The eastern stretch of Mid-Levels above Happy Valley has long been synonymous with the most elite addresses in Hong Kong.
From the time-honoured residences located on Stubbs Road to spacious apartments and homes on Blue Pool Road, Happy Valley has always been home to Hong Kong’s most well-to-do families and professionals. But for a first-hand residence to appear in such a storied district is rare, with 75 percent of private homes in the area surpassing the 30-year-old mark. Eight Kwai Fong offers the rare opportunity for keen homeowners to have their hand in a fresh property.
Formerly launched in 2015 by New World Development, one of Hong Kong’s preeminent property developers, Eight Kwai Fong was recently acquired by Singaporean conglomerate Farzon Group — it is the business’s maiden luxury residential project in the city.
Tucked behind a discreet, elegant entrance, the property was initially poised as a luxury serviced residence crafted around a mansion style and layout — you’ll still catch such artisanal details today, from its high ceilings to bright and lofty designer interiors, the bespoke furnishings across all the common areas to a growing contemporary art collection adorning the walls of the lobby and clubhouse.
The 28-storey single-tower residence comprises a total of 156 units, with 139 now selling under the wing of its new owners. Ranging from stylish studios to one-bedroom apartments, the luxury condos feature plenty of natural light, with private balconies, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a gorgeous view over the sleepy Happy Valley neighbourhood.
Homes are each outfitted with Miele cooktops and hoods, whilst a residential clubhouse features a common room with large marbled kitchen and dining room accommodating up to 10: a plus for any home chef keen on entertaining guests. There’s also a 24-hour gym, reading lounge, a private garden fitted with a barbecue grill, as well as a rooftop garden for residents to enjoy and soak up the surrounding views.
Besides being located in a quiet, safe and pet-friendly neighbourhood, Eight Kwai Fong is also set in a privileged location when it comes to families with young children looking to carve a path to excellence: It’s located in the Primary School Net number 12, the district is home to some of the city’s top schools such as St. Paul’s Primary Catholic School, Marymount Primary School and Queen’s College. It’s also just a hop and a skip away from international schools such as French International School and Hong Kong Japanese School.
Neighbouring churches, mosques, old galleries and shops, not to mention a growing plethora of restaurants and bars, Eight Kwai Fong is an address that offers a balance of peacefulness and vibrancy, with transport links that take you to Central and Admiralty in just eight minutes. Whether it’s a special dinner at the storied French restaurant Amigo or a weekend browse at F11 Foto Museum, the neighbourhood’s offerings promise that there won’t be a dull moment living at Eight Kwai Fong.
What’s more, the first 50 buyers of Eight Kwai Fong will automatically become complimentary members of Butler Asia‘s residential butler services. Conceived to be the ‘Uber’ of personal home management, Butler Asia’s services run the gamut of home cleaning, closet reorganisation, household repairs and grocery errands — all tailored according to your personal preferences so you can enjoy your home fuss-free after a long day at work.
“Happy Valley is a uniquely prestigious location in the city, and the amount of first-hand residences in the district is exceptionally scarce and limited.” said Dora Wong, Farzon Group’s General Manager of Asset Management in Hong Kong. “We always strive for perfection for every property project we are involved with and it is clear to us that the sky’s the limit when talking about the potentials of this project. The residence is perfect to act as our debut project in Hong Kong.”
Show flats are open to the public at Eight Kwai Fong Happy Valley from 15 October, located on the ninth floor. Contact +852 2818 1388 to make an appointment.
Eight Kwai Fong, 8 Kwai Fong Street, Wong Nai Chung, Hong Kong, +852 2818 1388
Tired of simply rearranging your furniture? Whether your home needs a fresh lick of paint or a brand new focal feature, here’s some home décor inspiration for design lovers, in the form of five design documentaries and series from popular online streaming platforms.
‘Abstract: The Art of Design’ on Netflix
The 14 episodes of this Netflix series offer extensive coverage of different fields of design with distinguished guests, including, among others, Ilse Crawford, Olafur Eliasson, Tinker Hatfield, and Bjarke Ingels, who discuss their respective fields of interior design, the design of art, footwear design and architecture.
‘Interior Design Masters’ on Netflix
If you like ‘Top Chef,’ then you will love ‘Interior Design Masters.’ Initially produced for the BBC, the reality TV series, which is now available on Netflix, pits aspiring London interior designers against each other in a competition to win a contract to design a bar in one of the British capital’s hotels.
‘The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes’ on Netflix
At a time when international borders are still, for the most part, closed, you can always choose to follow architect Piers Taylor and actress Caroline Quentin on their quest to visit the world’s most extraordinary homes around the globe.
‘Eames: The Architect and the Painter’ on iTunes
The first film to be made about the 20th century’s most famous design duo, ‘Eames: The Architect and the Painter’ offers a comprehensive investigation of the couple’s world, with archive material in the form of films, love letters, photographs and the extraordinary volume of objects produced by Charles, Ray and their staff.
‘Barbicania’ on Vimeo
A prime example of post-war British brutalism, the Barbican Estate is one of the architectural jewels of the British capital. Built over the remains of fortifications from the Roman city of Londinium, the estate is home to three towers: Cromwell, Lauderdale and Shakespeare. Structured like a private diary, the film tells of two directors, who are renowned for their work on architectural subjects, Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine, and their exploration of this remarkable location.
Whether you’re looking to invest in a stable, proven district in the face of uncertainty, or looking to buy yourself a bolthole for premium living in Hong Kong, you’ll want to look to Hong Kong’s Mid-Levels. Here’s our beginner’s guide to the area.
Being infamous as the world’s priciest property market with an average housing price in the city clocked in at US$1.2 million (HK$9.3 million) according to CBRE’s 2020 Global Living Report, much of Hong Kong’s ultra-luxe homes belong to a trifecta of The Peak, Repulse Bay and Mid-Levels. High barrier to entry aside, these areas have traditionally offered the luxury of space, sumptuously appointed homes, and are known as the most exclusive areas to live in the city.
