflects you, what would that bottle be like?
I would like the design to be a reflection of its content, which is the cognac, by looking deep into the origin of the ingredients, manufacturing process and heritage. I would like to reinterpret the intangibles with an artistic process that will finally decides on its form.


What is the next project you are working on?
I am working with a few partners across the region to look into cross-cultural placemaking that could possibly reactive under-utilised buildings in the cities especially in a post-pandemic scenario, which we have learned that good architecture in these times should respond to crises and empower its very community in a sustainable manner.