August - September 2016





FromMacau to Mauritius and in between! Summer Dining Getaways

School Report News, views and openings


Office Spaces Guest Rooms Cool Homes Interior Ideas


New Mums Fashion, Fitness, Nannies &More



My favourite time of day is school drop-off, first thing in the morning. I knowwhat you’re thinking, and yes, it does have something to do with handing my kids over to someone else for the day, but there’s more to it than that. (Really! )

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We moved our boys to a new school last year and despite some early resistance to the change, every morning that we have dropped them off during their first year, we’ve been reminded of why we made that decision. The school community really made the transition so much easier, and we very quickly felt at home. So, every morning I genuinely enjoy walking through the hallways, catching up with the teachers, and chatting with the other mums and dads as they do drop-off too. As we share stories on everything from rough nights to homework, to plans for the weekend, there’s a strong sense of solidarity and camaraderie that is unique to parents of school-age children, and our school is no exception. It does tend to wear off the closer to the end of term we get, but there is always a buzz at the start of a brand new day, and I find it infectious. Still, I do have to admit that after the morning rush to get out the door by 7.20, it’s nice to know I have a few child- free hours ahead of me to achieve things! I’ve really missed that part of our daily routine over the summer break but I’ve made the most of being able to get out on school nights, and recently I tried Hong Kong’s hottest new bar (see page 122) and a fabulous new hotel in Macau (page 138) – all in the name of research, of course! We’ve also launched our first annual City Guide over the summer, so keep your eye out for that. It’s a fantastic resource for newcomers to HK, or those of you looking for something new. Until next month!





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UPFRONT 14 What’s New 16 Calendar 18 Subscribe now! HOME & PROPERTY 22 News 27 * Showcase:



Interior designer Emma Hurlston- Tseng shares the secrets of a South Bay apartment

37 * Showcase:

Interior designer EMMA HURLSTON-TSENG shares the secrets behind the serene South Bay apartment she has created for Libby Vaughan, founder of the Cambodian Children’s Fund Hong Kong (CCF).

Scandi style at Alexis Holm’s Sheung Wan flat 45 New Home for OVO 46 Interior Ideas: 48 Buying Guide: Bedrooms 52 Sleeping Soundly: 55 Buying Guide: Home offices 58 Neighbourhoods: Living in Happy Valley 62 On the Market: Properties for rent and sale What to look for in a mattress





Setting up the perfect guest room

LIFE & FAMILY 70 News 71 Rated PG: Our regular parenting column 72 Social Pages: Photos from recent events 74 All About Books: New releases and an author interview

94 Expat Insights: The reinvention of the trailing spouse 97 Insurance Tips

SCHOOL REPORT 76 Latest Developments


Home Ideas: Blissful bedrooms

79 New Openings 80 Back-to-school Essentials


Beautiful Bump: Lovely maternity dresses to keep you looking good!

82 Wardrobe Solutions 84 Buying Guide:

Maternity wear and baby essentials

89 Special Event:

What’s on at the Hong Kong Maternity Conference 92 Help for New Mums:

Maternity nurses discuss their roles

Showcase Features: Each issue, our home showcase features provide a through-the-keyhole look into some of our readers’ lifestyles and their interior design decisions. If you’d like us to profile your own home – whether it’s beautiful, quirky, historic or modern – and you’re willing to be interviewed and photographed, drop us a line at




BODY & MIND 106 Maternity Fitness: Caring for your pre- and post-baby body 110 Unique Beauty Treatments 114 Expert Voice: Looking after the health of your spine 115 Understanding Supplements WINE & DINE 120 News 122 Taste Test: New restaurants reviewed 124 Meet the Chef: Jason Atherton of Aberdeen Street Social 125 Wine Focus: The Flying Winemaker pairs Italian food and booze

122 Reviews: An exotic bar and a top-notch trattoria

134 Escapes: Not your everyday holiday

TRAVEL 128 News 130 Mauritius Moments: Five family-friendly activities 134 Trips with a Difference 136 Japan in Autumn 138 Weekend Break: We check into a couple of Macau hotels REGULARS 142 The Numbers that Matter 143 Our Advertisers 144 Parting Shot: My Hong Kong Home



