Q&A: Heidar Sadeki on Contemporary Luxury Living at The Morgan Sky Duplex

Posted in Posh Penthouses

Hong Kong is synonymous with incredible properties; yes, for their notorious sky-high prices, but equally also for the level of ingenuity and design knowhow required to make the most of the spaces nestled within our compact concrete jungle. The Morgan is of no exception: teetering high above Mid-Levels with the heart of the city below, the prestigious 31 Conduit Road address is home to some of the most spectacular apartments one can imagine.

The Robert A. M. Stern Architects-designed tower has won scores of awards since the building’s completion in 2016. It’s a residential high-rise made to exemplify contemporary luxury living: the 30th floor penthouse, for instance, was designed by Robert Cheng, founder of Brewin Design Office (BDO).

The tower features 34 duplexes — the largest of which is the 28th floor Morgan Sky Duplex, a 2,343 sq.ft. three-bedroom unit designed by Heidar Sadeki, co-founder and creative director of Richardson Sadeki. The renowned architect has designed luxury condos all around the world, including Hong Kong’s Tai Koo Place Serviced Apartments (now East Residences), Mount Parker Residences and 3 Julia Avenue in Ho Man Tin. He’s also no stranger to the hospitality and spa industry, with notable designs including the Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi, the Bathhouse Spa at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay complex and more.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - terrace
The outdoor terrace is perfect for entertaining guests, and features a roll-out awning for rain or shine.

The Morgan Sky Duplex is the only one featuring an expansive terrace, measuring up to 460 sq. ft., with an 800 sq.ft. foyer and living room. It was recently purchased for HK$188.8 million — setting the record for price per square foot for duplexes in the development, and standing as a testament to Heidar Sadeki’s design tastes warranting some of the highest prices in the city.

We had a chance to sit down with the architect to chat about his favourite features of the apartment and his overall approach to design.

Heidar Sadeki

The Sky Duplex opens up into this incredible foyer and dining/living area that looks out onto the terrace, how did you approach the design of this large space?

We wanted to create this phenomenological transparency between the indoor and the outdoor, in mirroring the outside. That couch outside is made the exact same way as this sectional inside, but with waterproof material. On a nice spring day, you can have a nice gathering here, and do both indoor and outdoor cooking.

Within the existing design, you can have up to seven areas of sitting: one that’s more individual, for you to listen to music or read a book; and another area for twos or threes. For the size of the apartment, the socialising possibilities are expansive.

There’s also a contrast between the two spaces: if this darker dining room wasn’t looking at the living room, it might feel a little congested and heavy. When I’m sitting in the living room, I do enjoy seeing the darker, richer space in contrast. I think it is looking at the opposite space that brings the balance around.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - dining area
While the design team were unable to fit a traditional round Chinese dining table (“which would have been my preference,” says Sadeki), they instead custom-built a rounded rectangular table with an in-laid marble turntable.

You did some extensive renovations upstairs, removing one bedroom and one bathroom. The corridor has also been expanded from the usual one-metre width. Can you elaborate on how you changed the layout?

We got rid of a second bedroom and ensuite, originally between the guest bedroom and the master bedroom — I actually took half of that guest bedroom and made it a walk-in closet for the master bedroom. That takes a lot of convincing. Now at about 2,400 sq. ft., it feels much larger than that.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - kitchen
This spacious kitchen is a rare sight in Hong Kong, and features a beautiful mini herb garden and breakfast nook, looking out with an urban view over Central.

Once you reach upstairs you’ll find the bar, and we have another entrance here. If your partner or spouse is entertaining downstairs, and you can’t stand people — you can just enter through the 29th floor. If you do, it’s a kind of family room — where you catch your teenage daughter stealing your scotch, perhaps!

This corridor, now an art gallery after opening up, functions as a kind of gasket that separates the master bedroom from the other areas. I wanted it to have its own character, rather than just be a corridor that just takes you someplace else. It no longer comes across as that, and with the reflection of the black mirrored doors there’s an expansive sense of space.

What’s your absolute favourite feature of the duplex?

Definitely the master bathroom. Both the bathroom and the bedroom can be seen like its own wing, but if I had to choose between the two, I would sleep in the bathroom! It is a massive bathroom — one you’ll spend time in. You know how some bedrooms kind of result in divorces? I don’t think this one will.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - master bathroom
The master bathroom is the most striking feature of the duplex, with wraparound views of Victoria Peak.

