Check Out Foerni, Hong Kong’s First Monthly Furniture Subscription Service

Posted in Interior Design

Whether you’re a short-term expat in Hong Kong, adamantly against ‘fast furniture’ culture or hate committing to a single style in your home, Hong Kong’s newly launched online furniture subscription service Føerni marks a first for people to rent high-quality, modern furniture at a monthly rate.

In the world of sharing economies where a business’s core product is never owned — think Uber and its cars or Airbnb and its homes — the next big thing is furniture, according to Føerni. Officially launched on 15 July, Føerni is a new Hong Kong startup that aims to make stylish furniture affordable with flexible lease options ranging from three to 18 months. 

It is the brainchild of Pauline Wetzer, a German entrepreneur who co-founded Hong Kong co-living concept ‘We R Urban’ in 2017. It was acquired a year later by property rental platform Hmlet, which offers fully furnished properties for short term rental across the Asia-Pacific.

At launch, Føerni offers 90 different pieces from Hong Kong and international brands, with the website touting highly regarded Danish designers BoConcept, Hay, Louis Poulsen and Normann Copenhagen, among other European brands. There are also items from local partners such as Decor8 and SofaSale, as well as designer appliances and electronics on offer, such as a Dyson air purifier or a Smeg toaster.

An ideal service for landlords looking to stage their units or provide their renters with short term furniture, Føerni offers the opportunity to avoid costly upfront payment with its monthly subscription plan, which is always priced lower than full retail rate. For landlords looking to stage apartments, furniture rentals can even be as short as for one month.

Customers can benefit from trying pieces before they commit — swapping out pieces at any time with free delivery and assembling — with the option to purchase the item at the end of the rental period. The brand even states that they can also repurchase items that were previously bought from them. Items take seven to 14 days to deliver after ordering.

Working to maximise the life cycle of each piece it rents out, Føerni also aims to be a more eco-friendly alternative to combat wasteful ‘fast furniture’ culture. This refers to the inexpensive and lower quality items in the market that constantly need to be replaced, as well as simply the consumers who like to redecorate frequently and aren’t able to repurpose or recycle old furniture. 

There are new and gently used items in Føerni’s inventory, and while there appear to be no notes on the condition of each piece online, the company strongly claims that each item is vetted with stringent quality control, and professionally cleaned and restored between renters by the same service used by five-star hotels. 

Perhaps this practise is why there are interestingly no restrictions on who can rent pieces from Føerni: Smokers, pet-owners or families with young children alike can benefit from its services and others can also be assured that items will arrive in pristine condition no matter who rented before them.

In the event of more serious damage, customers will have to pay for repairs, or in worst case scenarios, pay to replace the piece. Founder Pauline Wetzer elaborates: “wear and tear is expected, but deep stains, chipped wood, ripped upholstery or any other noticeable damage (breaks, cracks, spills, etcetera) need to be repaired or the item itself may need to be replaced. Repair fees are determined on a case-by-case basis; replacement fees are equivalent to retail prices minus what subscribers have already paid in monthly installments.”

In a world where the demand for flexibility is higher than ever, rental options seem to be the way forward. Particularly in the recent shift towards a global work-from-home culture due to CoViD-19, services like Føerni can be an attractive option for those hoping to fit out a temporary office solution at home, with an array of stylish office furniture and pantry appliances available — from printers to office chairs, and even a full office phone booth and an active sitting office chair, for those looking to offset the detrimental health effects of sitting long hours at a desk.  

“Furniture should adapt to people’s lives, not the other way around,” says Wetzer. “With Føerni, subscribers rent furniture, but own flexibility.”

Learn more at Foerni.com

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

Home Decor Lessons, Courtesy of I.M. Pei’s Breathtaking New York Townhouse

Posted in Interior Design

Though it sold within months of appearing on the market, I.M. Pei’s New York townhouse — a four-storey bolthole in the middle of Manhattan’s Sutton Place — is a powerful reminder of the indelible legacy left behind by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect, who passed away last year in May. He was 102. More widely recognised for ambitious modernist structures — built everywhere from Hong Kong to Doha — Pei’s longtime abode on US soil is a similarly revealing aspect of his lifelong contribution to the built environment: Drawing on characteristic elements of modernist creative movements such as natural light, tactile materials and an uncluttered aesthetic — always informed by considerations of functionality.