GiaTrattoria Italiana 1/F,FleetArcade,FenwickPier 1LungKingStreet,WanChai 25118081 | Gia Trattoria is tucked away in a relatively quiet spot at Fenwick Pier inWanChai. It’s quitechallenging toget toviapublic transport, somy first tipwould be to take a taxi. The restaurant itself is set out like an open-plan, comfy Italian eatery, encouraging big get- togethers aswell as intimatemeals. And, as withanyclassic Italianmeal, Iwas there fora good fewhours and left ready toburst. Wewent for the set-lunch option,which comes in at a really reasonable $258 (for three courses plus coffee/tea), especially considering the amountof food you receive. An absolutemustwhen it comes to the first course is the burrata e pomodori , by far the freshest cheese of this kind that I’ve tasted inHong Kong, and served perfectlywith a selection of fresh tomatoes, imported from boutique Italian farms,wineriesandartisans. Picking a favourite from our two main courses – bistecca dimanzo (grilled sirloin steak with roasted potatoes and parmesan) and the formaggi pizza (with five cheeses and tomatoes) is a tough ask. Eating the light, thin-crustpizza feltalmostasauthentic as eating it in one ofmy favourite pizzerias inMilan, and the addition of shaved black summer truffle just added to the flavour.Yet thesteakrivalled those fromsomeof themore dedicatedsteakhouseshere inHongKong;so I’m still to choosemywinner. Because we also ordered a side of black trufflepasta ,as recommendedby renowned owner and chef Gianni Caprioli, I didn’t think I’d have room for dessert. But when presented with the beauty that was Gia’s homemade tiramisu I somehow found a second stomach.From the lunchmenu itself, I also recommend the carapina : a500-gram serve of homemade organic mascarpone gelatowith assorted fresh toppings ($368), for four to sixpeople to share. Mymeal atGia leftmedreaming ofmore, even as I walked out with one less button on my trousers than when I arrived! I’m genuinelyhappy tohave found an authentic Italian restaurant servinggoodhonestdishes with fresh ingredients, all topped offwith a chef whose passion and experience shines through in each and everybite. –EmmaMoyter

Taste Test Ophelia Shop#41A, 1/F,TheAvenue,LeeTungAvenue 200Queen’sRoadEast,WanChai 2520 1117 |

While not technically a restaurant, Ophelia is the bar everyone’sbeen talkingabout,andwewere looking forany excuse to try it recently. So,with the intentionof sampling thebar snacks,wepopped inearlyoneTuesdayevening for abite (OK, and a cocktail too). Evennon-drinkerswillbe impressedby theambienceand out-of-this-world interioratOphelia. Itmanages tobedark, sexy, flamboyant and exoticwhilemaintaining a surprising levelof sophisticationandcool–ahardbalance toachieve. This is thanks to the design talents of Ashley Sutton, an Australiabestknown fornumerousbars inBangkok. While the décor may be ah-mazing, what matters on this page is the food.We hadn’t eaten and really had no ideawhat to expect food-wise, sowe arrived starving.We started with the house-infused olives ($45) – delicious! – and followed them upwith Parma hamwith torched figs, ricotta andbalsamic ($150), and braisedbeetroots with goats’ cheese, walnuts, honey andmint ($98) –

both very good,with a nice balance of salty, creamy and sweet.We finishedwith trufflemushroom arancini with green goddess dressing ($98),my personal favourite of the evening – golden and crisp on the outside and oozing with truffley goodness on the inside. The whole school prawnswith chilli and Szechuan salt ($90)were tasty, but a little tricky to eat. All portionswere very generous, andwithAustralian chefAngusHarrison at the helm, the menu is set to expand soon. Thecocktailswerealsoreallyspecial. I tried LaDemoiselle ($145) –Calvados, champagne, rhubarb and rose cordial, andsandalwoodmist; itwasdeliciously floralandsummery, and I could have hadmore than one.My friend tried The Rimeof theAncientMariner ($165),which shedescribed asquitestrong,butalsoverynice.Wedidn’tget thechance to try the famousCheongasm,which isserved insideabirdcage, but it’sdefinitelyon the cardsnext time! –BrookeChenoweth







New at Woodland Mums and dads know the benefits of massage for themselves, but now they can learn how

wonderful it can be for babies too, with a six-week Baby Massage course being held by Woodland Pre-

Schools this August.Woodland is also offering Toddler Dance for little groovers at its Repulse Bay andMid-Levels campuses throughAugust and September.

Round and Round De-cluttering is always on the top of our to-do list but it’s really hard to make a start. So it’s great to hear that there’s another option to living with stacks of stuff around the house. Carousell , one of the top five shopping apps in Hong Kong, is possibly the easiest platform for you to sell your pre-loved items; and if you’re looking for a bargain you’ll find over a million listings on the community marketplace, a lot of which are up to 80 percent cheaper than the retail price! All it takes is 30 seconds to snap a photo, type a description and post a listing, and buying is just as simple. Download Carousell at . Special offer: BALtrans is giving Expat Living readers $500 off their overseas relocations and $300 off local moves (within Hong Kong territories). Simplymention the code “ExpatLiving2016” when you ask for a quote. And, if you’re happywith the service, tell your friends and join the referral programme; existing customers get supermarket coupons for every successful referral between now and the end of 2017. 2756 2882 | OntheMove Relocating can be an extremely stressful process, no matter whether it’s an international or local move. The BALtrans moving team offers professional, efficient and reliable door-to-door service, with a single point of contact to make the experience hassle-free.

Family-friendly Staycation Looking to get away somewhere close by? Or need accommodation for guests with little ones in tow? The Hong Kong Gold Coast Hotel now has six new themed rooms with a specially designed afternoon tea set to go with them. For a fun-filled staycation with a difference, choose either theMagical Princess, Dinosaurs, Outer Space, Pirates, Safari or Vintage Hong Kong Tram theme; as well as getting their own bed in the room, kids can enjoy access to the indoor kids’ club and an art workshop. Buffet breakfast is included too. 2452 8833 | reservations@goldcoasthotel.






