Completion: September 2017
Invited by a couple moving into Parkview Hong Kong, HIR studio helped to renovate their apartment into a modern exotic retreat, by interplaying geometrical textures, colours and local crafts.
" The character is both local & western, blending in chinoiserie & exoticism ; It is very Hong Kong "
The Asian couple has an intriguing personality. Being a young entrepreneur: she is adventurous, sensitive and clear about what she aspires for; he is appreciative of cool designs.
Since they returned to HK from abroad, the couple has been overwhelmed with work every day. Travelling on vacations is the only precious time when they could take a refreshing break. From southeast Asia to Northern Africa, the escapists love to visit anywhere, and bring back pieces of souvenirs.
Crowning a peak amidst the lush Tai Tam Country Park, this beautiful apartment views towards the mountainous greenery on its south. Upon entering the flat, the hallway leads one into the main spaces with living and dining areas on either sides. Behind the corridor there are three rooms, two of which are on-suites, where the master bedroom is featured by its rounded windows in double glazing. The kitchen is next to the dining, and is connected to the maids room and back-stairs.
Tailored material palette manifests the residents' love for black and white; And inspired by materiality of a courtyard in an exotic retreat, the new design is an exemplary interplay of monochromatic and contrasting texture, with tints of greens and light brass. Shades vary from ceramic tiles, stones, timber-veins, to hand-crafted plastering, silk-like upholstery, further adorned by soft rugs and fabrics in wool, and vivacious greenery. Hard and soft textures blend in, and the repertoire is jazzed up by the family's collections, featuring a petrified wood sculpture, and a porcelain vase, which shimmer with a sense of history as well as a Chinese blessing.
" Living room is similar to the courtyard in a Moroccan Riad "
All main spaces in the apartment are demarcated by floating light coves, outlining the ambiences with diffused up-lights.
At the heart of the flat, the living room is haloed by a black light cove, which contrasts the white ceiling as stark as a courtyard under sunlight. The whole family gather here to chat on couches, to watch tv, to play with kids on the carpet, or to share a pot of tea in the breeze. The couch sits on a wool-woven orange rug, complemented by a metallic coffee table and some plushy ottomans. The bookshelves behind create a niche in the middle, where the wall is plastered in hand-crafted texture, and is adorned with a royal-green Chinese-styled cabinet collected by the owners.
" Niches are where the gems are displayed. "
We strategically insert niches into different spaces, exhibiting different facets of the residents' lives.
Along the entrance hallway, we lined one side with shoe cabinets which integrate the black niches, housing the precious artworks inherited from the owner's family. The collection includes an antique Chinese porcelain vase, and a heavy petrified wood art piece symbolising blessings from nature. Both art pieces are Chinese-styled, revealing the residents' family root and their exquisite taste on antiquities. The art niches are back-lit, turning the entrance corridor into an exhibitive galleria, which can further be furnished by hanging paintings and photography pieces on the opposite wall.
The niches are distinctive with sensuous colours and textures, framing different activities in the retreat.
In the bathrooms we shade the niches green, marking it as the backdrops for washing in front of the mirrors. At the winery corner, the niche is cladded in black marble, and highlighted by a brass-coloured wine cabinet.
We reinterpreted the niche into open-shelves in the study room, on which the triangular patterns structure the way the books may lean on. The kitchen niche is finished with black rustic textures, assigning the space for food preparation under the diffused back lights.
" Reinterpreting patterns "
Pattern has been wiped off from minimalism designs, because pattern was seen as ornament. Yet it is not always unnecessary. In an exotic retreat, may it be in Morocco or China, pattern reveals a city's culture and stories; While in a modern home, geometrical pattern gives the place character and comprehensible details that one could remember.
" Geometrical textures enrich layers of space "
We reinterpreted the Moorish patterns into simple geometries, at a scale that enrich significantly the textures of spaces. Geometrical patterns give a coherent vibe to the whole interiors, invoking memories upon different spaces.
The public areas are paved in black timber-veined planks,which are laid in a herring-bone pattern, expressing a sense of freedom, recklessness, and a relaxing mood always found in a retreat.
Entering the bathrooms, the black floor and white walls gives a sharp spatial clarity. We introduced niches in green where the mirror cabinets are hanged against. Olive green fragments into rhombus shaped tiles, which, in various textures and shades, are meticulously positioned to create gradations of colours, radiating from the centre towards the edge of the canvas.