Prior to the sale of Pei’s New York townhouse, Christie’s International Real Estate went to exhaustive lengths to document it for a new generation of luxury property investors. Most certainly, we won’t deny that having a multi-storey home in the heart of Manhattan hurts this home’s prospects on the market as an all-time gem of interior design but, as you’ll see from the images below, there are lessons to be gleaned (largely revolving around what Pei did with the place) which can be meaningful for a broader audience. Let’s dive in.

“A clean, well-lighted place”

I.M. Pei New York townhouse
(Image credit: Christie’s International Real Estate)

Upon purchasing the townhouse in 1973 (from a cousin of US president Theodore Roosevelt, no less) I.M. and his wife Eileen embarked upon an extensive multi-year remodeling of the building’s internal spaces. A plethora of new, custom-made features were added — many of which were of Pei’s own design. The most practically significant of these was an oblong skylight, which worked in tandem with a coiled spiral staircase as a prism through which to channel natural light to all of the floors below.

This conjunction (of a built, overhead light-well and an internal staircase) would eventually come to be known as a signature I.M. Pei feature — most famously incorporated into the design of the Louvre Pyramid (1989). Elsewhere, Pei was sure to add floor-to-ceiling windows throughout the property — all but guaranteeing the continuity of natural light between private and communal spaces.

Make materials matter

I.M. Pei New York townhouse
(Image credit: Christie’s International Real Estate)

A crucial part of Pei’s remodel was the widespread installation of new floors and build-in surfaces. As with notable public projects (i.e. the National Gallery East Building and the Mesa Laboratory) the architect favoured simple building materials capable of universal appreciation — no doubt by a breadth of Chinese, American, and European guests who crossed his domestic threshold.

I.M. Pei New York townhouse
(Image credit: Christie’s International Real Estate)

The majority of Pei’s home is floored in a combination of European marble and Tasmanian oak — materials chosen for their “lean and simple” style and capacity for adaption to various modes of interior design. Similarly, the four wood-burning fireplaces (one located on each floor) are framed by mantels cut from smooth soapstone; with the material serving to draw attention to the overall shape and design — once again, conceived by Pei himself.

Social space as centrepiece

I.M. Pei New York townhouse
(Image credit: Christie’s International Real Estate)

To be sure, the size (3,848 sq. ft.) and layout of Pei’s townhouse conferred tremendous boons on his ability to design a compelling domestic centrepiece: Between the dining room, internal staircase, library and private garden looking onto the East River, the property has no less than four settings for socialising. Nevertheless, depending on your lifestyle and the spaces at home which you gravitate towards instinctively, any one of the aforesaid are an illuminating starting point for your own modernist highlight. Bibliophiles would do well to take a leaf out of Pei’s tried and tested book — by turning literature into a focal decoration with the aid of ceiling-high, integrated bookshelves. Against this woody, neutral backdrop, you can dedicate more mental effort to the task of selecting the right furniture for the job — turning an often neglected part of the average home into a nook for work and post-meal chitchat.

I.M. Pei New York townhouse
(Image source: Christie’s International Real Estate)

In the event that you have to be blessed with a location as compelling as Sutton Place, a green-themed centrepiece is another obvious option. Rather than going for elaborate hedgerows or high-maintenance flowerbeds, the Peis opted to open up the majority of their backyard garden so as to take full advantage of their surrounds — including the East River and nearby Queensboro Bridge. This approach emphasises a high degree of restraint. For those looking to replicate this at home, decorative efforts work best when they are pursued with subtlety and limited to simple concepts like a few well-positioned pieces of outdoor furniture or a footpath between the internal and external spaces that is suitably engaging.

Randy Lai

5 Documentaries to Inspire A Home Decor Update

Posted in Interior Design

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.

This article was published via AFP Relaxnews.

Staff Writer

This Geometric Workstation Cabin is the Home Office We All Need

Posted in Interior Design, What to Buy

With what seems like a never-ending global health crisis, many have been forced to resort to working from our own homes.

However, even if you have a big enough space for a home office setup, it can feel rather impossible to concentrate with all the distractions around — whether it’s other family members (especially young children), the bed (which suddenly looks more comfortable than ever), Netflix, or, for most of us, the fridge.

Find yourselves ticking all of the boxes above? Perhaps it’s time you check out the Workstation Cabin — a multi-purpose separation pod designed by Budapest-based design studio Hello Wood.