Kowloon Bazaar (3 SEP) Back for its eighth year, the annual bazaar

promises to be bigger and better than ever, showcasing a wide variety of products, including authentic handicrafts, couture

and designer wear, household items and gifts, lifestyle and services, fashion accessories, jewellery and much more from both local and overseas vendors. You’ll also find product samples, lucky draws, F&B and networking opportunities throughout the day, all under the one roof. Regal Hotel, 71 Mody Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. Wellness 360 Carnival (25 SEP) Celebrate health and wellness at this popular one-day event, which will feature kids’ activities, fitness demos, performances and the usual line-up of healthy food and lifestyle vendors. Midday to 7pm, free entry. Lee Gardens One, 33 Hysan Ave, Causeway Bay. ART Asia Contemporary Art Show (15-18 SEP) The popular and highly successful Asia Contemporary Art Show returns for its ninth edition, at the Conrad Hong Kong. ACAS presents a diverse line up of more than 80 exhibitors from 15 countries in Asia and around the world, bringing an outstanding collection of more than 2,500 artworks including original paintings, limited

Asia Contemporary Art Show

Pep Bou’s Bubble Magic

Hi-5 Fairytale (27-28 AUG) Australia’s Hi-5 crew are bringing their Fairytale show to Hong Kong – a theatrical extravaganza full of your favourite stories, with special Hi-5 twists. Star Hall, KITEC, Kowloon Bay. Pep Bou’s Bubble Magic (14-18 SEP) Enter the magical world of bubble theatre with the internationally acclaimed bubble whizz and mime artist, Pep Bou. Bubble Magic is 65 minutes of fun, laughter, music and bubble brilliance, which will enchant children and adults alike. Drama Theatre, HKAPA, Wan Chai.

The Gruffalo’s Child (30 SEP – 2 OCT) Join the Gruffalo’s child on her adventurous mission in Tall Stories’ magical, musical adaptation of the much- loved picture book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Expect songs, laughs and scary fun for children aged three and up and their grown-ups, in the hugely popular show that’s toured Britain and the world! Drama Theatre, HKAPA, Wan Chai.

editions, sculpture, photography and more. Conrad Hotel, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty.



CONCERTS&SHOWS Jimmy Carr (24-26 AUG) Britain’s best-loved comedian and one of the biggest selling live acts in UK comedy, Jimmy Carr will perform in Hong Kong for the very first time with his brand new show, Funny Business. The show will be packed with one-liners, stories and jokes – some clever, some rude, and a few totally unacceptable! KGV, 2 Tin Kwong Road, Ho Man Tin

Merchant of Venice

Jimmy Carr

STAGE Merchant of Venice (7-11 SEP)


WMC I-1 World Muaythai Grand Extreme (9 AUG)

Shakespeare’s classic tale of the outsider Shylock is brought to life by Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. With acclaimed actor Jonathan Pryce ( Game of Thrones ) as Shylock, and director Jonathan Munby at the helm, it’s a level of production that doesn’t come through HK often, so don’t miss it! Lyric Theatre, HKAPA, Wan Chai. Following a sellout year in London’s West End and three successful UK tours, the charmingly incompetent English gentleman Bertie Wooster and his unflappable valet Jeeves are packing their bags for a trip to Hong Kong. Perfect Nonsense is a perfect night out for fans of PG Wodehouse’s iconic double act. Drama Theatre, HKAPA, Wan Chai. Jeeves and Wooster – Perfect Nonsense (13-25 SEP)

Hong Kong loves its martial arts and fans of Muay Thai flock to this annual event to watch some of the world’s best fighters battle it out. The main events on the card are the I-1 World Title Super-4 Championships, in two weight divisions. Expect to see a number of international and up-and-coming local challengers too. Star Hall, KITEC, Kowloon Bay. Arnold Classic Asia (20-21 AUG) wondering), the first annual Arnold Classic Asia Multi-Sport Festival will be held at AsiaWorld this August. It features men’s and women’s IFBB, live sports, health and fitness workshops and activities – and you may even catch a glimpse of the big fella himself! AsiaWorld Expo Arena, Lantau Island. Brought to HK by Arnie himself (Schwarzenegger in case you were

Pentatonix World Tour (22 SEP) Since bursting onto the scene in 2011, multi-platinum recording artists Pentatonix have sold more than 3.2 million albums in the US alone, won two Grammy Awards, sold out venues worldwide, and amassed over 1.5 billion views on their YouTube channel. They’re bringing their a capella talents to HK for one night only. AsiaWorld Expo, Lantau Island. Queen + Adam Lambert (28 SEP) Megastars Queen and their American Idol alum lead singer are currently touring Asia and will bring their incredible show to Hong Kong. Expect an unforgettable night full of special effects and rocking anthems. AsiaWorld Expo, Lantau Island.

