December 2016 - January 2017


DEC 16 JAN 17




Loads of Ideas GIFT

Super School Guide Cushions, Curtains &Carpets

BOATING NZRapids & Phuket Islands

Reader Survey WINNERS

Fashion & Beauty

Tips for Xmas & Beyond


We’ve had a number of writers, in this issue and the last, describe the ongoing onslaught of public holidays and parties that seem to extend frommid-autumn festival right through to Chinese New Year. If shopping is a national pastime here, then Christmas is definitely the ultimate excuse to go all out. While some find it a bit over the top, I absolutely love it! From the gaudy lights and the magnificent displays of decorations in the malls, to the concerts and East-meets-West take on traditions, it’s all a lot of fun. And with Chinese New Year falling at the end of January in 2017, it’s basically going to be a month-long party! There is, of course, another side to the festive season, and it’s a chance for the city to show her good side. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know a number of Hong Kong-based charities this year, and I’m constantly in awe of the selfless work that they do to help those in need in this city – whether it’s through raising funds at an annual gala, or collecting everyday items for distribution. They do great work, never more so than at this time of year, and the level of generosity and kindness in a city this size always amazes me. Hong Kong definitely has a big heart beneath it all. It’s been a great year for us here at Expat Living , and we have loved sharing it with you all. We’ve got a lot of great ideas in this issue for Christmas, New Year and beyond, and next year promises to be bigger and better than ever, so keep reading! Wishing you all the very best for the end of the year, and the start of the new one. See you in February! Hong Kong doesn’t do winter well. But what it lacks in central heating, the city more than makes up for when it comes to getting festive.

Stay updated online

NEWS – WHAT’S GOING ON? Read the latest Hong Kong happenings EVENTS CALENDAR – POST YOUR EVENT FOR FREE! Having a party or a promotional launch and want to get the word out about it on our website? Just head to , click on “Post an event”, and fill in the details. We’ll do the rest! WHERE TO BUY A list of retail outlets where you can buy the latest copy of Expat Living



DEC 16-JAN 17


CONTACT US General Enquiries: +852 3480 7614 | +65 6259 0058 | Advertising Sales: | Subscription: +65 6812 1783 | Production: +65 6812 1787 | Editorial & Media Releases: Calendar of Events: Events: Websites: | I Printed by Ho Printing Singapore Pte Ltd ( Published by Expat Living Publications Pte Ltd 18 Howard Road, #08-10 Novelty BizCentre, Singapore 369585

Cover: Vanimal


DEC 16-JAN 17


UPFRONT 10 What’s New 12 What’s On 14 Follow Us! 16 Social Pages: HOME & PROPERTY 24 News 27 Christmas Décor 28 * Showcase:

37 A Stanley apartment

Calendar of Upcoming Events

with a French rural feel

Photos from recent events

We meet Mika Green in her Tai Tam home

37 * Showcase:

Nicky Roberts on the transition from Stanley to France

46 Winter Warmers 48 Holiday Decorating: Tips from John McLennan of Indigo Living 50 Shopping Ideas: Cushions, throws and other soft furnishings 55 Talking Property: Relocation insights from JLL’s Stella Abraham 58 On The Market: Properties for sale and lease

LIFE & FAMILY 64 News 66 Book Previews 68 Rated PG: Our regular parenting column

70 Toys, Toys, Toys! 73 Business Profile:

We meet the founder of Henry and Brothers

74 Christmas Shopping:

Find out what’s on at the Prestige Fairs

SUPER SCHOOL GUIDE 79 Parents, teachers and specialists give us their views on schooling in Hong Kong


Home Ideas: Blissful bedrooms

94 Men of Hope:


Beat the chill with fab winter wear

Helping to fight heart disease in children

97 Expat Life:

There’s always something on in Hong Kong!