Complete with insulation, built-in A/C, soundproof capabilities and more, this unique 86-square-foot, 15-sided wooden house is constructed using natural Scots pine wood panels, complemented with large windows that take in plenty of natural light.

Its compact size means it can settle right within your back garden, serving as a workstation or a meeting room during the week, while in the after-hours or over the weekends, it can be converted into a playroom for the kids, a guest room, or even just your own little sanctuary whenever you feel the need to step out for some quiet time to read or relax.

Function aside, this pebble-shaped geometric construction is a vision in its own, and will aesthetically enhance your outdoor space like a work of art. The entire blueprint is computer-generated, so it can be sent to a CNC machine for quick and easy production. It can then be assembled off-site, before being delivered and installed in your preferred location, all in a matter of days.

Interested to get one of your own? Contact Hello Wood for details.

Cindie Chan

Q&A: Michael Seum on the state of modern bathroom design

Posted in Interior Design

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.

Michael Seum
(Image credit: Grohe)

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.

Michael Seum
(Image credit: Grohe)

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.

Michael Seum
(Image credit: Grohe)

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.

This article was first published on Lifestyle Asia Kuala Lumpur.

Staff Writer

What will restaurants look like post-lockdown?

Posted in Interior Design

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.

Cellophane screens

(Image credit: Patrick Jouin)

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. 

Individual greenhouses

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”). 

‘Plexi corners’

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.

This article is published via AFP Relaxnews.

Staff Writer

3 Things to Consider When You Feng Shui Your Home

Posted in Interior Design

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.

(Hero image credit: Toa Heftiba)

De-clutter, but in a smart way

(Image credit: Ralph Lauren Home)

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.

This article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Bangkok.

Staff Writer

How to Recreate the Industrial Luxe Aesthetic for Your Home

Posted in Interior Design

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.

Warm lights

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.

Staff Writer

10 of the Most Iconic Chairs of All Time

Posted in Interior Design

To the untrained eye, a chair is a seemingly mundane object: expressing human beings’ need for functional seating in the various public and private settings life throws at them. And yet, throughout history, few pieces of furniture have stirred the heart and fired the imagination quite like the humble chair.

On a conceptual level, the exercise of designing a really good one transcends concerns of a technical nature to become something akin to an artistic process. Material innovation, practicality, beauty of form, craftsmanship — when done right, a great chair has it all.

Unsurprisingly, the heyday for such creations was the 40-year interlude between the 1920s and 1960s. The convergence of technological innovation and a widening of the European/American middle classes led to the emergence of the artistic movement known as ‘Mid-Century Modern’: the influence of which can still be felt today — in everything from our skyscrapers to pop culture. Naturally then, numerous chairs designed during that era have achieved the reputation of modern classics: here are 10 which we’re positive you’ll still be hearing about in 100 years.

1. Le Corbusier’s ‘Grand Confort’ (1928)

iconic chairs

Popularised by a 1985 advertisement for TDK Maxell cassette tapes, the ‘Grand Confort’ (or “cushion basket” as Le Corbusier himself liked to call it) made its auspicious debut half a century prior. Designed in tandem with architects Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanneret, the Confort is in and of itself the epitome of simplicity: An elegant, open-worked chrome frame that is capable of being separated from the adjoining upholstery. Today, authorised Italian-made replicas may be purchased from Cassina and are available in a variety of single or multi-person configurations.

2. Eileen Gray’s ‘Transat’ (1927)

iconic chairs

For champions of modernism, ideas didn’t just come from obvious, consistently mined sources like biology or built structures. In the case of pioneering Irish architect Eileen Gray, her ‘Transat’ chair was inspired by the deck seats of a transatlantic steamer. The frame was shaped using complex joinery and held in place with a series of chromed brackets. Meanwhile, the headrest and load-bearing part of the seat consist of separate pieces. Despite the relaxed look, Gray’s design isn’t a simple template capable of being copied on a mass scale: That has made authentic period examples a coveted collectible, with those in excellent condition frequently fetching upwards of HK$90,000.

