Max Dautresme, Founder and Creative Director at Substance

Max Creates Inspired Works of Substance

What’s your story?
As a multicultural human trying to thread my own roots, everything in my life started with passion and curiosity about different cultures. My colourful childhood helped me develop a keen eye for beauty and culture.This, combined with my desire to constantly move and discover new things, resulted in travel which influences a lot of my ideas. I am an Entrepreneur-Designer who is the founder and creative director at Substance, Scents of DAO, Things of Substance. 

What excites you most about your industry?
The blank page, telling a story that no one else is telling. 

What’s your connection to Asia?I have a long family history with a passion for Asia. Growing up I was surrounded by craft, arts, and antiques in my daily life. At the age of 2, I moved to Japan from Brazil. I spent the first 10 years of my life in Asia, between Japan and South Korea. I eventually moved to the United States but returned to Shanghai in 2008. Two years later I moved to Hong Kong where Substance was born.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong. It’s an historical trading destination that is multicultural, eclectic, vibrant, fearless, and unequivocally beautiful.  

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
From Barack Obama, “We need to steer clear of this poverty of ambition, where people want to drive fancy cars and wear nice clothes and live in nice apartments but don’t want to work hard to accomplish these things. Everyone should try to realize their full potential.”

Who inspires you?
Jeong Kwan – she is creating a life of abundance, with higher purpose in a simple and pure environment.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The meaning of the word Musubi; an abstract representation of the flow of time and connecting people; braided cords that converge and take shape – twist, merge and break. 

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?

How do you unwind?
Travelling slowly. The original concept of journey isn’t about the destination but about the travel. 

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Yakushima, for its Hinoki. 

Everyone in business should read this book:
“The Lessons of History,” by Will and Ariel Durant

Shameless plug for your business:
At the very epicenter of Hong Kong’s design revolution, our 25-person shop uses design as a tool to rejuvenate culture and local neighbourhoods, creating works of substance that make Hong Kong a place people look to for inspiration. Ever daring and ever curious, we are constantly venturing into new projects and industries including the launch of our exclusive line of amenities (Scents of Dao), furniture and lighting (Things of Substance). Throughout the evolution of substance we have developed strong partnerships with suppliers and deepened our knowledge of Hong Kong’s cultural landscape and its products.

We work for clients that allow us to do things we could have only dreamed of – with commissions spanning the globe, we are now active in Hong Kong, Niseko, Hoi An, Singapore, Bali, Flores, Paris and Vancouver.

How can people connect with you?

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connects’ series of more than 500 interviews

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Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’ and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.

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