101 Gift Ideas:

For Christmas and all year round

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 118 News 119 Tried & Tested: A unique new beauty treatment 120 Get the Glow: Four ways to look fab this festive season 122 Fatigue 101: How to fight that sleepy feeling

124 Digital Detox 126 Savvy Style:

Looking great in your 30s and beyond

128 Winter Wear

Staying stylish and warm at the same time

WINE & DINE 134 News 136 Taste Test: New restaurants reviewed 140 Festive Dining:

Where to go and what to eat for Christmas

142 Wine Regions: Asia comes of age

140 Ideas for Christmas lunch and dinner


A different way to



explore Phuket


TRAVEL 146 News 150 Boating in Thailand: Hire the Merdaka and cruise Phuket with friends 153 Family Fun in New Zealand REGULARS 158 Important Numbers to Keep Handy 159 Our Advertisers 160 Parting Shot: Holding up half the sky

The JIAGroup has an amazing range ofoptionsat itsvarious restaurants, from traditional Cantonese festive menus at Duddell’s , and an Italian affair at 208 Duecento Otto , to a very British Christmas menu at Aberdeen Street Social and theperfect roastspackedwith festive ingredients for sharingwith family at Rhoda. If seafood is more your thing, the festive brunch ($598 per person) at Seafood Room is a good option.With a selection of raw items, a salad buffet, carvingstation,seafoodmainsanddessert – plus free flow! – you’ll think all your Christmaseshave come at once. One of the highlights of this time of year are the lights covering the city’s skyscrapers, and the best place to view these isTsim ShaTsui,without adoubt. Looking for a family-friendly option that’ll please the little diners as well? Jamie’s Italian is serving up a three different seasonal menus through December, with a focus on family favourites and festive treats. There’s a lunch set ($168/$198), the Festive Formal Set ($328), which is a little more grown-up, and theWOWMenu ($468 per person), which embodies Jamie Oliver’s love for table-sharing.

JamieOliver's WOWMenu


Seafood Room



Whetheryou’re looking for someholiday-inspired fare or home-delivered feasts forentertaining familyand friends,we’ve got a quick guide to the city’s best, righthere. Did someone say turkey? Let’s be honest, tackling a 10-pound turkey isnot for the faint-heartednovice chef, sowhy not leave it to the experts thisholiday season? EclipseHospitality Group willdeliver a fully cooked, oven- roasted, 10-to-12-poundUSA turkey to yourdoor.They alsohave a rangeof side dishes or a full catering package, with everything from salads to sweets thrown in. While technically Blue Butcher and Meat Specialist is a dine-in venue, its famous Hunter Valley free-range turkeysareavailable fordelivery through Deliveroo .Order a full ($1,880) or half turkey ($980), served with mashed potatoes, homemade pork stuffing,

chorizo, brussels sprouts, gravy and cranberry sauce.All turkey orders come with sweet potato pie and cinnamon whippedcream, forasweetending toyour festivemeal.All turkeysmustbeordered 48 hours in advance. | Classified has taken all thehardwork out ofprepping for a festivedinnerwith itsseasonalhampers.Someare filledwith treats likemince pies, gingerbreadmen and tea, while others have the classic additions youneed tomake yourdinner extra special, like gravy, seasonings, mixednuts,wineandcheese.Thehardest partwill be choosingwhich one to take home. Prices start at $700 and hampers will be available for delivery through December. Speakingofamazinghampers, the team at TasmaniaFreshFoods have imported some goodies from Down Under and wrapped them up beautifully for gift giving or just tucking into. Hampers are priced at $980 with next day- delivery.Orderscanbeplacedbyemailing , and if your order before 15 December you’ll get15percent off.

LeBistro Winebeast

JamieOliver's CrispySquid

Farewell,2016! A number of venues are also offering something different on 31 December. Whether you’re looking for somewhere fabulous to ring in theNewYear, or you just want your lastmeal of 2016 to be spectacular, you’llbe spoilt for choice. For a très chic French-inspired New Year’s Eve, book a table at Cocotte , on Wyndham Street. The focus here is on gastronomy and a lighter takeonFrench classics in the bistro’s specialNYEmenu ($980perperson). Prefersomething light-hearted,perhaps a themed night out? It’s a case of “the fork awakens” at DiVino , as it hosts a StarWars-inspired dinner of galactic proportions on 31 December. Blast off into 2017with a five-course dinner for

