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Tom Dixon’s career has taken him from discovering the idea for the S-bend chair while welding motorcycle parts, to being one of the hottest designers of lighting, furniture and interiors, and to occupying the chair of Creative Director at the venerable Finnish Artek.
Dixon’s latest showpiece, Tazmania Ballroom in Hong Kong, opened recently in the Central District (Lan Kwai Fong) where more than 100 bars, restaurants and entertainment venues attract people from around the world.
Tazmania’s owner is Hong Kong entertainment entrepreneur Gilbert Yeung Kei-lung. With his British boarding school and Canadian college upbringing, he wanted a British private-club atmosphere, but without the stuffiness.
He tapped Dixon’s Design Research Studio and lead designer Helene Bangsbo Andersen who employed refined James Bondish snobbery with its retro high-tech and combined it with a confident, cool club atmosphere.
The result is an exclusive and glamorous mix of a pool hall/private club/dance club/night club. Golden pool tables are magically lifted to the ceiling making room for one of Hong Kong’s largest dance floors where resident DJs keep the carefully screened guests hopping with the latest Funktion One ound system. The British street culture is emphasized with the staffers attire: they wear Doc Martens and Fred Perry.
Dixon’s own pieces decorate the opulent space including the Cone, Pipe and Copper Shade lights and the Offcut Stool.
Gilbert Yeung is also the founder of the Dragon-I bar and restaurant, Busy Suzie and Brother & Sister store and cafe. He is the son of Albert Yeung Sau-Shing, Hong Kong entertainment tycoon and chairman of the media conglomerate Emperor Entertainment Group. Tuija Seipell
Yes, yes! We LOVE the cool, clean, minimalist interior (no news here to our readers) of the brand-new 100 square-meter retail store, the HITGallery, opened at the end of September in the Times Square shopping center in Hong Kong.
The elegantly retro store, designed by the talented Milan-based architect and designer, Fabio Novembre, is the first iteration of a new global multi-brand retail concept of the Pettoranello-based fashion house, Ittierre S.p.A. Ittierre holds the licenses, manufacturers and markets several brands, including Aquascutum, C’n’C Costume National, Galliano, GF Ferré, Fiorucci, Karl Lagerfeld Paris, Pierre Balmain and Tommy Hilfiger Collection. The latest brand to sign with Ittierre is Jean Paul Gaultier, with his men’s collection launching in Fall/Winter 2013-14.
The HITGallery boutiques, slated to open around the globe, feature\s several, if not all, of the lines Ittiere represents. The next store in line will be the Milan flagship but in the meanwhile, Ittierre has just opened a 1,000-square-meter temporary store, IT'S 30 MANZONI, at Palazzo Scotti Gallarati in Milan's luxury neighborhood.
In a media release, Fabio Novembre is quoted as saying that The HITGallery stores capture the essence and spirit of Italy by, for example, taking inspiration from the surreal atmospheres of the artist Giorgio De Chirico.
He continues: “Upon entering the concept store in Hong Kong, people will promptly notice the strong Italian imprint of the architectural design’s classical matrix: symmetrical structure, row of arches, one dominant hue offset by two-tone flooring. The color defining the walls – a neutral shade bordering between green and sky or cerulean blue – defies classification, so becoming the ideal backdrop for all the brands sold in the store.”
We love the uncluttered feel, the delicious Casamania Her chair (also by Novembre) and the complete lack of brand-clutter, especially signs and logos. The latter, of course, will pose the most massive of all retail challenges that trumps all design and merchandising feats: The need to provide relevant and sincerely customer-centric service. Don’t even get us started on THAT topic! - Tuija Seipell
Photography by Dennis Lo
High Tea at fancy hotels has long been a favourite of not just the Royals and the ladies who lunch, but even tourists glamming it up and gladly handing out their credit cards for a bit of high-brow fabulousness.
Wine Tastings and High Coffee came next, served and imbibed in various degrees of decadence and glamour.
But the stakes are getting higher and the temptations harder to resist. The Landmark Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hong Kong is now serving a L900 Jimmy Choo package but only till early May. It includes afternoon tea for two at the MO Bar where the expected fare is served: cucumber and smoked salmon sandwiches, the Mandarin's famous ginger scones and clotted cream, and macaroons in a multitude of flavours, but it is all meticulously handcrafted in exquisite shoe and handbag shapes. Jimmy Choo, of course. And after the tea, you can check into the Mandarin 9200 square-foot L900 Suite for a night and select a pair from Jimmy Choo's new 24:7 capsule collection. Price tag for the splurge? Approximately $1,500 US. - Tuija Seipell
We like this 130 square meter (1,400 sq.ft.) office for its crisp simplicity.
It is a expansion project by Alain Wong of Comodo for his company’s own office space located in Knutsford Terrace, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong.
Wong calls the project Landscape in Bustling City, a fitting name for an office located in the middle of the busy city in an area that used to be lush gardens.
Comodo’s earlier office was predominantly black and white, as is the new one, except for the natural wood used to create platforms, partitions and furnishings.