3. Marcel Breuer’s ‘B32/Cesca’ (1928)

iconic chairs

Like many of his Bauhaus contemporaries, Marcel Breuer sought to recontextualise traditional European arts and crafts for the modern era. This lifelong mission culminated in two of the most important furniture designs of the 20th century: The ‘B32/Cesca’ and ‘Wassily’ (more on the latter in a moment). Consisting of two pieces of solid beech fitted with woven cane inserts and affixed to a steel frame, the Cesca is one of the first modernist furniture designs to “exploit the possibilities unique to [its] material.” The bouncy, somewhat levitating sensation users get whilst seated has become almost as iconic as the chair’s cantilevered frame — explaining why it’s still so popular in 2020.

4. Finn Juhl’s ‘Model 45’ (1945)

iconic chairs

Under the broad remit of ‘modernist’ design, many enthusiasts have narrowed their focus to that movement as it appears in specific countries: Lovers of American modern have Eames, fans of Finland have Saarinen and those who gravitate towards Denmark will have heard Finn Juhl’s name crop up incessantly. The KADK alum’s magnum opus is undoubtedly the ‘45’ — an open-frame design that debuted at an exhibition held by the Copenhagen Cabinetmaker’s Guild in 1945. Easily one of the most comfortable chairs on our shortlist, it remains unrivalled to this day for how it mixes organic forms, sublime materiality and cradle-style ergonomics — the result of Juhl’s many years of research into posture dynamics and the ideal seat shape.

5. Hans Wegner’s ‘Papa Bear’ (1954)

iconic chairs

Many of the iconic modernist designers sought to marry pre-existing furniture styles with thoroughly up-to-date notions of ‘function.’ Hans Wegner’s ‘Papa Bear’ chair, which takes the basic tenets of the English wingback and sieves them through a Danish filter, is the obvious case study. Though somewhat smaller than its spiritual forebear — and nowhere near as streamlined in appearance as the chairs of Mies van der Rohe or Arne Jacobsen — the Papa Bear is an unrivalled fusion of traditional Scandi craft and nuances in form. It is, in a word, the sort of chair which ‘swallows’ its sitter whole — in a good way.

6. Verner Panton’s ‘Stacking Chair’ (1960)

iconic chairs

When it first debuted in 1960, Verner Panton’s ‘Stacking Chair’ introduced a number of firsts to the world of furniture design: it was the first single-form, single-material chair to be produced using an injection mould — which helped to optimise it for full-scale production some eight years later. Today, this groovy vision of lacquered polyurethane is still produced by Vitra and will set you back a cool HK$14,000 (approx.) for a single unit.

7. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s ‘Barcelona’ (1929)

iconic chairs

Named after the setting for the 1929 Industrial Exposition, the Barcelona Chair is among German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s most influential furniture designs and widely considered an icon of the modern movement. The chair was a centrepiece for Mies’ own pavilion at the Barcelona Industrial Expo — reportedly inspired by his desire to create a resting place worthy of Spanish royalty. Feeding into Mies’ philosophy of “harmonising the old and new,” every Barcelona chair is an elevation of industrial material to an artistic plane. Since the 50s, the best reproductions have been made by Knoll: featuring a hand-buffed, mirror-finished frame (resplendent of Roman thrones) and upholstery cut from 40 individual panels.

8. Eero Saarinen’s ‘Tulip’ (c. 1955)

iconic chairs

One of the defining features of Scandinavian modernism (particularly of the Finnish variety) was a desire to depart from — or the very least, reinterpret — settled design conventions. In the realm of chairs, modernists such as architect Eero Saarinen sought clean and efficient solutions to the traditional four-legged construction — what Saarinen himself derisively referred to as “a slum of legs.” The Tulip was a response to that style’s perceived failings, characterised by a fluidly sculpted silhouette inspired by, yes you guessed it, flowers of the same name.

9. Marcel Breuer’s ‘Wassily’ (1925)

iconic chairs

Yes, we’re well-aware that this is the second Breuer object to make our list, but honestly, between the Cesca and Wassily, it’s hard to settle on which had the most outsized impact within industrial design. Self-described by Breuer as his “most extreme work … the least ‘cosy’ and most mechanical,” the Wassily takes the basic conceit of a club chair and strips that back to its bare (verging on austere) essentials. Akin to a metal sling, the Wassily’s seat, arms, and back appear to cradle the sitter mid-air; with their body never touching the steel frame. Named for Breuer’s friend and fellow Bauhaus colleague, Wassily Kandinsky.