If you’re looking for a home with a view, there is no better place to admire the picture-perfect panorama of Victoria Harbour than the privileged vantage points offered by the Mid-Levels and The Peak. The Mid-Levels in particular stretches from the east overlooking Happy Valley, across Central and Western along the mid-ridges of Victoria Peak, whilst the Peak area itself sees standalone mansions and spacious condos dotted along the higher portion of the mountain.
Situated in the midst of abundant greenery with walking trails, historic sites, high-end restaurants and tranquil cafes all at arm’s reach, the Mid-Levels is also easily accessible to the shopping and business areas of Central, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay — all just a quick drive or walk away. It’s also well connected to a network of prestigious local and international schools, attended by the children of some of Hong Kong’s more affluent families.
If money is no object, there are many pluses to obtaining a luxurious pied-à-terre in the most traditionally affluent part of Hong Kong — though thankfully, there are also a growing number of accessible entry price points — particularly scattered around Mid-Levels West — that make it feasible for young professionals and small families. We outline the perks of the Mid-Levels below.
Residences to know
With high-rise buildings cutting through the mountains, Mid-Levels residences all boast grandstanding panoramic views of the city and the Victoria Harbour — with equally impressive price tags to match.
For a glimpse of what is synonymous with the opulence of the area, look to The Mayfair, one of the most well known developments in the area, just 10 minutes away from Central and the Peak. Completed in 1998, the 30-storey property looms large in the heart of Mid-Levels with units sized from about 2,100 to 4,500 sq.ft. and equipped with harbour-facing balconies. Its last transaction was in 2016, where a 2,838 sq.ft. apartment sold for HK$155 million.
Mid-Levels is also home to residences that spotlight incredible architectural craftsmanship. Look to The Opus and The Morgan. The Opus was Frank Gehry‘s first residential project in Asia in collaboration with Ronald Lu & Partners. The 12-storey building is located on Stubbs Road on the east side of Victoria Peak, with comfortably sized units ranging from 6,000-6,900 sq.ft., including two duplexes with pools.
The Morgan is equally if not even more impressive, high above Mid-Levels with stunning views of the city, the Robert A. M. Stern Architects-designed tower has scored multiple accolades since the building’s completion in 2016. Featuring 34 duplexes and a penthouse on the 30th floor, it exemplifies the epitome of contemporary luxury living within our concrete jungle.
Nevertheless, the Mid-Levels also offers small to mid-sized homes. Slated for completion in March 2021 is Central 8: Located in Mid-Levels West with 99 units ranging from 181 to 491 sq. ft, it plans to offer both studios or one- to two-bedroom apartments for singles and young families.
The Mid-Levels boasts some of the most prestigious schools in Hong Kong, ranging from preschool level to higher education. To the west, the Mid-Levels is home to the esteemed University of Hong Kong. Some of the finest secondary schools also loom large in the Mid-Levels, including St. Paul’s Co-Educational College, St. Paul’s College for boys, St. Stephen’s Girls’ College as well as international schools under the English Schools Foundation such as Island School. For kindergartens, the International Montessori School of Hong Kong and the Woodland Montessori Academy both offer competitive advantage to fledgling leaders of the future.
Around the Neighbourhood
A predominantly residential neighbourhood, the Mid-Levels is interspersed with small businesses catered towards families such as tutoring centres and mom-and-pop diners, all steps away from leafy walking trails, parks and cultural sites showcasing some of Hong Kong’s British colonial past.
Ohel Leah Synagogue
Neighbouring the Jewish Community Center and Jewish Recreation Club, Hong Kong’s Modern Orthodox Synagogue has been the nucleus for the social and religious activities of the Jewish population in Hong Kong for over a century. Established in 1901–1902, the Ohel Leah Synagogue commemorates Leah Sassoon, the mother Sassoon brothers Jacob, Edward and Meyer — part of a wealthy merchant family often referred to as ‘the Rothchilds of the east’ — who donated the land on which the Synagogue stands. Nearby, check out Sabra at the Jewish Community Center, which serves kosher international dishes and traditional Jewish deli favourites. The restaurant also offers a full Shabbat dinner, which requires advanced booking (note that Sabra is currently closed until August 2020).
Hong Kong’s resilience in the fight against infectious diseases dates back hundreds of years, and this history is succinctly showcased at the Hong Kong Museum of Medicinal Sciences. It was formerly a Bacteriological Institute built in response to the 1894 Plague outbreak. These days, it’s an informative museum that outlines the scientific discoveries across Chinese and Western medicine throughout the years, as well as a shining example of built-heritage conservation.
As the name suggests, this museum is dedicated to Dr. Sun Yat-sen, influential philosopher, politician and physician, and the founding father of the Republic of China. As the place where Sun was educated for his secondary and tertiary education, Hong Kong is considered the bedrock of his early revolutionary thought, and traces his activities in Hong Kong from establishing the Xing Zhong Hui (Revive China Society) in 1894 to the founding of the Republic of China in 1912. Housed in the historic Kom Tong Hall — the original residence of local businessman Ho Kom-tong, half-brother to Sir Robert Ho Tung — the museum opened in 2006 to commemorate the 140th birthday of the icon. The museum is located just a hop and skip away from the Sun Yat-sen Historical Trail.
Dating back to 1846, Flagstaff House is considered the oldest surviving example of Western architecture in the city. It used to be the residence of the commander of the British forces during Hong Kong’s years under colonial rule. Eventually it was converted into a museum dedicated to the art of tea appreciation and ceramics. Aside from a permanent collection and revolving special exhibition, don’t miss the opportunity for a meal at Lock Cha Tea House — at one of the city’s most picturesque locations of the venerated tea brand — where you can step back into the past and sample delicious dim sum and a wide selection of freshly brewed teas.