" Black, on Black"
At the kitchen preparation counter, a black niche is inserted into the full-height white cupboard. Diagonally laid tiles span across the backdrop, playing black on black, like a crunchy infill being sandwiched,and is highlighted by the back-lit wall-washing lights.
Study room is a private realm for the new father, and it displays the exquisite masculinity through juxtaposing black and white geometries. Diagonal gestures are brushed upon the wardrobes in a reckless rhythm, creating rich textures in black; Open shelves, which are like niches in the wall, are overlaid in triangles, tilting the book dividers that create unique trapezoidal spaces.
To the end of the corridor is the baby's room, highlighted by a wardrobe in white herringbone patterns, of which the joints are painted in champagne gold, expressing a vibe of joyfulness while corresponding with other geometrical textures in the apartment.
Towards a smaller scale, the geometrical interplay is integrated into louvre designs, for air-conditioning at the ceiling and ventilation grille for computers. The black louvre geometry corresponds with the herringbone diagonals, generated from sketches into a unique perforation, and are custom-made by laser-cutting. The air grilles are as functional as they are unique. The coherent language creates a unique vibe for the whole interiors, infuses it with personality and renders it a remarkable resort to remember
" Artistry "
To create a timeless sense of exoticism, our design manifests an interplay of textural materials in monochromatic tones, complemented by greens and light brass; Tangible materials are juxtaposed in geometries lined with chic details;
classy artworks and furniture blends in, exhibiting the owners' love for contemporary and oriental antique crafts.
Hong Kong is not completely stripped of craftsmanship, yet. There are still places, like antique or second-hand shops, where local crafts are easily accessible. Traditional accessories and crafts could look contemporary rather than dated; and thanks to the cosmopolitan state of the city, we are also exposed to items crafted in foreign lands, may it be a Moroccan tapestry or a Danish table lamp. We blend all these together with the local contractors, some of whom excels in crafts, to create artistic pieces that reveals the beauty of artistry, or the process of making them. Our design is therefore a fusion of crafts from different spaces and time; and it is crafts that we love, that people usually favour, over monotonous pieces rolled out of a factory machine.
" Crafts from different spaces and times blend in; it is favoured over monotonous pieces rolled out of a factory machine. "
In master bedroom, the full height cabinets are lined with a handwoven silk upholstery, a mural depicting some Chinese cranes flapping about beneath a magnificent tree. The subtly goldish silk was woven in Thailand, in 3 by 2 metres, followed by three months of hand-brush paintings in Hangzhou, China. Black and whites are brushed against the finely sparkling canvas in a contemporary Chinese style. We mounted the master-piece into six wardrobe doors in nickel-silver frames,and adorn it with the chic metal door handles - acquired from the local antique shops in Lascar Row. The circular handles are made of hammered brass by craftsman, dangling a tassel in cords, and it reminds one of the ancient door handles in old China. This meticulous blend of details has created a glistening artwork, which fuses the crafts and flavours from different cities and time. It stands elegantly, amidst the monochromatic tone, as the centre piece in the bedroom.
Rhombus-shaped tiles are laid at the niches in bathrooms, where the green colour shades in several tones with some mix in blacks or whites. HIR arranges the colours and textures with precarious precision, so that the shades radiate outwards gently from the basins. To guarantee the tiles to be laid in its best composition, we dry-laid the mock-up at site with the tile-laying worker, and marked every tile with numbers, before they were actually stuck onto the concrete wall.
A large extent of the white walls are plastered into a unique texture, in a finish called Perlata, which expresses the roller twirls and brush traces of the craftsmen. The subtly shimmering and curvilineal movements create depths to the wall, while on a pragmatic side, the finish is particularly durable, high in scrub and stain resistance. The new and young mother particularly loves it. She used to grow up in a house where all walls were plastered in a similar way; and in her memory, the plastered wall was tough yet warm to touch with hands. So in this new home where she is going to have her first child, she'd like to reconstruct a familiar environment. This is a crafted wall layered with textures and shadows, skills and art, and most important of all, the memories.
" This is a crafted wall layered with textures and shadows, skills and art, and most important of all, the memories. "
Wardrobe and cabinet handles are the points of contact where we touch and grab. We selected the well crafted metals and ceramics that are delicately detailed in contemporary and chinoiserie style. They are purchased from the local antique shops. Same for the sanitary ware which are precariously selected to match the design style.
“It’s about keeping a sense of balance, with pieces that talk about the life you’ve led and the places that have stayed with you.”
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