You’ve had ample experience creating luxury spa environments, did that influence you in the design of this amazing bathroom?

This tepid room, so to speak, is designed around the Turkish notion of hammam. It warms up, it’s not as hot as a steam room, and it’s used for you to soap up. The most extensive version of that design I did in the Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi — there are very large heated chairs in large black rooms. When I was a child, my mother and my sisters would go to this very elaborate hammam, they would go in the morning, take their food there, and come back in the afternoon. You go for all sorts of massages, there’s a room where you can nap… In the Middle East, it’s not considered something fancy that you do only if you’re rich, it’s part of the culture.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - master bathroom
To the right is the tepid room, inspired by Turkish hammam experiences for a personal home spa — with two rain shower heads to boot.

What kind of person did you picture buying and living in this residence?

I think a buyer would consider this as a place for living rather than for working. That’s why we thought we could easily get rid of one bedroom and a bathroom, because if you actually want to maximise functionality with the number of bedrooms, this is not the apartment for you.

I have a specific character in my mind: This person has a very specific interest in books, and that’s how I go and choose my books. That’s how we choose the music. What we create is actually more than the design of an apartment, it’s a branded lifestyle.

Most architects have an idea of who they are designing for, but most end up in the trap of just thinking about the functions. Thinking of these characters keeps my design approach consistent. You look at it as a whole, so it doesn’t end up becoming the body of Frankenstein.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - master bedroom
“You know how there are some bedrooms that end in divorces? I don’t think this one will.”

We imagined the owners of this apartment to be a couple in their mid-40s to 60s, who have a grown-up daughter, maybe, who doesn’t live with them. The design of the guest bedroom is such that it doesn’t feel like your son’s room and someone has to sleep in it; hence I wanted it to have more of a hotel feeling, very clean, the tonality of colours used being greys, a slight amount of pinks and purples.

What’s the main quality you focus on when designing a residential project?

My background is in cinema, and I design my spaces based on a cinematic narrative. The details are less important to me than the narrative of the space. The primary approach to my design is: “What is the first thing you see when you walk in? What is the second thing? The third thing?” And then what’s the juxtaposition of these experiences… that’s what creates the narrative, that becomes essentially your memory of seeing the space. Or, what I call the aura.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - walk-in closet
The moody, stylish walk-in closet belongs to the second bedroom, potentially imagined for a grown-up son or daughter of the homeowners.

That consistency also comes across with the materials used throughout the duplex. Can you tell us a bit more about the significance of the chosen materials?

One of the design languages I wanted to bring was the choice of Turkish travertine as materiality for the wall. This was an influence from the stones used outside, and also the language that Robert A. Stern used for the tower itself. It’s that neoclassical language of heavy stones that create stability and exclusiveness, to a certain degree.

By doing that, an almost exterior language comes into the interior, tying the tower to the interior of the apartment, connecting the public space to the private space.

The Morgan Sky Duplex - living room
Sadeki explains that he enjoys lower coffee tables, as when you place bowls of fruit or flowers on top, they won’t dominate the vertical space as much.

You’ll be surprised, but in terms of the types of wood and stone that I’ve used in my projects in the past is fewer than the fingers on one hand. I’m very frugal — I keep a very tight palette. For me to choose a new material to work with takes years.

Johann Sebastian Bach came up with the 12-note system: It’s all variations of the same 12 notes. The challenge is what I do with the same materials. If you look at the Bathhouse Spa project, I used one material only — Brazilian black slate — but I have treated the texture in five different ways.

Have your projects inspired you to add similar touches to your own home?

Oh absolutely — I would love to go back home to that chair [below, left]: ever since I designed that chair I’ve been thinking it should be named “Fat Joe” — it’s like a playful, chubby child.

the morgan - living room
Space is a luxury: “At about 2,400 sq. ft., it feels much larger than that.”

All image credits: Lit Ma Common Studio Ltd.

This article was originally published on Lifestyle Asia Hong Kong in 2018.

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.

A Look Inside Singapore’s Most Expensive Penthouse Ever

Posted in Posh Penthouses

There must be some serious money in vacuum cleaners and hair dryers because Sir James Dyson, founder of one the world’s most well-known eponymous brands, recently spent a jaw-dropping US$54.2 million on a massive penthouse in one of Singapore’s tallest buildings.