Running along the lower slopes of Victoria Peak is the Bowen Road Fitness Trail, which is popular with runners and dog walkers in the area. Breathe in the fresh air provided by the lush foliage of palm, vine and bamboo as you go on your daily jog, whilst taking in the view of the streets of Wan Chai far below. Although a manageable 2.5km route, the fitness trail is paved, and fully equipped with restrooms, playgrounds, park benches and emergency phones. Looking for a date idea with your other half? Find the stairs to Lover’s Rock above the trail — dubbed the ‘Bowen Road Lover’s Stone Garden,’ tradition has it that women go up to pray for fortune in love and marriage. Whether you’re superstitious or not, the landmark is still worth a visit for its incredible vista over the city.
Bowen Road Fitness Trail, Bowen Road, Mid-Levels, Hong Kong
The Central–Mid-Levels Escalator
Being the longest outdoor covered escalator system in the world, the escalator conveniently links the Mid-Levels to the main shopping and dining areas in SoHo and Central. On a cooler day, try hopping on the escalator from start to finish — discovering SoHo’s different restaurants and bars, upstairs pampering destinations, heritage sites and hidden alleys up and down each lane.
Central–Mid-Levels Escalator, Central, Hong Kong
The Hong Kong Zoological and Botanical Gardens
With over 300 animals residing here including orangutans and flamingoes, Hong Kong’s Zoological and Botanical Gardens provides a fun-filled day for families with young kids. Interact with birds and mammals at a tour through its aviaries, greenhouse and the fountain terrace garden. Guided tours about primate and bird care and conservation efforts are also available.
Bathroom products have always been designed around consumers. There is a strong emotional connection when it comes to creating something that people utilise daily. When it comes to sanitary fittings, we’re usually spoilt for choice: from the latest design darling to inventions driven by smart technology.
Smart technology has also led to the creation of many exciting products that have either been disruptive or convenient. Think bathtubs with music or a rain shower that responds to your emotions.
We speak to Michael Seum (VP of Design, Grohe) on how his role as a designer has helped shape the future of water and on creating products that address today’s consumer needs. He also talks about upcoming bathroom trends and what to look out for when it comes to buying bathware and fittings.
What have the biggest takeaways in the world of bathroom trends been for 2020?
Especially in Asia, I see simpler and lighter bathrooms due to smaller spaces, but with a modern and luxe feel. I also see a lot of individualisation, more preference for colours, and finally, more technology being incorporated in the bathroom.
Most bathroom technologies and innovations come from Europe. How do European standards fit into the Asian market?
Europe is the market leader in design, but from a technological point of view, we are getting a lot of innovation from Asia. For instance, the first made-in-Japan shower toilet (or ‘washlet’) with warm water shower spray and air dryer function was made by Inax, also under Lixil’s portfolio. Today, shower toilets are more common in Asia than in Europe or North America. So actually we are taking a lot of technology and innovation from Asia, reframing it with European design DNA, and bring it back to Asia. This is a balance of the best of both worlds: Asian technology, and European design, the DNA that Grohe is known for.
What can consumers expect in the bathroom industry over the next two to three years?
We are going to focus on mega-trends to shape the future. For example, the way that people interact with home spaces is changing, so we will see bathrooms that are more flexible and dynamic, and kitchens that are more connected to living spaces. We will bring a sense of simplicity and become more minimalist, and we will see more individualisation, personalisation and smart technologies to manage water more intelligently. Finally, we are moving towards a more sustainable approach that will impact shower and water drinking behaviours.
How has smart technology influenced bathware designs?
It has altered the game tremendously. The design of our products complements functionality and technology and brings out the product as an experience as a whole. If we look at the Grohe Smart Control, for example, consumers can control the water dynamics depending on what they are doing in the shower – rinsing, washing hair, applying conditioner, and more. Technology allows a very intuitive and precise water control that enhances the shower experience.
What are some of the obvious ‘do-nots’ when it comes to choosing bathroom fittings?
I personally think there are no ‘do-nots’ when it comes to this; We have a very extensive portfolio that can adapt to many different lifestyle needs, environment and design styles. It is up to the consumer to make use of the fittings around them to make the bathroom experience a pleasant one.
What are three useful pieces of advice when it come to shopping for bathroom fittings?
First, they should find their own inspiration for something they like. Second, bring this mindset to the store and let our staff advise them. Finally, choose the product that better suits their lifestyle. If I had to pick three lines form Grohe, I would start with Lineare, Atrio or the New Grohe Plus.
Find your nearest showroom or installer in Hong Kong at Grohe online.
With lockdown soon coming to an end around the world, restaurants will soon be re-opening.
But persistent concern about the need for social distancing will likely mean that many customers will not feel comfortable with crowded dining spaces. Helped by designers, restaurant professionals are looking at solutions that could help them get their businesses back on their feet.
Here are some ideas that designers have been exploring, which may soon have an impact on the layout of our favourite eateries.
The Plex’Eat concept
Christophe Gernigon, who leads the design studio of the same name, has taken advantage of his time off during lockdown to come up with this concept of suspended plexiglass bells that will ensure a minimal barrier between customers.
The designer and close associate of chef Alain Ducasse, for whom he has designed several restaurant interiors — most notably the dining room of the Michelin three-star Plaza Athénée — has been working on a concept to protect the health of diners and waiting staff. Patrick Jouin is proposing to make use of cellophane, of the kind that is commonly supplied to florists, to create an enclosure around each table. The advantage of this material is that it can be changed regularly. Sketches by the designer also feature an elliptical barrier in the centre of each table.
In the Netherlands’ capital Amsterdam, the Eten restaurant in the city’s artistic centre Mediamatic Biotoop, has presented a concept of individual glasshouses for each table: a romantic solution for couples who would like a private space all to themselves. The project has been christened “serres séparées” (French for “separate greenhouses”).