17 AUG-SEP2016







FromMacau to Mauritius and in between! Summer Dining Getaways

School Report News, views and openings






FromMacauto Mauritiusand inbetween! Summer Dining Getaways

School Report News,views andopenings


Office Spaces Guest Rooms Cool Homes Interior Ideas

OfficeSpaces GuestRooms CoolHomes Interior Ideas


New Mums Fashion, Fitness,Nannies &More


New Mums Fashion, Fitness,Nannies &More



For only $188 (usual price $288) you’ll get: • Six bi-monthly issues delivered free to your postbox • FREE access to the digital edition, worth $230

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Offer ends 30 September. Subscription orders received after 15 September will start with the December-January 2017 edition. Subscription is non-refundable but transferable. For overseas subscription rates, email


48 Buying Guide:

Beds and bedroom accessories

Series 55, Okooko

27 South Bay Style: The inside scoop from an interior designer

46 Décor Ideas: Setting up the perfect room for guests

58 Neighbourhoods: A happy life in Happy Valley


Miele and Two Sugars, Please!

We all know how challenging it can be to find a decent cup of coffee in this city, and Miele has met that challenge by letting you make your own café-quality brew at home. The CM7 series of coffee makers consists of top-of-the-line models that can easily prepare up to 20 different beverages, including tea, turning anyone into a barista with the touch of a button. The brand has also created a range of coffee blends to enjoy with the new machines; plus, a collaboration with Blooms Roastery Craft Tea means you get a complimentary gift set when you buy the CM7500. We’ll drink to that!

TheLoft Look If you’re a fan of the loft style or thinking of going for an industrial look and feel in your home, Stockroom Furniture Outlet has added to its range of pieces of this kind. Check out the Nanook bookshelf, for example, a sleek yet sturdy storage for books and all your other treasures, available in different lengths to suit different- sized spaces. What’s more, the Stockroom summer sale is on now, offering up to 80 percent off! C & F, 20/F, Hong Kong Industrial Building, 444 Des Voeux Road West, Kennedy Town. 2817 0999 | A New Storey After a big move, Carpet Buyer can now be found on the 26th floor at Horizon Plaza. They’ve restocked and have all newcarpets – fromcontemporary styles to antique Persians. With the summer break coming to an end, now’s the time to shop their amazing collection of new and unusual carpets fromall over the world. 26/F, Unit 2604-2607, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing St, Ap Lei Chau. 2850 5508 |




La Vita Bella No one does outdoor living quite like the Italians, so it makes sense that they know how to make gorgeous outdoor furniture. The Paola Lenti brand has been inspired by nature and comes in a range of vibrant and fresh colours – and thanks to Colourliving it’s now available in Hong Kong. As well as looking amazing, the brand focuses on functionality, by using durable fabrics and the latest technology and quality craftsmanship. Check out the hand-crocheted floral rugs, indoor and outdoor seating, tables, parasols and more at 333 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai.

Easy Acclimatising Hands up if you run more than one air-con every day in the summer? Then you’re probably part of the 97 percent of households here that do. Which means that up to 50 percent of your energy usage each year is likely generated by running the AC, and your power bills no doubt reflect this. So what can you do about it? Suffer in sweltering silence? Enter Ambi Climate , the add-on that understands feedback about how hot or cold you feel, while its intelligent sensors gauge weather and environmental conditions to automatically adjust your AC for the perfect indoor climate. The device also adjusts your air-con unit so it’s working as little as possible to achieve your

Let There Be Light

ideal temperature, significantly reducing your overall energy usage. It’s super easy to set up and use, so even those who aren’t tech savvy will love it!

Take Cover L o o k s c a n b e deceiving, and we just love it when a product surprises us. The Vineyard Cantilever looks just like a classic European hardwood market umbrella but it’s made with Tuuci’s exquisite and resilient

Geometric shapes are so hot right now in the world of homeware and design, and TomDixon ’s new series of mini etched pendants are a stunning example of this. Made using industrial processes, the surfaces of each pendant are shaped pieces of acid-etched metal – brass, silver or copper – that are photo-etched and dipped in acid again. The effect is that each lamp gives off a mass of complex linear shapes when lit. Available at Lane Crawford, Etch retails at HK$5,900.

aluma-teak, guaranteed towithstand all types of corrosion from the elements. It also comes with durable marine- grade fabrics by Sunbrella, which provide protection fromboth sun and rain. So, you can enjoy the outdoors in style, knowing that your umbrella can take whatever the Hong Kong weather throws at it! 902 Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau. 2554 9088 |




I n t e r i o r de s i gne r EMMA HURLSTON-TSENG shares the secrets behind the serene South Bay apartment she has created for Libby Vaughan, founder of the Cambodian Children’s Fund Hong Kong (CCF).




