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Humble beginnings

It all started at a small agency for Calif-Asia Co., Ltd in the late 1930s. Calif-Asia Co., Ltd exported rattan furniture to the US and had a small agency in Hong Kong. Chan Kai Wa, one of the few Chinese fluent in English at that time, worked as the manager of that small agency under a Caucasian boss. And that, it seemed, would be as good as things could get for Chan.

The onset of the Second World War changed things altogether. Chan’s Caucasian boss was captured and jailed during the war. Chan was left to run the business on his own. His boss fled Hong Kong as soon as he was released from jail at the end of the war.

An eye for opportunity

Times were tough but Chan and his wife, Leung Po Wah, decided to capitalize on their skills and business experience. In 1947, Chan Kai Wa Co., Ltd was established. With Chan’s fluent English and Leung’s business acumen, Chan Kai Wa Co., Ltd soon became a profitable business.

During the 1940s and 1950s, they operated out of a small godown at Hoi Tan Street. Leung was frequently at the godown checking the quality of the rattan furniture and constantly coming up with new ways to churn out business faster and smarter.

In 1964, the business outgrew the small godown and moved into an eight storey building at Tong Chau Street. The second generation of the Chan family joined the business in the 1970s. In 1978, the business changed its name to Kai Wa Designs Co., Ltd. Chan Kai Wa passed away but Leung continued to guide her sons in running the family business. Kai Wa Designs expanded beyond rattan and ventured into wood, iron, bamboo and seagrass furniture.

New horizons

In 2003, the third generation of the Chan family joined the business and it became Kai Wa Kreations Co., Ltd. It is now headed by Wing Chan, the son of Chan Kai Wai. Wing is joined by his daughter, Caroline Chan and his son-in-law, Danny Iskandar. Leung Po Wah still comes into the office each day to boost morale. This new team will continue the legacy of Kai Wa and bring beautiful furniture into the homes of many.

A page from the
Chan Kai Wa catalog, circa 1960s

Leung (in white tunic at left)
at the Hoi Tan Street godown

The Tong Chau Street headquarters

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Last updated October 3, 2003