In Conversation with Grace Kwok

Grace Kwok is one half of Cowrice, a leather workshop and self-described ‘creative unit’ founded in 2003 with her husband Philip Lau.

Having started their practice in Hong Kong, Grace and Philip moved to the UK in 2022 to raise their two daughters in Bristol, where they are now based. Since then, Cowrice has added printmaking and calligraphy to its repertoire, extending its product range from leather goods to include tea towels and calendars.

At the heart of Grace and Philip’s practice is a commitment to the practical demands of family life, a principle reflected in the utilitarian style of their designs. For Cowrice, form follows function, as leather accessories take the shape of everyday objects like baskets and buckets.

Yet, it is through this simplicity of form, along with Grace’s background in fashion (she graduated from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University with a degree in Fashion and Textiles in 2000), that Cowrice’s leather products achieve their sleek and elegant finish, proving that functionality does not mean sacrificing beauty.


What sparked your move from fashion to leatherworking?

Grace Kwok:  Having worked for a fashion design firm in Hong Kong for some years, I wanted to try making something with my hands, so I taught myself leatherworking.

Can you take us through your design process?

GK:  My creations are inspired by daily life… simply how people carry and use things. This helps to guide the size and silhouette of my leather designs. Then, I focus on the material; what material you use is very important if you want to make something long-lasting. I like to know where the leather has come from so that I can guarantee material quality. I have found quite a nice tannery here in the UK.

How do you maintain a good work-life balance?

GK:  For me, life is more important than work. So that's why I’ve built my workshop in the backyard of my house. When I'm working, the children pop in for a chat or to play around me. It is a nice relief when I’m working on something tense or difficult.


Do you have any daily work rituals?

GK:  Every morning, I make a hot Oolong tea and burn some incense. The smell makes me feel more comfortable and more focused on my work.

How do you dress to be comfortable?

GK:  When I’m inside, I wear natural fibres like cotton, linen and wool, that are soft to the touch like a second skin. When I’m outside, I wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes that let me move around freely.

Do you have a favourite MUJI item?

GK:  I'm a big fan of MUJI. My favourite item is quilted soft coat.

Shop Women's Coats & Jackets

MUJI Stories