10. Charles and Ray Eames’ ‘Lounge Chair and Ottoman’ (1956)

iconic chairs

Whether your first brush with greatness came courtesy of a certain NYC apartment in Mad Men or a much-thumbed Herman Miller catalogue, nothing expresses the halcyon days of American modernism like the Eames’ ‘lounge and ottoman’. Imbued with “the warm receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt,” the design emerged from Charles and Ray Eames’s experimentations with steam-moulded plywood. This expertly manipulated material forms the basis of the ottoman and Eames chair: ensuring that both provide a supportive resting experience, unparalleled comfort and improve with age. Invariably, the most desirable examples are always vintage pieces manufactured in rosewood, though modern reproductions can be had for just south of HK$60,000.

Randy Lai

How Hong Kong Design Firm Bean Buro Elevates Chau-kei Ngai’s Yoga Studio with Natural Light

Posted in Interior Design

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:

Skylight

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.

Comforting Accessories

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.

Ocean Blues

Watercolour sketch by Bean Buro

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.

This article is presented by JS Aluminium Window.

Staff Writer

Give Your Bathroom a Hotel-Style Makeover With These Luxe Interior Design Trends

Posted in Interior Design

When it comes to the ‘wow’ factor of any great luxury hotel, we think you’d agree the bathroom is an important part of the conversation. Stands to reason, if you could import any element of your favourite five-star suite into the home, a hotel-style bathroom would feature high on the list.

In fact, as far as building a design-led living space goes, having the right kind of bathroom is a highly effectual means of conveying an eye for beauty and detail. From spaces that explore texture to the ultimate terrazzo temple, take a leaf out of the playbook of some the world’s most breathtaking hotel bathrooms, with seven of our favourite interior decorating tips below.

A slice of nature

hotel-style bathroom
(Image source: Four Seasons Resort Bali)

Embrace a sub-tropical atmosphere by situating your bathroom closer to nature — à la the Four Seasons resort at Jimbaran Bay. Each suite’s heirloom faucets and large tubs (with caddy fittings) imbue the traditional Balinese household with a European touch.

Terrazzo edges

hotel-style bathroom
(Image source: The William Vale)

In Brooklyn, The William Vale lends a healthy dose of inspiration with its all-white guest bathrooms: each a spectacular barrage of geometric mirrors and all-over terrazzo surfaces. If this composite material isn’t to your liking, try substituting with granite or veined marble for a similar (though somewhat softened) visual effect.

High contrasts

hotel-style bathroom
(Image source: Vue Hotel Houhai)

For a successful case study in ‘how to intermingle high contrast in low light’, take a moment to survey Vue Houhai‘s hotel-style bathrooms. A whimsical selection of tinted screens — used on showers and mirrors — creates a pleasing foil to dark, alabaster flecked marble surfaces. Contrary to popular belief, this is a great visual trick to use in smaller, apartment block bathrooms — lending an easy-to-execute element of luxury hotel cred.

Creative tiling

hotel-style bathroom
(Image source: The Calile Hotel)

If you’re bored of conventional, horizontal, slatted monochrome tiles then there’s never been a better time to eschew those for a pop of colour. In 2020, embrace new finishes and shades in the manner of the extraordinary Calile resort in Australia: which alternates the tiling in each guest bathroom between a serene palette of blue, green, and reddish pastels.

White marble

hotel-style bathroom
(Image source: Hotel Café Royal)

White marble is both the most financially exorbitant yet visually striking resource for turning your wash space into a hotel-style bathroom. We’ll simply say this: if you’re going to use marble to spruce up the fit-out, its well worth using a lot of white marble. Guest bathrooms at the Hotel Café Royal in London handily illustrate the value of this advice: even extending the Tuscan masonry motif to the bathtub. For best results, make yours a centrepiece by tweaking the tub’s size and location relative to the rest of your space.

Wooden floors

hotel-style bathroom
(Image source: The New York Edition)

For once, it pays to the take the old adage ‘stay grounded’ a little too literally. Standing surfaces are often a missed opportunity to impart a dose of warmth upon otherwise sterile, perfunctory spaces. In a simple twist, private bathing spaces at Ian Schrager’s Manhattan Edition swap out unpleasant linoleum tiles for blond wooden flooring — a fine match for ultra-sleek countertop and soaking tub surfaces.

A retreat-like atmosphere

hotel-style bathroom
(Image source: The St. Regis Maldives)

Another decorating tip from the always reliable ‘bigger is better’ playbook is to simply build out a huge bathroom space. For this, turn to sprawling resorts like The St. Regis Maldives for inspiration: taking note of decadent surface area-intensive features like a balcony, walk-in closet and multiple vanities. In a nutshell — everything you’d expect from your favourite five-star spa.