27 AUG-SEP2016

You’ve created such a tranquil oasis out of a standard Hong Kong apartment. How easy is it to turn a rented space into a proper home? There’s so much you can do to make your rented space feel unique, homelike and personal to you. Your first task is to think about the mood and feel you want to evoke. Libby had previously lived in a house with dark parquet floors, and a great deal of dark wood furniture. She wanted to move to something lighter and airier, in tune with this sea-view apartment, where space flowed more freely. She loves green, and so we built the colour scheme around a peaceful palette of sage, moss, lime, soft blue, grey and cream, echoing the hues in her artworks, and using the fabric from a couple of existing chairs as a reference. The finished apartment has a very soothing, relaxing feel.

What are some other considerations to keep in mind? It’s important to think carefully about how you’re going to use the space. Besides needing a more open-style floor plan for her growing boys, Libby loves entertaining at home. She wanted a flexible cocktail space because she generally serves canapés rather than a sit-down starter, so we created a spacious area with seating that was easy to move around, and found a dining table with an extra pop-up leaf that will easily seat 10. A good designer will often ask detailed questions about the way a client uses their home: usually, people haven’t articulated it even to themselves! I designed and installed a wooden screen to divide the entrance hall from the living area, which immediately gave the room a different feel. As well as creating a separate zone, the contemporary take on the Chinese trellis design echoes the

geometric pattern of the carpet, helping the eye travel around the space. We weren’t allowed to drill into the floor, so the screen is tension-mounted to fix it securely to the ceiling and wall. We were also forbidden to paint the walls, but I wanted to introduce more colour into the living space, so we commissioned a large, sculptural bookcase for behind the sofa. The soft grey panels at the back are lacquered to reflect the light and give a bit of shine, and hidden lighting showcases the books, ornaments and treasures Libby’s collected from around the world, and provides a touch of drama.

And what about the choice of furniture?

Being able to commission furniture that is exactly right for the space is one of the obvious advantages of working with an interior designer. I have a contact list




of reliable manufacturers and craftsmen who I know will produce quality pieces. I commissioned the dining buffet to be made with two different sorts of wood, to create a dialogue with an existing cherry- wood cupboard, and with the new, lighter wood, dining table by Danish company Bruunmunch. For a bit of fun, I lined the inside of the buffet drawers with beautifully patterned wallpaper. You can’t see it unless you open it up, but it’s often the little details that make the difference! Anything I couldn’t commission or find in Hong Kong, I had shipped from the UK: for example, the dining room dhurrie in the gorgeous horseradish shade is the perfect size, and picks up on the colours in the sitting area. The majority of standard lamps also came from overseas. Hong Kong is such a small place, people often end up having the same things, and I wanted to make sure this space was uniquely personal and sophisticated.

29 AUG-SEP2016

As an interior designer with a background in fashion, what tips do you have for bringing a room up to date? It’s true the fashion and interiors worlds are the closest they’ve ever been, with catwalk trends greatly influencing furniture and textiles, but I would caution against slavishly following fashion, unless you want your design to very quickly date! If you fall in love with the colour du jour – a Klein blue perhaps – consider using it for cushions or accessories, rather than committing to a large piece of furniture like a sofa. It can be fabulously impactful, but again, carefully consider the mood and feel you prefer: strong, bright colours do not always make for a peaceful environment. Take where you live into account. Personally, I love the look and feel of velvet; those rich, jewel colours are so on trend at the moment. They are especially fabulous combined with dark painted walls, but that particular look is much more suited to a cold climate. If you’re renovating or changing your décor during December and January, think about the rest of the year in Hong Kong when the weather is light, airy and warm for much of the time. Similarly, some fabric trends just don’t translate well into our humid climate. One of the current fashions is for long shaggy furs dyed different colours. I’ve got a gorgeous pale pink shaggy cushion, but I’ll be putting it away as soon as the weather starts heating up. It gets to the point where you feel hot just looking at it! Tell us a bit about the layered approach that you like to adopt. Rather than fill a room with a host of modish, contemporary furniture and accessories, consider mixing different looks and eras. In Libby’s flat, for example, we combined mid- century in the dining area with classic contemporary and vintage glamour in the living room. We commissioned and



upholstered a sofa in beautiful European linen and bought the pared-back Danish dining table from Rimba Rhyme, but I also found these gorgeous Lucite and brass coffee tables from an antique dealer in the UK. They’re French (Pierre Vandal circa 1970s) and I loved how the brass trim wasn’t new and shiny – the current trend for harsh, shiny metals will inevitably date – but had a very mellow patina. I also adore the feeling and sense of journey behind vintage pieces, and it’s interesting to mix them into a space, especially an ostensibly contemporary one. There is much more appreciation in Hong Kong now for antiques. The layering concept is also important when using fabrics and materials. It’s key to use different textures and scales of pattern, and colours that are in the same family, so they work well together. In the master bedroom I’ve combined a crewelwork cream bedspread with green woven fabrics on chairs and ottomans; the materials are all different, but the varying textures add interest and harmonise beautifully together. Libby needed a desk that would fit seamlessly into a bedroom environment, so I sourced this shagreen (sharkskin) piece from Indigo, and teamed it with a slubby linen-covered chair in moss green, for an extra punch of colour. It looks like a piece of comfortable bedroom furniture, but it’s actually very firm and supportive. Plants can play a role too, right? Yes – another current trend that’s easy to adopt is the 1970s vogue for houseplants. Libby was hesitant