Designer Frédéric Tabary has developed a concept for plexiglass enclosures to maintain a distance between individual groups and other diners. The ‘Plexi corner,’ which he has posted on Instagram, is also available for sale. Price: €7,500 excluding VAT (approximately HK$66,530) for 36 chairs and five modules.
It has been six months since CoViD-19, and the idea of waking up at your ‘workplace’ has become the norm. According to a Singapore survey done across 9,000 respondents, nine in 10 employees want to continue working from home in some capacity.
Indeed, an increasing number of offices don’t see the work-from-home situation as a fleeting one. An expanding directory of firms, such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, Shopify and MasterCard are making plans for a permanent shift to remote working even after the effects of the pandemic die down.
This shift to remote working has led to an increased conversation of the flexibility of home offices and workspaces, as well as future home planning. Indeed, flexible housing has the potential to be a design-led solution that suits the needs of a broader cross-section of society while accommodating to the needs associated with 21st-century living.
According to Dora Chng, General Manager (Residential) at Guocoland, “Flexibility is an important factor in the post-CoViD-19 landscape where homes suddenly have to accommodate two working parents and their children undergoing home-based learning. Homes that are people-centric and are able to help owners adapt quickly to changing life demands will be an attractive proposition moving forward.”
Intrigued, we sat down with Chng to understand more about what ‘people-centric homes’ mean and how flexible spaces will pave the way for future homeowners.
Hi Dora, tell us a little about yourself and GuocoLand.
DC: GuocoLand is an award-winning regional property developer with operations in Singapore, China, Malaysia, Vietnam as well as the United Kingdom and Australia through strategic partnerships. Headquartered in Singapore, the Group’s portfolio comprises residential, hospitality, commercial, retail and integrated developments. In Singapore, we have successfully developed 36 residential projects resulting in approximately 11,000 apartments and homes.
As General Manager (Residential) at GuocoLand, I am responsible for the conceptualisation and implementation of the company’s sales and marketing strategies for its residential properties portfolio, including Wallich Residence, Martin Modern, Meyer Mansion, Leedon Residence, Goodwood Residence and Midtown Bay, the residential component of Guoco Midtown, GuocoLand’s latest mega integrated development.
I am also involved in the product development, product positioning and communications strategy of GuocoLand’s residential properties.
The CoViD-19 situation has led to nearly the entire workforce working from home. Moving forward, do you think that this situation is something that will be the norm in the future?
Since Singapore entered into the circuit-breaker period, it has become more apparent for homeowners to have the flexibility to create workspaces at home. This will very likely continue even after the pandemic is over.
GuocoLand’s residential properties like Wallich Residence and the newly launched Meyer Mansion tap into flexible spaces in its design and layout. For the uninitiated, could you explain a little more on what flexible spaces mean in residential properties?
When designing our luxury properties, one key principle we abide by is ‘people-centrism’ — ensuring our properties enhance the lives of people. One aspect of our people-centric property designs is the concept of flexible usage which allows owners to have a choice in converting the space. While there are some commonalities in the flexible attributes of our designs, each project is different.
For instance, the facilities at the exclusive 181-unit Wallich Residence, which sits atop Singapore’s tallest building, Guoco Tower, support working from home, with a “boardroom in the sky” at level 52 and private, formal dining rooms to host business associates.
As for Midtown Bay, it was designed to give homeowners the flexibility to use their apartment for multiple purposes — living spaces, home office and entertainment.
It has been intentionally planned such that the balcony floors are flushed with that of the living room, extending the living space seamlessly so much so that an eight-seater dining table can be placed at the balcony space of a two-bedroom apartment. This frees up space in the living area for the homeowner to create his or her workspace.
Another unique offering of Midtown Bay is its two- and three-bedroom duplex units, which offer great flexibility of usage.
With these duplexes, homeowners get a choice to design their home solely as a residence or to design it for dual-use, such as having the lower level set up as a home office, while the upper level is kept private and comfortable for living and sleeping.
Why do you think flexibility is so important in home design?
Having a home with the flexibility to adapt is vital to allow owners to accommodate various use of the space, based on changing demands of the moment and different phases of life.
For instance, homeowners at Wallich Residence are mainly business owners and entrepreneurs who own several properties around the world. They use the apartment as a private office and residence when they travel to Singapore a few times a year. The environment at Wallich Residence provides a business-like setting that is suitable for them to meet associates, staff and host meetings using the facilities provided — such as the function rooms and dining rooms.
Homes that have been designed with flexibility from the ground-up will provide homeowners with greater control to adapt spaces for work-from-home needs, thus enabling them to achieve closer work-life integration — which also means greater work-life balance.
The idea of flexible spaces isn’t commonly designed and considered in residential properties — if it really is that advantageous, why do you think other developers aren’t putting much emphasis on it?
Building flexible design into homes increases the cost of development and interior design of projects. GuocoLand takes on the additional investment in many of our residential properties.
Apart from flexible spaces, what are some aspects that professionals and HNWIs can take into consideration when selecting a home?
Apart from the traditional factors like location and price, other factors that HNWIs and prospective homebuyers can consider are quality of the project, flexibility in design, the extent of gardens and landscaping for wellness, and the community around the development.
For instance, Wallich Residence only has 181 units, making the residential community naturally very exclusive. This exclusivity will give rise to a unique international community living there. For many of these HNWI, what is important to them is not just the high quality of the apartments and spectacular views, but also about the neighbourhood community.
Another factor is the long-term growth prospect of development. With Wallich Residence part of the integrated mixed development named Guoco Tower, the combination of commercial, residential, office, and hospitality components have propelled Tanjong Pagar as one of Singapore’s most premier business and lifestyle districts.
We’ve heard that there are new projects on the line for GuocoLand, would you mind sharing with us a little more about that?