An edition of this article first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Singapore.

Randy Lai

7 Ways to Incorporate Zen Japanese Interiors into Your Home

Posted in Interior Design

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.

Sliding Doors

(Image credit: nippondaira hotel)

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.

Stained Wood

(Image credit: decoist)

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.

Japanese-styled Entryway

(Image credit: homedit)

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.

Low-to-Ground Furniture

(Image credit: nyomtassolcson)

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.

Natural Lighting

(Image credit: lookboxliving)

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.

Rock Gardens

(Image credit: Interior design ideas)

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.

Straw Mats

(Image credit: tsunagujapan)

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.

This article was first published on Lifestyle Asia Singapore.

Staff Writer

Q&A: Steve Leung on the Rise of Branded Residences and What’s Next in Design

Posted in Designers to Know, Interior Design

Steve Leung, the founder of interior design and architecture firm Steve Leung Design Group and one of Hong Kong’s most eminent creatives, has had his name attached to a number of prestigious projects over the years.

He most recently partnered with Kuala Lumpur’s latest skyline-transforming tower, 8 Conlay, now considered to be the world’s tallest twisted twin residential skyscraper powered by a branded residence. It’s home to Yoo8 serviced by Kempinski, featuring interiors designed by Leung and his South-African-born British contemporary, Kelly Hoppen.

8 Conlay in Kuala Lumpur.

In Hong Kong, Leung has also been dipping his feet in several exciting projects. An avid boat-lover, Leung partnered with Italian yacht builders Sanlorenzo last year to create custom interiors for the SX88 and SL106 models. In recent years, he was also behind Hong Kong’s first Yoo Residence, located in Causeway Bay, which sparked his ongoing collaboration with the brand.

As a pioneer of the worldwide branded residence model, Yoo Residences has plucked from some of the most powerful names in design as its creative directors, with collaborators including Philippe Starck, Jade Jagger, Marcel Wanders, Sussanne Khan, and of course, Steve Leung.

We recently caught up with Leung in Hong Kong to chat about the growing prominence of branded residences across the globe, and how residential design is expected to change in 2020.

Why is there a growing popularity of branded residences around the globe, and what sets this apart from traditional homes?

You’re correct, there are more and more branded residences in the world. At the moment Dubai has the largest number of branded residences, overtaking New York. People who are buying these residences or living in them are not just hoping to find a place to stay, it’s [become] part of their lifestyle.

The [location], surroundings and materials are not the only factors to consider when people buy or rent an apartment, they want something stylish. A branded residence can be connected to a hospitality group, like a hotel chain such as the Four Seasons, St. Regis or Marriott. To some people, it equates to luxury, but it’s also equated to service — they can ensure that the service provided is held to a certain international standard.

Branded residences are always part of a compound, so residents can enjoy the amenities of a hotel, such as the gym, health club, room service or housekeeping, or valet parking.

Steve Leung - 8 Conlay
Yoo co-founder John Hitchcox with Steve Leung.

[Another reason is] unrelated to hospitality: For example, as Yoo Residences is a design brand, it does not provide that same hospitality service, but why is it still so sought after? Because Yoo represents lifestyle — there are different creative directors [in the team]: we have people like Philippe Starck, Marcel Wanders, Jade Jagger, and myself from Asia.

Buyers can claim, “my apartment was designed by Steve Leung or by Philippe Starck.” It offers something that’s different to the rest of the market. And when it comes to resale value, a branded residence offers a new benchmark, it’s something that traditional residences cannot offer. When the global community has higher expectations and standards, this [has become] the new global trend.

Are traditional, no-frills, no-clubhouse apartments outdated, then?

I don’t agree with that. You can’t exactly say that these apartments are outdated. Imagine I’m from Hong Kong, and I want to buy an apartment in San Francisco. If I look at the Four Seasons residences, I immediately know that the Four Seasons is an international brand of this standard, and I have the confidence in buying such a brand. Similarly, when foreigners come to Hong Kong, they don’t know local developers — they won’t know Sun Hung Kai Properties, for example, although maybe [the developer] can produce very high-end, high quality homes.