about wholly buying into the seventies cheese plant trend, so instead we’ve put a Kentia Palm next to the entrance screen. Aside from that all-important layered feel, it adds the missing pop of dark green amongst the other tones in the room, and enhances interest with its negative space and shadows. It was sourced from Hayfever in the Mong Kok flower market. It’s a well curated and not overly cluttered shop, so it’s relatively easy to pick out great specimens – and the staff is very knowledgeable and helpful. Libby has a long- standing passion for orchids, but we needed something more contemporary to line up on the deep window ledge in the dining room. We loved their mini Eco Pochi plants. Each cube is made in Japan from black bamboo charcoal or white volcanic ash, and they help purify the air as natural room deodorisers, as well as looking great. Of course, one of the best ways to make a space unique is to fill it with personal treasures and paintings. Libby collects and has some beautiful pieces, especially the picture in the living area by young Cambodian artist Dany Chan, which is made entirely out of pencil sharpenings. Everywhere you look, there’s a compelling piece of art. You’ve lived in Hong Kong for 21 years and must have seen a great deal of change. What are the most marked differences? Originally, there were a lot more British people because you could work in Hong Kong without a visa, so it was easier to come and go. In recent years, there has been an influx of French residents, which has brought an interesting new dimension to the city; the French have an inherent appreciation of beautiful design and, of course, good food! Otherwise rents have risen – and continue to rise – and expatriates are typically living in smaller apartments, although I think that is the same, to a lesser extent, elsewhere in the world. Unfortunately, the negative impact of rent rises is to stifle emerging businesses. Hong Kong is full of people with great creative talent and ideas setting up new enterprises, but high rents make it almost impossible to thrive. The city needs more diversity, and these businesses need reasonable rents to flourish.

33 AUG-SEP2016


Rapidly increasing rents are also ruining the authentic flavour of old neighbourhoods in places like Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun. It’s so lovely that Hong Kong is finally getting the trendy coffee places and niche cocktail bars, but as they become popular, the balance tips, rents go up, and the neighbourhood changes. One of the things I’ve always loved most about Hong Kong is the mixture of new juxtaposed with old, and that, sadly, is in danger of changing. That said, there is a growing awareness of the need to preserve Hong Kong’s heritage, and recent projects such as creative hub PMQ in Soho have expertly blended old and new – very much in line with my design aesthetic. As an interior designer, my aim has always been to sensitively combine the two – honour someone’s special pieces, but mix them with the new. Ultimately, a home should be a place to embrace memories, through a harmonious mix of objects, pictures and furnishings, to create a space that represents someone’s unique personality, and tells a story about their life.


Rimba Rhyme 5/F, Horizon Plaza 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau Indigo 6/F, Horizon Plaza 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau

Casacapriz 1/F, Kwai Bo Industrial Building 40 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen Bricks & Stones G/F, 97 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai 2520 0577

Hayfever G/F, 62-64 Flower Market Road

Mong Kok 2397 0668




BY TARA JENKINS; PHOTOGRAPHY KEN WONG TwoRooms Treasures of Discovering Swedish design and Scandi style in a pair of retail spaces and a small but eclectically furnished flat in Sheung Wan.

37 AUG-SEP2016

S tockholm native Alexis Holm is describing his countrymen’s fondness for surströmming , or rotten herring: “The fermentation process expands the can, so when you open it, it explodes!” he explains. “It smells like a sewer, and tastes like it smells because of the fermentation: a mixture of ammonia and a little bit of spice. I only tried it recently, and hated it!” He may not be a fan of this particular delicacy, but you’d be hard-pressed to find another Scandinavian in Hong Kong so wholly absorbed in all things Swedish. Arriving in Asia six years ago at the suggestion of a fellow designer,

– which inspired me to start importing pieces,” explains Alexis. “Once I’d been in Hong Kong for a while, I suddenly became interested in everything Swedish. When you live in Sweden you don’t appreciate your surroundings, but I go back to Stockholm now and think how beautiful everything is: the landscape, the architecture. I’d love to return permanently but I need to save some cash, so I can buy a place there, and a place here – then I can divide my time between Sweden and Hong Kong!” For now, Alexis and his Hong Kong- born partner Jan – and two energetic dogs – live in a tiny rented flat, a stone’s throw from the Square Street shop. The little space is packed full of treasures,

Alexis began by designing funky footwear and quickly diversified into making sunglasses, jewellery and watches – all unmistakably original, and with an elegant Scandi vibe. Now his original retail space in Sheung Wan’s Square Street has been joined by a second premises around the corner, to showcase his current passion: antique Swedish ceramics. Alexis sources each unique porcelain piece from an online auction site in Sweden, his father wraps and posts them, and Hong Kongers can purchase a beautiful little piece of Swedish history to sit on their own coffee table. “I owned a collection of exquisite cobalt blue ceramics from the 1940s called Blue Fire – coffee cups and bowls




which have either been in Alexis’s family for years, or found along the way. Two of the framed pictures hanging on the walls of the sitting room, for instance – a delicately painted, beautifully observed botanical watercolour and an expansive, bold sketch of a village street – were painted respectively by Alexis’s mother and grandfather. “On my mother’s side all my relatives are classically trained artists; my mother herself, her brothers and her father,” explains Alexis. “My grandfather started off drawing in the army, doing pencil sketches of soldiers in the platoons, and even now at 90, he still paints using everything fromwatercolour to oils. He’s incredibly talented, and a true artist.”