Our current projects include Martin Modern, Meyer Mansion and the mega integrated development Guoco Midtown with two residential components namely Midtown Bay and the Tan Quee Lan residential development.
Guoco Midtown is GuocoLand’s second integrated development following Guoco Tower, our flagship development at Tanjong Pagar and Singapore’s tallest building with the 181-unit Wallich Residence at the apex. Guoco Midtown will become an exciting new landmark in Singapore with multiple towers, buildings and gardens sprawled across an expansive footprint of 3.3 hectares.
Our latest project is the new 30-storey residential development at Tan Quee Lan Street, located right above the Bugis MRT interchange station. It will have two residential towers with more than 500 units of luxury apartments as well as a retail podium with food and beverage establishments open to the public.
Feng shui is an ancient Chinese practice that has been used for centuries to dictate architectural creations and the spatial arrangements of properties, i.e their relationship with the sun and the orientation of furniture within.
Some see it as ludicrous — and may wonder why on earth having a bathroom directly opposite your front door as you enter would symbolically and literally flush away your money. Some feng shui teachings do sound rather crazy, do they not?
Staunch believers, on the other hand, see it as an absolute necessity in relation to abundance, wealth, success and a positive flow of energy in the home.
We’re more balanced in our view, though we cannot deny the power of our surroundings and how important it is to position your home and its contents so that it works – and flows – best for you.
Your surrounding environment is everything, and of course one of the central forces to your success. Surround yourself in clutter and see how disordered your thoughts become; surround yourself in a white room with a more subdued décor, filled only with things that you love and see how easier it is to meditate or action those pressing matters.
It’s also no surprise that certain colours can induce the flow of good ideas while others can block them out; the list goes on. There is definitely reason to the madness — what many attribute to the unexplainable forces of feng shui.
Paying more attention to your what you already have in your home, there may appear to be little logic to the pseudoscience of feng shui, but there are nonetheless laws you can definitely follow to ensure you are on the right side of the energy flow. Start with these three and see how better you – and your home – start to feel.
Your space is meant to promote vitality, harmony and joy so if you are surrounding yourself in things you despise i.e that leather armchair that your ex-boyfriend bought you from Ikea — how could he! – then it sort of makes sense that you aren’t going to be operating at optimum levels, right? In the words of Japanese organising and decluttering expert Marie Kondo, who has been warmly welcomed by the world of feng shui, “only keep things that bring you joy.”
Look at every single item in your space and ask the three following questions: ‘Do I love it?’, ‘Is this useful to me?’, ‘Do I need it?’ Please note, you may despise something, i.e. your tax return, but you most probably will need it, so just keep that locked away in a drawer somewhere. Using these questions regularly in your home will really help you get rid of a lot of things that aren’t serving you and ultimately help your good feng shui skyrocket.
Avoid mirrors or TVs in your bedroom
Mirrors are considered to be the aspirin of feng shui and used in so many other areas of the home, but one place they certainly do not belong is in the bedroom. Why? Simply put, mirrors interfere with your ability to get a good night’s sleep. The mirror’s surface reflects every bit of light that bounces off it as well as magnifies every sound, disturbing the overall atmosphere of your room. Sleeping opposite a mirror is also bad for your health. Apparently it isn’t too good for your love life either… so all of you with above-the-bed-mirror-fantasies – or realities – re-think! TVs obviously also have the same reflective surface as a mirror, so get rid of it! You’ll find you sleep much better and your melatonin levels will also benefit.
Avoid spiral staircases
Spiral staircases are actually one of feng shui’s biggest no-nos and it’s not completely illogical to understand why. They can be so dangerous! You can never see all the way to the bottom so you have no idea what’s awaiting you and we all know that forewarned is forearmed. But actually, the main reason that the spiral staircase is frowned upon in feng shui is that it closely resembles a huge screw, boring down through the floor of your home. This symbolically translates into real physical discomfort in your body.
If you do have a spiral staircase in your home, we recommend replacing it with a normal one. If you can’t, then another thing to do would be to add a wood element, which is seen as promoting health and harmony in Feng Shui. Placing a large plant directly underneath the staircase is one beautiful way of doing this; Or, if the stairs are actually made of wood, then you are (sort of) okay.
Global software giant Atlassian will build the world’s tallest ‘hybrid timber’ building for its new headquarters in Sydney, the company said.
The 40-storey structure, coming in at 180 metres (590ft), will be constructed with timber mass — layers of softwoods pressed together — and will feature a glass and steel facade, topped by outdoor gardens.
The Atlassian building, designed by New York architects SHoP and Australian firm BVN, will operate on 100 percent renewable energy and incorporate solar panels and self-shading windows in its facade.
It will use Mass Timber Construction, a technique that fuses softwoods, which Atlassian described as a key technology to lower the building’s carbon footprint.
Construction is due to start next year and be completed in 2025.
Highly ecological, hybrid timber constructions have seen a burst of popularity. The Netherlands is due to begin work next year on a 140m (459 ft) hybrid timber tower in Rotterdam.
Atlassian, founded in 2001 by Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, says the tower will house 4,000 staff and form the hub of a new tech precinct in the central Sydney business district.
“The space that we are building will be highly sustainable and highly flexible — it will be purpose-built for the future of work, for tomorrow’s world, not today’s,” Farquhar said in a statement.
He noted the post-CoViD reality of more people likely working from home, but said companies still needed offices to thrive. “Now we can design this space especially for these new ways of working,” he said.
Cannon-Brookes and Farquhar, both 40, met at the University of New South Wales in Sydney in 1998 and launched Atlassian three years later.
The company, now one of the world’s biggest collaborative software firms, has made the pair among Australia’s richest people, each worth around US$12 billion according to Forbes.
The Atlassian HQ project is not their first foray into the Sydney property market.
The duo live in side-by-side estates on Sydney harbour which both broke records as the most expensive homes in the city when purchased in 2017 and 2018 for around US$50 million and US$70 million respectively.