When people are trying to invest overseas, they have no clue which would be the best developer that can produce the best apartment. But when it’s a branded residence, they [can vouch for its quality]. They’ve heard of St. Regis; the Four Seasons, and so on. This is also one of the reasons why developers are doing more and more collaborations on branded residences.

For international investors going overseas to buy property, these branded residences can be attractive. On the other hand, locals who want to buy in Hong Kong may know Henderson, but they can also compare, for instance, Sun Hung Kai Properties and Four Seasons. As a local I would know better — I would have more choice.

Is the increasing interest in overseas investment affecting interior design? If so, how?

Design is not so simple. Design can be different for different people, for different projects at different times. Every project is unique — when I am asked to design something I need to understand the background so I can provide the best solution to answer all these problems. It depends on the agenda, the budget, the target customer and so on. 

This also explains why at Yoo8 we have different creative directors. For example, Philippe Starck has always designed very ‘wow’ interiors. But this ‘wow’ factor doesn’t work in, let’s say, some parts of China, especially as the elderly rich in China may not like that kind of expression by Philippe Starck. But on the other hand, they may like something from Steve Leung or something with an Asian perspective. That’s why at Yoo8, at 8 Conlay, they chose to complete two towers, one by me and one by Kelly Hoppen. The client chose us because they believed Steve Leung and Kelly Hoppen can deliver a product that both bear the DNA of Yoo, but at the same time it’s welcomed by the customers in KL, especially the target group.

How does Feng Shui factor into your more Asian-inspired design philosophy?

I was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Hong Kong. A lot of people, like my clients, are concerned about Feng Shui. I’m not an expert, but I understand the basic principles. Feng Shui is actually dealing with the feeling that people get when they enter into the space, and I agree with most of these principles. When I do design, I try to avoid the ‘don’ts’: like opening onto a corner, or [having a door] face a toilet or face the kitchen or the stove. When I design, I subconsciously have all these things in mind. I’ve actually designed some private residences for my clients, who went to a Feng Shui master and gave me a set of principles to follow.

What are people looking for when it comes to new luxury residences in 2020?

If you’re talking about the luxury residence market, the number one thing I can say especially in China or Asia is that people are not so keen on Classical design anymore compared to 20 years ago, or even 10 years ago.

In the past, particularly in Mainland China or even in Hong Kong, people always labeled luxury with Western Classical design. But now, they are saying that it’s not the best, or not the only solution. People are more open-minded to accept more contemporary designs.

Number two is that you have to consider individual comfort. The home is regarded as a place for the family, not a place to show off. A family normally means you’re not living alone — you have your spouse, your kids, your parents. In your own home, you have to make everybody happy, not just yourself.

Number three, people are getting better off now, they don’t go for material luxury, they go for psychological luxury, meaning they want fresh air, sunshine; they want clean water. Ecological principles, sustainability, wellbeing — these things have moved to the top of the list.

Especially now we have the coronavirus, people are very concerned about health. Your money means nothing to you if you don’t have good health, right? 

What are some practical ways you’ve noticed that people are using to update design in the home, as a result of the pandemic?

There are a lot of small things that people are hoping to improve in the home. They want to clean their shoes before going into their apartment, so they’ll want a place [for that], somewhere to store their dirty shoes and then change into clean house slippers. Another example is that people would be very concerned about whether their flooring material is easy to clean or not — carpet would be more difficult to clean compared to a tiled or marbled floor, for example. 

In terms of design and living, I would say people are more concerned about overall wellness. They need to have ventilation. I have some friends — they never open the windows in the house, they use air conditioning 365 days a year. Of course, it’s very comfortable in terms of temperature and humidity control. But it’s not healthy: You need fresh air. Now people are realising that this is something they should not disregard. Ventilation, natural hygiene, cleaning practicalities, this has all changed the perception on what makes a perfect home.

Evelyn Lok
When not trying out the latest beauty and wellness trends, Evelyn is likely enjoying a perfectly balanced negroni or exploring some of Hong Kong's best new places to eat and drink. She covers everything from the biggest events in town to interviews with Hong Kong specialists, with topics spanning art, food and drink, health, tech, and travel.

The N02 Chair by Fritz Hansen and Nendo Stylishly Adopts Recycled Materials in the Home

Posted in Interior Design, What to Buy

Known for its handsome, room-enriching contemporary furniture pieces, Fritz Hansen sought out Japanese design studio Nendo in order to jointly develop the brand’s first chair using recycled materials, the N02.