The precious family heirlooms are hung alongside a huge antique map of the Swedish archipelago, which rubs shoulders with a contemporary mirror from Organic Modernism, some quirky black-and-white photographs, and a couple of gorgeous cobalt-coloured ceramic plates from the same Blue Fire collection as the coffee cups. Dotted around the room are traditional Dala horses – little wooden equine figures painted in various colours to represent different areas of Sweden. The artwork is emblematic of Alexis’s unique decorating style: the curating of antique, retro and modern pieces from several different cultures to create an eclectic mix, which somehow work perfectly all together.

The compact dining table is a classic 1950s Swedish design, which Alexis has given an original twist by combining with Marc Newson chairs, found years ago in a sale at OVO. The sofa is a modern piece, but is flanked by the most exquisite little painted side-table. Alexis picked it up during a road trip around Dalarna, north of Stockhom. “The table dates from 1904, and was designed to store jewellery – the lid lifts up, and there are compartments inside for different-sized pieces,” explains Alexis. “The hand-painting technique is an old Swedish one called Kurbits, and if you look closely, you can see the wood is painted too, not just the flowers. The piece literally glows.”

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Alexis loves mid-century modern furniture; he used to have a far larger collection, including a large sideboard from Denmark and an elegant teak sofa, but Mei Mei the dog relentlessly chewed the legs and so eventually it had to be sold! Illuminating the flat are two stunning industrial-style ceiling lights, which Alexis shipped from Sweden but has adapted in his own style: “They’re supposed to have plastic grilles at the bottom, but they were ugly, so I took them off!” The pieces all sit in 350 square feet, which is essentially two rooms: a kitchen/diner/ sitting room, and a tiny bedroom with en- suite bathroom. Alexis sought permission from the landlady and renovated the flat himself. “I took a sledgehammer and bashed in the whole kitchen sink; it was moulded into the wall, with steel supports!” he laughs. “I replaced it with a much nicer one from IKEA, and tiled the wall around it with light blue mosaics to make it look more contemporary. I also updated the floor with new wood-effect laminate; much better than wood itself, which changes in the humidity and is more expensive. But I would never do that again, it was such hard work!” His masterstroke was to wallpaper the alcove that sits directly behind the dining table with a beautiful paper he found on a Swedish website. “The wallpaper is over 100 years old, and is embossed with gold,” explains Alexis. “It looks Japanese, but actually dates from the Jugend or Art Nouveau period at the turn of the century – the Asian aesthetic was very popular in Central Europe then.” The sophisticated paper tones beautifully with the warm wood of the Marc Newson chairs and the wooden legs of the Swedish table, and makes a very special feature of the dining nook. Swedish food – surströmming aside – is another of Alexis’s passions. “SverigeShoppen in Salisbury Road, TST, is the closest you can get to genuine Swedish fare in Hong Kong,” he says. “It’s undeniably expensive, but the owner’s wife works for Finnair, so they get good deals on importing the produce. At home I like to cook simple, filling dishes like pyttipanna , a stir-fried meat and diced potato dish, or stuvade makaroner , a macaroni dish cooked in milk. Unfortunately, my girlfriend




“Once I’d been in Hong Kong for a while, I suddenly became interested in everything Swedish! When you live in Sweden you don’t appreciate your surroundings.”

finds Swedish food too heavy: after two spoonsful of the stuff she couldn’t eat anymore!” Perhaps the most fascinating thing about Alexis’ flat is that the décor is completely unexpected: the Swedish curios and heirloom pieces are not the logical choice for a Scandinavian designer with a self-confessed love of clean lines and pared-back style, but Alexis’s design aesthetic is elegance with a quirky twist. Downstairs in the shop, his footwear brand, Gram, consists of beautifully made shoes, but look closely and you’ll see they’re rather unusual. “We try to design something that is recognisable, but also new and special, using fabrics other brands wouldn’t dare use: exotic materials like wools, polyesters, unusual weaves or softshell waterproof,” explains Alexis. “I like to think of them as funky shoes with Scandinavian style! The best sellers aren’t always our most expressive styles – men particularly are traditionally conservative – but sometimes something catches on which is unexpected.” The stylish Minuteman watches too are

constructed from unusual materials, and have a pleasing Mad Men aesthetic. “It’s acetate plastic, the same material they make sunglasses out of,” explains Alexis. “It comes in slabs and you have to CNC, lathe it, then polish it – it doesn’t just hop out of a mould”. Conversely, the newer line he’s just designed, Aluminum, is closer to what you’d expect: “This design is elegant and clean and weighs almost nothing because it’s made from aluminium. When you hold the buckle in your hand, for example, it’s like it doesn’t exist,” says Alexis. Across the road in the other retail space, the antique Swedish ceramics are a pleasing counterpoint to the dramatic jewellery that hangs on the wall. This jewellery isn’t Alexis’s – he imports it from a designer called Cornelia Webb in Sweden, and there are a few pieces from Faux/Real New York – but each piece is fiercely cutting-edge. The dramatic, draped pieces are reminiscent of body armour or chain mail, and the bracelets and chokers are coolly industrial and very striking.