This story was published via AFP Relaxnews. (Hero image credit: Atlassian)
The industrial aesthetic has been popularised by many urban designers in recent years, bringing together core design elements such as metal finishings, exposed bricks and tons of raw wood to achieve a modern, edgy look.
Industrial interiors can look great. However, if followed to a tee, they can also come across as cold and uncomfortable.
Instead, by merging utilitarian elements with pieces of luxury, a whole new dimension to your home can be achieved. The industrial-luxe design highlights a grown-up version of the plain industrial aesthetic and highlights style and sophistication while still leaving plenty of edge.
Scroll down for some tips and inspiration on creating the industrial luxe aesthetic for your home.
Bricks and cement
Without brick walls and cement flooring, the core elements of the industrial aesthetic will be lost. Once markers of a building under construction, the ‘unfinished-yet-finished’ look tones done the formality of the home and makes the living space feel a little rough around the edges. To elevate the space for the industrial luxe look, opt for a brick feature wall that comes in a darker shade. Glossed up cement flooring will also help to elevate the look of your home.
Expose, not conceal
Another signature element is to expose what others typically try to conceal, such as pipes and ducts. This makes for a much more liberating way of designing your home without incurring extra costs trying to build around them. To elevate your look, paint your pipes in a colour that matches your home. As most pipes are in a shade of white, black or even rose gold piping would stand out in any home.
To add some class into your industrial home, opt for the use of warmer lighting to bring a softer edge to your interiors. It will create a more relaxed environment and also a sense of homeliness. This will also help to complement the luxurious features of the space, fashioning a delicate touch to the raw interiors.
Add rich textures
When building on industrial textures like brick walls and cement flooring, textures like faux fur and velvet stand out a lot more in terms of contrast. Upholstered velvet chairs, for example, would contrast nicely against a raw wooden table with some metal legs. The disparity between such textures add an element of luxury to the home, without coming across too snobbish or too laid-back. This makes for an interesting, engaging interior that stimulates the senses and creates an enjoyable area for all.
This article was first published on Lifestyle Asia Singapore.
Through a consultation with Hong Kong design firm Bean Buro, we take a closer peek at a case study on how to elevate yoga guru Chau-kei Ngai’s new Discovery Bay studio, YogaUp.
When envisioning the perfect space to practice yoga, what comes to your mind? Typically, it’s an airy, spacious studio that invites you to stretch out your limbs and soak up natural light as you do your sun salutations. And when you’re looking to ace an indoor-outdoor vibe, the right windows can really be all the difference.
As one of Hong Kong’s pre-eminent design studios, Bean Buro’s team are experts in creating minimalistic abodes that have an illusion of extra-spaciousness thanks to the clever manipulation of light and materials.
As for their proverbial weapon of choice? Bean Buro turns to frequent collaborator JS Aluminium Window — a longtime premium European window purveyor in Hong Kong — which offers a plethora of tools to help you transform any space and instantly give it a more breathable, resort vibe.
A little context about the client: Like many who pursue the lifelong passion of yoga, Chau-kei Ngai documents her daily practice on her social media feed: You’ll find endless photos of her wrapping herself up in pretzel-like poses with plenty of strength-testing finesse. In particular, you’ll find snapshots of her tackling a difficult pose at her recently launched yoga studio YogaUp in Discovery Bay, which features a sunny terrace space with ocean-facing views.
The venerated yogi — named the International Sports Federation champion in 2013 — is a regular headliner at wellness festivals. She teaches at centres across town, at Adidas pop-ups, and at her own studio, which provides teacher training, boutique classes and pop-up retreats.
Ngai struggled with chest pains and breathlessness all her life, a result of being born prematurely where she required a ventilator to survive her first few months (her parents, as a result, had named her ‘the miracle in the fall’). A high-pressure stint in interior design in Taipei after graduating university in Vancouver also exacerbated this breathlessness. That all lasted until she discovered yoga in 2005.
Fourteen years of teaching yoga later, whilst her lung ailments are a thing of the past, fresh air, light and breathability are indispensable design elements — not to mention crucial pillars of yoga — that Ngai keeps conscious of in her practice as well as at YogaUp.
Ngai’s spacious studio (pictured in its current untouched stage below) already frames the idyllic Discovery Bay landscape and places its relaxing balcony in the spotlight.
Yet, to make the most of the ocean-facing unit, Hong Kong interior design firm Bean Buro has envisioned ways to enhance the light-filled quality of the studio, namely using slim hardware and sleek, barely-there accessories. Here’s their recommendations on how to complete an indoor-outdoor vibe in this kind of space:
Bean Buro founders Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui and Lorène Faure selected slim-framed roof windows to really maximise the light in the studio. As opposed to having simply horizontal-facing windows, a skylight can bring in plenty more light from above, while also showcasing stunning blue skies on days when the weather is great. They can also come with retractable sun shades as needed.
Rainstorm-proof Folding Doors
An indoor-outdoor vibe can seemingly allow the interior space to stretch outwards, giving it the illusion of even more square footage. JS Aluminium Window recommends using window systems by Belgium brand Aliplast or German label Solarlux: These sets of folding doors can withstand high wind load and prevent rainwater leakage, working exceptionally well against Hong Kong’s torrential monsoon weather (However to make them fully typhoon resistant, you’ll also want to install additional Alulux shutters). They open up create a space-saving area that really bring the beautiful ocean view to the centre of attention, while also ensuring no leakages during the strongest storms.
Slim Sliding Doors
Sometimes, the original hardware that comes with the apartment, studio or living space can be rather clunky. These trim line sliding doors by German brand Solarlux minimise the blockage to the spectacular vista. Part of the Cero range, these lightweight sliding doors feature large-format panels that make the room appear taller than it is, drawing outwards from the centre to create an almost seamless view out onto Discovery Bay.