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.

Fritz Hansen
Japanese architect and designer Oki Sato (pictured), head of design firm Nendo.

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.

Fritz Hansen
The N02-20 (pictured) is available in the same five colourways as the original, and features a distinctive tubular steel ‘sledge base’ instead of 4 legs.

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.

This article was published via AFP Relaxnews.

Staff Writer

The Beginner’s Guide to Buying Indoor Plants for Your Home

Posted in Interior Design

There are many benefits to incorporating indoor plants in your home. Not only are they an essential part of your interior design, they can also brighten up the space (and your mood) — and even provide health benefits, such as by helping to purify the air.

If you’re a novice gardener, you may have been intimidated by past experiences, but we’re here to set that straight: Indoor plants can actually be relatively easy to tend, if you get to know exactly what your plant needs to lead a long and healthy life. Read on to see our guide to buying houseplants for first-timers.

1. Decide where you wish to place the plant

Most people make the mistake of heading straight to the store, choose a pretty plant they see and decide where to place that afterwards. This is exactly what you should avoid doing, because different types of indoor plants thrive in different places based on the amount of light, space and moisture available. There are specific plants that thrive in wet environments like showers and bathrooms, whilst others that prefer drier, sunnier locations such as on your windowsill.

One of many things to consider when choosing the right spot for your plant is also making sure there’s a good amount of distance — at least 6 inches — between the pots and other furnitures, keeping them away from air conditioners/heating units and picking somewhere with good air flow. Places like hallways, in front of windows, and on top of tables are a good place to start.

Never make the mistake of squeezing a plant into a corner or behind furnitures; not only will it hinder its growth, it will also seriously block the air circulation, making it really hard for the plant to breathe. A good amount of space and flow of air will encourage stronger stems and also allow the plant to achieve better temperature control, CO2 replenishment and also reduce humidity, thus lowering the chance of catching plant diseases, which are often a result of extreme moisture.

2. Do your research and choose the right plant for your home

Choose plants that are suited to your home’s conditions, which includes the type of space and also the amount of light. Typically, you’ll want taller plants for the floor, and shorter ones for those that sit on windowsills, shelfs and tables. Be reminded that plants do grow, so you’ll want to choose ones that are slightly shorter than what you wish for.

As for light, be mindful about the light level at the specific spot you plan to place your plant at, and remember it differs even for those on different windowsills based on the direction they face. Last but not least: Pay special attention if you have pets at home, as some indoor plants — such as sago palm, azaleas and lilies — are toxic to animals, and can pose serious health hazards to your furry friends.

Another thing to think about is your habits and schedules. Plants need routine watering, so if you have a busy schedule, travel all the time or are generally more ‘forgetful’, you’d want to go for species that require relatively less attention. Even so, it is important to note that not only a lack of water kills plants, too much water will do so too, as soggy, waterlogged compost causes disease and can be rather fatal. Avoid that by keeping your plants in pots with drainage holes at the bottom to allow excess water to drain out.

3. Where to buy your houseplants

Purchase your indoor plants from reputable stores where you’re confident their plants have been given the proper care they require before arriving in their new home. If you’re ordering online, make sure you choose ones that offer money-back guarantees and return the plants immediately if they arrive damaged, dry, or even worse, diseased.

4. Examine carefully for healthy growth

Found something that ticks all the boxes? Examine carefully before making any further decisions. For foliage plants, make sure they are lush and full, and the colours are fresh. Double check that the leaves and stems are firm, and nothing is wilted or distorted. Next, search for new leaves as evidence of growth; they should be naturally looking, and without any polished or waxed surfaces. As for flowering plants, avoid those with full blooms and, instead, go for ones with multiple buds, which generally last much longer (with some exceptions).

You’d also want to pay special attention to the nodes, or the areas where the stems branch out, which can indicate the presence of disease and insects. The chance to discover pests are also higher if the plant was initially grown outdoors. If during your shopping trip you find any mealybugs, red spider mites or scales, turn away immediately — it won’t take long for them to infect the entire plant.

Lastly, feel the soil with your fingers. You want it to be neither too loose or compacted. Some growers cut costs by using ordinary garden soil for potting, which tends to turn hard as a brick when dry — an unfavourable condition that causes stunted growth. You’ll have to repot the plants with better soil if you run into this issue.

Cindie Chan