China Neonlight Advertising Company, Mongkok, makers of neon lights – vanishing Hong Kong trades

Mary Anne Le Bas has sent an SCMP article, Six home-grown Hong Kong trades at risk of dying out, published on 21st June 2015. The last of these is about one of the few remaining Hong Kong companies that make neon lights.

Leung Lap Kei, who runs the China Neonlight Advertising Company, says that, “in the 80s and 90s, the industry thrived and we made a lot of money. We made signs for shopping malls, hotels, restaurants and individual shops…The business went into a steep decline around 2008 and is now about 10 per cent of the size it used to be.”

China Neonlight Advertising Company photo Leung Lap Kei SCMP 21.6.2015

Leung Lap-kei Courtesy: SCMP

The article begins: Leung Lap-kei runs the China Neonlight Advertising Company, in Mong Kok. Neon signs were once synonymous with Hong Kong streetscapes. Blending art with industry, they helped to create a dazzling city. As the number of businesses making neon signs dwindles, they are gradually fading from view.

“Making neon lights by hand requires skill. You have to understand the physics and chemistry of the technology, and you have to be quick with your hands. Glass tubes are heated with an extremely hot flame and then bent into the desired shape at great speed, before the glass cools. This task suits younger workers. I started in the industry when I was 40 years old, so I mostly concentrated on design and marketing.

“In the 80s and 90s, the industry thrived and we made a lot of money. We made signs for shopping malls, hotels, restaurants and individual shops. The malls and hotels provided their own designs, but restaurants and shops would brief us on the colour scheme and general look and ask us to create the design for them.

“The business went into a steep decline around 2008 and is now about 10 per cent of the size it used to be. There are many reasons for this. At the start of my career, the internet didn’t exist and many people couldn’t afford a television, so they would look at neon signs on the street to find out what different shops were selling. Nowadays, it’s very different because people use all sorts of media for advertising…”

This article was first posted on 8th July 2016.

See:

  1. Six home-grown Hong Kong trades at risk of dying out SCMP 21st June 2015
    2. China Daily article – growing trend of collecting HK industrial memorabilia – including Sammy’s Kitchen neon sign

China Daily Article Two snipped image

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