From Quaint Eyewear Designer to Creative Director of a Chinese Makeup Brand | Exclusive Interview with Percy Lau

April 2,2020

In recent years, the number, category, and depth of cross-border cooperation among independent designers in China have been ever-increasing, and these designers have become a popular partner for many well-known brands and organizations. Recently, accessory designer Percy Lau (Liu Haixie) has become the creative director of brand-new cosmetics brand House of Cards. Such cross-border cooperation breaks the previous model of focusing on a single product or capsule series and provides a new reference case for the industry.

A graduate of Central Saint Martins in London, Percy is an accessory designer whose designs are bold and avant-garde, winning her love from stars like Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Jessie. J, Jackson Yee, Yang Mi. Her work is highly appreciated by industry authorities such as Kei Kagami, Barbara Franchin and Mihara Yasuhiro.

Percy Lau is not a stranger to cross-border cooperation. She has worked with Pepsi, PEACEBIRD, and designers such as Zhou Xiangyu and Liu Xiaolu. With her quaint personality, she also participated in a popular variety show and gained many fans. This year, Percy became the creative director of makeup brand House of Cards, responsible for brand image and product design.

House of Cards is a make-up brand that has been “incubated” by the NYSCPS, a unique toiletries brand founded by Yin Kuo. NYSCPS focuses on the concept of "nourishing the mouth like caring for the skin", and adds caviar, cordyceps and other scarce food ingredients to its product. Its sales reached 100 million yuan in 2019.

Around this transformation, had an in-depth exchange with Percy Lau and Yin Kuo and listened to their stories before and after the establishment of House of Cards. In the interview, one can feel that these two bold and unconventional people will definitely collide with different sparks.

Luxe.Co: Why did you decide to make a make-up brand after you successfully created the NYSCPS toiletries brand?

Yin Kuo: First, our team has always had a makeup dream. I think that makeup is particularly malleable, and the future commercial value will be great. However, in the past few years, our team was not familiar with the supply chain and dynamic sales ratio in the beauty field.

Second, from my point of view, I like differences. I think the current products are too boring. There is no single way to present beauty. I hope to use my understanding to do a different interpretation.

Luxe.Co: As an accessory designer, why did you decide to be the creative director of a makeup brand?

Percy Lau: When Yin Kuo first asked me to design makeup, I was also puzzled and curious, but his explanation gave me a lot of confidence and inspiration. When making the toothpaste brand NYSCPS, Yin Kuo insisted on creating products with obvious style differences from other products on the market. Yin Kuo thinks that the glasses I designed are unique, which is similar to his thinking when doing NYSCPS.

I have a lot of imaginary ideas and makeup has unlimited plasticity in design. So, I quickly reached a consensus with Yin Kuo and hope to find new inspiration through cross-border cooperation and bring new thinking to the cosmetics category and produce different “chemical reactions”. Why is it called "House of Cards"?

Percy Lau: Many brands are inspired by Chinese style, but Yin Kuo and I wanted to create something more interesting.. Therefore, we extracted elements from mahjong. Also, House of Cards is not just referring to playing cards but giving women and every user the "right to play cards".

House of Cards emphasizes being yourself and playing the set of cards that belongs to you. It is not important to win or lose. Of course, it is good to win. We also recognize if we lose. So, I hope that every consumer can feel freedom when seeing or using House of Cards and feel that there is no right or wrong makeup, only "is it you".

Yin Kuo: As a common word that is easy to remember, House of Cards will produce a cool brand experience and can complete a set of designs in the space and theme modeling of future physical stores. For example, opening a makeup "Mahjong Pavilion" named House of Cards would naturally provide consumers a smooth and unique experience, and form a coherent advantage in brand communication.

Luxe.Co: The positioning of House of Cards is "Scene Differentiation Theme Makeup". How will you practice this positioning?

Yin Kuo: Every season of our makeup products will include a theme. Each season's product style and copywriting will be done around this theme element. Different themes will end up with a total theme, and there will be some element correlation between each theme. For example, the elements will expand based on the logo and the color tone will be consistent with the brand tone.

Luxe.Co: Why did the first season products choose "Yaoji" (an element of Mahjong which looks like a chicken) as the theme element? How did you design lipstick for "Yaoji"?

Percy Lau: When I was designing for House of Cards, I thought I should not just use the elements of Mahjong but should create something more original. So, I used the theme of “Yaoji” to design lipstick like in the image.

Unlike the previous round or square tube lipsticks, I added a chicken claw to the bottom of the lipstick. When the lipstick stands on a desk, it looks more playful and individual than other lipsticks.

The lipstick paste is shaped like an arrow to create the first visual impact. The lipstick cover is opened and closed by a magnet, which is simple and convenient to use and has a sense of quality. To make it easy to carry around, I also designed a lipstick bag covered with hairs.

Luxe.Co: Were the 13 colors of lipstick all prepared by yourself?

Percy Lau: Yes. I adjusted the color first, and my team colleagues helped me to make the ratio. Only the texture and the color are adjusted at / by the factory five times. The factory told me that I could directly use a certain color of a big brand, but I don’t think it is right to do so.

Luxe.Co:  In addition to lipstick, House of Cards has also launched a multifunctional makeup palette. How are they different?

Percy Lau: My concept of designing the makeup palette is for convenience. So I put the eyeshadow, blusher, contour, and lipstick in one palette.

The combination of eyeshadow, blusher, contour, and lipstick is also themed makeup. Girls only need to choose the corresponding makeup palette according to their mood or occasion . It is worth mentioning that most of the makeup palette packages on the market are mainly leather, but this time we chose flannel packaging, and different colors of flannel also correspond to a specific theme.

Luxe.Co: Why did you choose many different faces to interpret the brand?

Percy Lau: I hope House of Cards would give people the feeling of breaking the rules, but not just to do that, but to express their personality. So we found a variety of "amateurs" including my best friend Angel Chen, some males, and older ladies, to do the promotional shoots. They are not the same " internet celebrity face", but representative Chinese faces. I also hope to use this to tell everyone that being yourself is already gorgeous, which is also my philosophy.

Luxe.Co: What is the biggest challenge of this cooperation?

Percy Lau: My biggest challenge is knowing this new industry. The makeup industry is totally different from the eyewear industry. For example, a lipstick mold opening is completely different from an eyeglass one, which directly limits my design. Many of my designs were rejected by Yin Kuo, who said they were unrealistic.

Unlike my past crossover business experience, I need to break some of my inherent ways of thinking this time, as if I have returned to my state when I studied jewelry design at my university. Central Saint Martins continually led us to explore our personal understanding of design, create our definition of it, rather than just teaching us technology. I designed makeup as an accessory this time and designed it with my thinking on jewelry design because makeup is the thing closest to a person’s face, and the makeup palette is placed on the dressing table or bag and looks like an accessory. Their concept fits perfectly.

Luxe.Co: What new ideas have you picked up for your personal accessories brand through this cooperation with House of Cards?

Percy Lau: Commercial brands and independent designer brands have different understandings of branding. Designer brands often have high unit prices, while commercial brands are more inclined to provide the public with seemingly cost-effective products.

During this period, I started to reflect on my previous creations. I used to launch whatever products I wanted to launch and put my brand in danger of an inventory backlog. I am currently preparing a sub-brand, the optical glasses brand Percy Lau Light, which is different from the strong personal style brand Percy Lau. The price of Percy Lau Light is more approachable and more suitable for daily dressing. There will be two models in the first quarter, which are expected to be launched in June.

| Photo Credit: House of Cards

| Editor: Elisa


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