And if that’s not enough to make you gasp, here’s another nugget: The British billionaire actually saved a huge amount of money in the deal, since the apartment was listed for almost twice the amount at US$80 million — said to be the most expensive in Singapore. What’s more, since Dyson has permanent residence status there, he is not required to pay the high property taxes that most other foreigners purchasing property in Singapore would have needed to.

‘Most expensive’ is, however, not the penthouse’s only claim to fame; it is also the highest. Set within the exclusively luxurious Wallich Residence, which occupies the 39th to 64th floors of the sky-high Guoco Tower, the three-storey apartment is spread across the top 62nd to 64th floors. Sitting at almost 1,000 feet above sea level, it offers breathtaking views over the city’s vast skyline and the glittering blue waters of Marina Bay.

Inside the expansive, 21,100-square-foot penthouse are five lavishly appointed bedrooms, six bathrooms, three half-baths, a pool, sky deck, Jacuzzi and a barbecue pit. And as if that weren’t enough, there’s even a 600-bottle wine cellar.

The exquisite marble flooring adds a touch of refined opulence. But it’s the floor-to-ceiling windows, in almost every room in the triplex apartment, that truly catch one’s attention as they present a sense of unadulterated openness, not only to the city below but also the skies above. One can only imagine the shimmering beauty of millions of stars at night as seen from such a vantage point.

While the stupendous sum for the apartment may seem exorbitant for some, for Dyson it’s certainly manageable. After all, his net worth currently stands at US$12.6 billion , as per the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, making him the 109th richest person on the planet. In 2018, after his company took in revenues of an astounding $1.4 billion, he was named the richest person in Britain, too. Which brings the famous phrase to mind: “If you have it, spend it!”

Staff Writer

3 Penthouse Apartments with Eye-Popping Views in Asia

Posted in Posh Penthouses

In cities where new buildings climb ever higher, the view is always best from the top. Here are three outstanding options on the market for you to snatch up right now.

The Sukhothai Residences, 13/3 South Sathorn Road, Bangkok

High above the Thai capital’s bustling Sathorn district, this 4-bedroom, 4-bathroom duplex penthouse unit spans a staggering 12,730 square feet. Occupying floors 36-37 of a 41-storey luxury condominium tower, this elegant abode comes fully furnished and features a private sky pool, garden terrace, dedicated entertainment room and separate maid’s quarters. Fixed parking spaces are also provided and included in the title deed. Best of all, you’ll enjoy the legendary Sukhothai hospitality, which means 24-hour concierge service and access to the on-site fitness centre with two tennis courts. Price on request, richmonts.com.

No. 1 Po Shan Road, Hong Kong

Uninterrupted views of the iconic skyline and Victoria Harbour are the main draw at this Mid-Levels West stunner. With 6 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms, the penthouse encompasses a very spacious 4,373 square feet, including a master suite with a large walk-in closet and a luxurious en-suite bathroom with spectacular views and a Jacuzzi tub. For those who love to host, this home is a dream for entertaining, whether for afternoon soirées at the private pool or alfresco dinners on the expansive rooftop terrace. HK$450,000,000, listsothebysrealtyhk.com.

Hilltops, 101 Cairnhill Circle, Singapore

Sir James Dyson may have snapped up the Lion City’s most exclusive penthouse over the summer (for HK$420.4 million), but there are plenty of other options on the market for your consideration. For example, this fully furnished 4-bedroom penthouse set on a hill near Orchard Road, offering its residents panoramic views. Spread over 6,370 square feet, it’s designed for indoor/outdoor living, with a spiral staircase that leads up to a roof terrace complete with a private swimming pool and deck, as well as a terrace that runs the full length of the apartment on the lower level. Price on request, hilltops.com.sg.

As of the publishing date of this article, any aforementioned properties were available for sale. We cannot guarantee that these properties will be available for sale indefinitely, so please check the respective listings for the most up-to-date information.

Michael Alan Connelly
A Chicagoan by birth and a New Yorker by habit, Michael has more than a decade of experience in digital publishing at leading titles in the U.S. and Asia. When he's not checking out Hong Kong's newest restaurants and bars or jet setting around the globe, you'll find him hanging out with his dog Buster and enjoying an Aperol Spritz.