Oversized Retractable Shading
These slick-looking translucent window blinds from Canadian brand Phantom Screens are not your average insect screens. Featuring a wide span of up to 40 feet, the sleek look of the blinds create a subtlety that doesn’t distract from the overall design of the room. They’re, of course, functional — JS Aluminium Window recommends them to control solar gain and glare into the yoga studio, which is especially handy to temper against the hot sun in the mornings and afternoons — or to quietly dim the room during the savasana or meditative portions of a class. Moreover, the blinds are fully controlled with automation, leaving less hassle for the instructor when they want to roll them up or down.
To further accessorise a space designed for yoga, the designers were inspired by ‘the body,’ with a comfortable, fleshy, visceral aesthetic accentuated by the voluptuous Roly-Poly chair by Faye Toogood, a curvy geometric rug by Patricia Urquiola, and a rose gold pendant lamp.
To offer a stylistic link to the ocean view, Bean Buro imagines installing a unique backdrop: A wavy feature wall inspired by the late Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. Using a muted blue surface, it’s meant to form an intriguing dialogue with the undulating waves of the sea as you look outside — once again bringing the outside inwards.
Accessories chosen by Bean Buro. All window products are available from JS Aluminium Window, Unit 1C, Tai King Industrial Building, 700 Prince Edward Road East, San Po Kong, Hong Kong.
Peaceful simplicity and an unpretentious way of life form the basis of Japanese culture, and this long-standing mindset has influenced Japan’s architecture and interior design as well. As such, the Japanese interior aesthetic revolves around a serene, uncluttered style, prioritising a balance of nature and man-made furnishings.
Japanese interiors have a quiet, meditative feel that encourages those in the space to take a step back to enjoy the simpler things in life. Bring some of these tranquil decorating touches to your home with key elements of this interior style to replicate a peaceful, Zen state of mind.
One of the most iconic elements of Japanese interiors is Shoji, also known as sliding screens. Traditionally, they are made from translucent rice paper framed by wood. Unlike regular swinging doors, Shojis slide back and forth, saving space in small homes. Modern versions of the Shoji uses glass panels instead of rice paper for easier maintenance. A key feature of both modern and traditional Shoji is that it does not block natural light. Try replacing a large internal wall with a Shoji as it could be a great way to incorporate some light into your home.
Wood is prized in Japanese interiors, but if you’re looking to change the colour of your wood, stain it instead of painting it over. Wood staining protects and preserves the natural beauty of the wood as opposed to paint.
Like most Asian homes, shoes should always be removed at the entrance of the home. However, Japanese-style entryways make for a more explicit way of shoe removal. The entrance of the home is often set at a lower level from the rest of the home so dust and dirt do not enter. It also makes for a good transitional space between indoors and outdoors.
Most Japanese interiors include movable floor cushions that forgo actual chairs and sofas. However, most modern homeowners still require actual furniture, so the modern renditions of this aesthetic is replaced with low to ground furniture. Incorporate it in bigger pieces, like bed frames and sofas to mimic this comfortable look.
Minimalist design and open spaces reign in Japanese interiors, and one way to achieve this design aesthetic would be the use of natural lighting. Research has also proven that natural lighting helps us be more productive, happier and calmer as well. As mentioned above, open space and minimalist design principles reign in Japanese design. If possible, try to incorporate skylights, and expansive windows to open up the home, and forgo the heavy curtains. If it gets a bit too sunny, opt for sheer, gauzy curtain panels to frame your windows instead.
Every Japanese home includes a serious respect for nature, as part of its aesthetic of balancing what is man-made and natural. Other than wood, another common natural feature of Japanese interiors include simple internal rock gardens. Rock gardens typically consist of rocks, water features and some greenery atop of sand or gravel. They were intended to imitate the essence of nature and served to encourage meditation about the meaning of existence.
Tatami flooring, also known as straw mats, are typically made from woven igusa, a water rush grass that grows in the southern area of Japan. Traditional Japanese homes have tatami laid in rooms, as opposed to parquet flooring as it is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. When freshly laid out, there is a fresh, grassy scent that wafts through the room that calms and soothes the mind.
Head designer of Nendo, Oki Sato, modelled the N02 after a folded piece of paper — a simple, elegant shape he reportedly discovered while working at his desk. The same fold is incorporated into each N02’s back; and doubles as an aesthetic flourish as well as a means of enhancing flexibility and user comfort.
The body of each chair is manufactured using ‘circular plastic’ — a composite of household waste polypropylene — used in items such as yoghurt tubs and sandwich bags — which are collected, processed and up-cycled within Central Europe. Fritz Hansen insists on this sourcing arrangement because of its effectiveness in reducing carbon emissions and improving waste management throughout the region.
At launch, the N02 was offered in five different colours; with the brand releasing yet another two variants on the basic four-legged design last November. The N02-20 features a tubular ‘sledge base’ leg — said to make sitting for longer periods more comfortable — whereas the N02-30 takes the ‘paper fold’ shell and transfers it onto a swivel platform. In keeping with Fritz Hansen’s theme, the base is also made with 95 percent recycled aluminium. With the exception of the latter wheeled variant, each N02 is easy to clean, space-efficient and suitable in a variety of household or commercial environments.
Originally established in Copenhagen in 1872, Fritz Hansen is a leading global design brand in the fields of furniture, lighting and interior accessories. Best known internationally for its six collaborations with the Danish Functionalist Arne Jacobsen (between 1952-1958), in recent years the brand has gone on to collaborate with other notable contemporary designers including Piero Lissoni and Jaime Hayon.
Whether it’s the whimsical landscapes in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotelor the titular Americana hotel in Bad Times at the El Royale, the settings of acclaimed movies have become as iconic as the plots themselves throughout cinematic history.
Many directors have mastered the art of turning sets into one of the crucial elements that influence the movie — these sites aren’t just spaces where the action occurs, they, too, contribute to the action.