The extensive use of unfinished raw wood board creates a nice balance of function and whimsy, and brings a sense of the outdoors inside. Natural light streams into much of the space through glass partitions. - Tuija Seipell.
Hong Kong seems to have more than enough restaurants, yet new ones keep opening up and the best candidates always do well. The latest in the Chinese restaurant genre is Mott 32, in the Standard Chartered Bank Building in Central.
We love the echoes of the past that are visible everywhere at Mott 32 without turning the establishment into a traditional Chinese restaurant. It is all cool vibes and modern touches perfectly suitable for urban Hong Kong
of today, but in a skilfully prepared wrapping of patina and allure.
The name Mott 32 has its roots in 32 Mott Street in New York City where it was the address of the city’s first Chinese convenience store, opened in 1851 by pioneering Hong Kong families whose entrepreneurship and hard work helped establish Chinatown and spread the global love of Chinese food.
Metal, wood, rattan, leather, eccentric lighting, and countless details make Mott 32 a place where there are cool stories everywhere.
A massive abacus in the ceiling, a spectacular display of brushes, newly “decaying” ceilings in the bathroom, cool art on the walls, all of these aspects of the interior are carrying stories that echo the bygone industrial vibe of New York and the agrarian traditions, craftsmanship and hard work in China and Hong Kong. - Tuija Seipell.
Hong Kong’s already vibrant and versatile bar scene keeps receiving additions that would be right at home in any large global hub. In the Central business district, chock-full of banks, the design-aware and quality-conscious financial wizards now have yet another bar/club where they can spend all those gazillions.
The whiskey bar foxglove, at the Printing House on Duddell Street, is the second bar opened by the Ming Fat House owner team of Jonathan Bui (a Canadian), Eric Lam (an American) and Shakib Pasha (from Hong Kong.)
To provide an environment worthy of their demanding prospective patrons, they invited local architect Nelson Chow Chi-Wai, principal and founder of NC Design & Architecture, to iterate the story of a wealthy adventurer, Frank Minza who, as the owners coyly say, may or may not be a fictional character. To thicken the plot they add that he was the illegitimate son of a somewhat luckless entrepreneur from Hong Kong’s colonial days.
So there is a touch of high-end shadiness and secrecy in foxglove that really is a lovely hybrid: A masculine combo of an ocean liner, airplane, gentlemen’s club and speakeasy.
The entrance isn’t just a plain old door, in fact there is no bar entrance visible. Instead, you walk into an umbrella shop where exquisite specimens of luxury brollies are displayed in custom-design glass cabinets. Find the right silver handle, touch it, and a secret door opens to the ‘air plane’ that seats 80. A marble-topped cocktail bar connects to the dining section.
A VIP room seats 32 guests and resembles a first-class dining car of a luxury train and the VVIP room brings you to an intimate gentleman’s library where time seems to have stopped and money is still made of paper.
The owner’s first Hong Kong bar, Mrs. Pound, opened a year ago in Sheung Wan. It tested the secret speakeasy entrance concept by offering a Chinese stamp shop as the entry environment. In that case, the story tells that Mrs.
Pound was a burlesque dancer who fell in love with a Chinese stamp shop owner. In an interview, Jonathan Bui was quoted as saying that the hidden entrance and secrecy work especially well in Hong Kong because “it is so different from the typical in-your-face shopfronts.” - Tuija Seipell.
Photography: Dennis Lo Designs
May we just move in, please? This super-sleek, one-storey residence is rather close to a perfect minimalist house.
It fits in its surroundings and manages to appear like a real home for real people although it also reveals its cool, sophisticated character that reflects the tastes of the owners.
Located in residential suburb, about a 15-minute drive away from Chisinau, the capital of Moldova, the 264 square-metre (2841 sq.ft.), three- bedroom house centers around an inner courtyard that also has a swimming pool.
The car port merges seamlessly with the overall scheme and does not appear like an add-on. As a clean concrete cell, the car port not just shelters the owner’s retro sports car, but it also creates a display case for it. The shelter works just like a perfect box for the perfect gift; it enhances it but does not compete with it or take anything away from it.
The minimalist general approach, and the low profile and scale, make the structure seem unpretentious and sleek and much smaller than it actually is.
Our eyes are drawn to the elegant use of white as the colour of floors, and even the concrete and gravel outside.
This same educated minimalism is in view also inside the residence, where minimalism is not taken to a painful degree, neither is the harmony broken by arbitrary, and so often meaningless, splashes of colour. Much of the furniture is by Poliform and B&B Italia
Glass, wood and concrete are the main materials used in this house, affectionately called the Piano House. This name comes from the display-like open space around the grand piano. Because the piano is on display in a minimalist setting, it becomes the main character. Or, conversely, one might say that the piano as the main character has dictated the fact that open space is needed around it. The key point here is balance, and knowing what to leave out.
We believe that it is very easy to be complicated, not just in architecture and design in general, but in all creative endeavours. Minimalism is not easy, as we have said on so many occasions, but when it IS executed well, it creates an elegant sense of ease and lightness.
Everything belongs, everything fits together, everything speaks the same, language. Tuija Seipell