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Alexis’s mind is still working overtime about combining the ceramics and jewellery with another line of products from Sweden, and he’s busy developing new products for the Square Street shop: this time, a line of jewellery based on jigsaw puzzles. “I’ll design anything as long as I can do a good job,” he shrugs. Indeed, everything he does is driven by the thrill of creating something new and beautiful; the desire to make money isn’t high on Alexis’ list of priorities. “If you want to sell high volumes and make a huge amount of money, you shouldn’t be a designer,” he says. “The people who own the most successful brands are traditionally businessmen or women who come up with an idea, then brief a designer to create it. At the end of the day, what I do is about personal satisfaction. I’m from Sweden, remember! A good life is much more important.”


DINING La Cabane 62 Hollywood Road, Central 2776 6070

ABC Kitchen Shop 7, Food Market 1 Queen Street 9278 8227

Pololi 35-39 Graham Street, Central 2755 8099 SHOPPING Organic Modernism 5 Square Street, Sheung Wan 2559 0609 Manks 3/F, 1 Yip Fat Street, Aberdeen 2522 2115 OVO 16 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai 2526 7226




A New Home for OVO The latest furniture collection from OVO is inspiredbymid-centuryDanish design and focuses on the enduring beauty of oak. The new pieces combine that wonderful wood with cast iron, steel and other industrial elements, using traditional joinery techniques andexquisite finishes. Here are some highlights of the collection.

Vega dining table in solid oak and cast iron

Visit the newOVO store at Horizon Plaza to explore a sophisticated range of fur niture, homeware and more. The new store also offers a custom-made service, which allows you to have your own designs brought to life with the same quality c r a f t sman s h i p t he brand is known for.

Tama shelves in solid oak and oxidised steel

Shop 501, Horizon Plaza, Ap Lei Chau 2529 8618 |

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Guess Who’s Coming toStay?

Our tips on setting up the perfect guest room in the home – plus a selection of products to get your design mind ticking over. As expats, we’re often asked to open our homes to visitors. Mums and dads are always welcome, mothers- and fathers- in-laws are sometimes welcome, and children of friends we last saw 20 years ago are welcome in very small time slots! If you’re lucky enough to have a spare room to make into a designated guest room, then it has to be welcoming but neutral enough to appeal to its various types of inhabitants – remember: sometimes the visitors might be work colleagues.

Sweet The more we learn about sleep, the more we realise how critical it is to our physical and mental wellbeing. You will have an intimate affair with beds for a cumulative total of at least 20 years of your life. The perfect bed means you wake up feeling rested and full of energy, so how do you find the right mattress? ROCHELLE LE PINE from Okooko tells us what she looks for. Dreams

A classic solid wood bed with clean lines and a good mattress that doesn’t cost a huge amount is ideal.




So, should you have a double bed, or are two singles more flexible? If the guest room has to double as the study, a playroom or a dining room, then the furniture also has to be flexible. Sofa beds are a great option, but they have to be comfortable to lie on! Hands up those of you who’ve had to spend a night on a really uncomfortable one … It’s not always easy having guests – or being one for that matter, but there are a few key “must haves” that will make a visit easier for both of you. • A comfortable bed. • Nice bed linen and a spare blanket, in case the person isn’t adjusted to the climate or air-con. • Somewhere to put away even just a fewclothes and personal effects. • A bedside light or standing lamp so you can make your way around a strange room if you need to get up in the middle of the night! • Nice towels that are already on the bed so they don’t have to be asked for. • A glass and decanter of water, so no one has to wander around the house at night looking for a drink.

All items on these pages are available from Stockroom Furniture Outlet, Rm. C & F, 20/F, Hong Kong Industrial Building, 444 Des Voeux Road West, Kennedy Town. 2817 0999 |

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BACK TO BED! We spend the first few years of our life getting told to spend more time in bed, then as teenagers we’re told we’re spending too much time there. In adulthood, it should be about enjoyment – making sure you have a comfortable bed, lovely soft sheets and décor that you like looking at. Here are some of our choices to help you make your ideal boudoir.

Cosmopolitan bed and trumpet table lamps, Tequila Kola, 2877 3295,




Malina cane headboard, INSIDE, 2873 1795,

Chalet chest of drawers, Tequila Kola, 2877 3295,

Citta washed waffle duvet cover and pillowcase, INSIDE, 2873 1795,

Decker bed with three rollable drawers in reclaimed solid teak wood, TREE, 2870 1582/3,

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