With Bong Joon-ho’s Parasitesweeping the Oscars 2020, attention towards film sets has never been more rampant. The house of the Parks — where most of the story in the Korean film unfolds — is so intricately constructed that it became every viewer’s second-best takeaway from the film (the plot twists, naturally, take first place).
As Parasite enters the cinematic hall of fame for set design, we offer a retrospective of other iconic movie houses in cinematic history, most of which have shed their film fame for a new lease of life as private properties.
When we first saw the Park’s lavish estate in the film, the housekeeper introduced the modernist building as one designed by star architect Namgoong. Namgoong may be fictional, but Lee Ha Jun, the production designer who built the entire house from scratch to director Bong Jun Ho‘s specifications, is not. Trust when we say there were numerous things to factor in, from camera angles to the manipulation of natural light that enhanced the mood in certain scenes.
The home is built solely for the film in an outdoor lot of a studio, so, unfortunately, it is not a liveable space, but it may offer you an inspiration or two as you dream up your next modern property.
A Star is Born (2018)
Unlike the house in Parasite, Rockstar Jackson Maine’s home in A Star Is Bornwas revealed to be a real property, housed in the Monte Nido neighbourhood of Calabasas. Designed by Douglas Rucker, this estate in the outskirts of Los Angeles was recently sold for US$2 million (HK$15.5 million).
Django Unchained (2013)
Quentin Tarantino’s films may court controversy, but there’s one thing that has always been unanimous when it comes to his body of work: excellent set designs. Django Unchainedis a prime example thanks to Big Daddy’s house, revealed to be an actual, historic sugarcane plantation known as the Evergreen Plantation in Louisiana that dates back to 1790.
The facade of the house was designed in the Greek Revival style, and the most memorable element has got to be the sprawling staircases that curve out to the lawn from the verandah. Parts of the film were shot here, along with some of the 36 other buildings on-site.
The leading vampires in Twilight sure flaunt excellent taste in architecture, though all real-life nods ought to go to Skylab Architecture. Known as Hoke Residence, the property is located on the border between Portland and Oregon’s forest park, designed to show the interplay between the elements and interior drama — an adult treehouse, if you will.
The Lake House (2006)
As much as we love Keanu Reeves, TheLake Houseis a rather forgettable film. The romantic drama is a remake of Il Mare, the Korean original, which is far better, in our books. What we remember from the Hollywood copy is the lake house of its namesake, a glass house reinforced by beams that suffused the building with serene light in the day. Architectural styles referenced include the Regency period from the 1800s in England.
The house was built entirely for this film in ten weeks, and had to be torn down and replaced by a fishing dock later on as it did not fit certain building codes.
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Famed American architect and spearheader of the Googie style John Lautner is the man behind this famous house from the classic Bond film. The futuristic villa is called the Elrod House, and is the site for billionaire Willard Whyte’s holiday home in the film.
Designed in 1969, the space spans a staggering 9,000 sq.ft. and has five bedrooms. It has changed hands since its cinematic debut, last sold in 2016 for US$7.7 million (approx. HK$59.7 million) — slashed by almost half from a previous US$13.89 million (HK$107 million) price tag in 2009, according to Realtor.com.
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is a teenage comedy classic that will go down in history for two things: the story, of course, but also the Ben Rose House, family home to his sidekick Cameron Frye. The glass-walled estate is designed by A. James Speyer, the protege of Mies van de Rohe, and was briefly slated to be demolished until it was bought for US$1.06 million (HK$8.2 million) in 2016 and renovated, complete with a new garage that can house not just one, but two Ferraris.
The Godfather (1972)
There are many impressive houses in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather,but Jack Woltz’s mansion is the cream of the crop. This palatial abode spans 50,000 sq.ft., with 18 bedrooms and 29 bathrooms, and has a whole laundry list of famous comings-and-goings outside of Coppola’s masterpiece. Built in 1927 by Gordon Kauffmann, who would later go on to design the Hoover Dam, the Beverly Hills home was famously owned by publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst. The property later became the honeymoon destination for John F. and Jackie Kennedy, and is now looking for a buyer. A cool US$125 million (HK$969 million) is all it takes.
This article was first published on Lifestyle Asia Singapore.
Versace’s latest home and decor pieces pay homage to the much revered jungle print – a familiar print as seen on the Spring/Summer 2020 runway — celebrating the anniversary of the now-iconic jungle dress worn by Jennifer Lopez to the Grammys 20 years ago.
Now recognised as one of Versace’s signature emblems, the much-loved print transitions from the wardrobe into living spaces in the form of decorative accents for the dining table.
The vivid jungle print is composed of tropical palms, bamboo shoots and wild foliage in emeralds and limes, juxtaposed against a watercolour wash of deep forest and pine.
As seen on the new tableware collection, items are finished with a polished gold lining, intricate baroque design and the brand’s Greek mythological logo of the head of Medusa.
The new seasonal print adorns fine porcelain service plates, dinner plates, serving trays, vases, scented candles and a cigar ashtray to decorate the home — perfect for your next summer soirée at home, perhaps?
Here are some of the key pieces from the Versace Home 2020 – Jungle Collection, a loud and vibrant tribute to the boldness of Versace designs.
For Dior Summer 2020’s show, Dior Homme’s creative director Kim Jones asked renowned New York sculptural artist Daniel Arsham to create a set design featuring his one-of-a-kind monolithic sculptures, that spelled out “Dior”. Channelling the feel of precious relics that were unearthed and transformed into contemporary works, the Dior 2020 collection brings to life a number of Christian Dior’s most prized and adored possessions.
The objects include his 1951 book Je Suis Couturier that was amazingly adapted to be a jewellery box studded with crystals. Symbolic of the Arsham’s works, the collection also sees other notable items such as a pink basketball embellished with the Dior name, as well as a telephone and clock.