$888, or $1,380 with free-flow drinks andprizes tobewon. booking@divino. If you’re keen to feast your eyes on fireworks while you dine, hit the high spots. ALTO will be celebrating its first NYEwithablack-and-gold themedparty. From the 31st floor you can watch the city ring in 2017, while enjoying the set menu. For bookings, email alto@

Baby, it’scoldoutside Have you been chargedwith organising the annual team dinner? Got family in town and need to take them out for Christmas dinner? Restaurants all over theplaceareoffering some superb festive menus thisholiday season. Checkout LeBistroWinebeast on22, 23 and 24 Decemberwhen Chef Johan andhis culinary teamwill serve a special Christmas Eve five-course dinnermenu ($688perperson) featuringclassics from SouthWest France. le-bistro

Formore dining ideasover the festiveseason, keepaneyeon ourwebsite,!








The festive season always provides a great excuse to buy some new frocks, but finding something both sophisticated and stylish can prove a challenge. Premium British fashion retailer Phase Eight understands this and is launching a new full-length evening gown line just in time for the social whirl. Its elegant maxi gowns feature jewel tones and luxe embellishments such as lace and sequins, perfect for a formal event or a romantic evening. Visit the newest store in Festival Walk, or the boutiques in Causeway Bay, Tai Koo Shing and Tsim Sha Tsui. Dress to Impress

Making Art in Macau The Taipa area of Macau is on the rise as a new art destination offering visitors an alternative to casinos and crowds. Newly opened Taipa Village Art Space is located in a traditional shophouse in the centre of Taipa, and will be dedicated to showcasing the works of both local and international artists. Its first solo exhibition, running until 8 January, is P.I.B.G.: On the Verge by local Macanese graffiti artist Pat Lam Ka Hou (street tag “P.I.B.G.”). The exhibition connects outdoor graffiti murals in the neighbourhood with a number of artworks inside the art space. If you’re thinking about visiting Macau over the holidays, look out for special festive events in Taipa, along with live performances and eclectic pop-ups.

Touch & Go! Alternatives to Hong Kong’s hit-and-miss taxi services are gaining momentum, and a new service is adding a whole new level of class. Go Lux offers affordable premium cars – think Mercs, BMWs and Teslas – that can be booked ahead of time. The first service of its kind in HK, the new transportation app is the brainchild of two local Hong Kongers, Kieran Rogers and Chris Edwards. Their aim is to provide better service, more flexibility and touch-of-a-button convenience. Download the app from iTunes or Google Play to get going. Go Lux also offers a complimentary “meet and greet” service inside the terminal for airport pick-ups.

Book a Date with Santa One of the best things about the festive season is watching how much the kids enjoy the annual trip to meet Father Christmas. Bookazine is getting into the spirit of things with visits from Santa Claus direct from Lapland to its Hong Kong stores. Santa will be available to take present orders, pose for photos and listen to Christmas stories. His festive tour locations include Bookazine Repulse Bay (3 December), Prince’s Building (4 December), Discovery Bay (10 December) and IFC Mall (11 December), 2pm to 4pm. 2555 0431


DEC 16-JAN 17


Hong Kong Winterfest (2-31 DEC) The centrepiece of Winterfest is undoubtedly the massive Christmas Tree at Statute Square, with lights that rival

The Fayre of St John’s (1 DEC)

Kick off the festive season by heading to St John’s Cathedral for an evening of carols and hymns, as well as some unique performances and surprises set against the backdrop of the historic building. The third year of the event will see proceeds donated to Maggie’s Caring Cancer Centre, which provides free services to cancer patients. The Fayre will be followed by an after-party at KEE Club. St John’s Cathedral, 4-8 Garden Road, Central. The Snow Queen: A Truly Wicked Pantomime (11-18 DEC) Hong Kong Players’ annual Christmas pantomimes have been delighting audiences for more than 50 years. This year, enjoy an extravaganza of song, dance and jokes as the wicked Snow Queen plays havoc with the love affair between village girl and boy, Gerda and Kay. Kellett Theatre, Kellett School, 7 Ham Ling Street, Kowloon Bay. The Nutcracker (18-27 DEC) This classic Christmas ballet tells the magical tale of Clara, Fritz and Nutcracker as they battle the evil Rat King. The Hong Kong Ballet production will feature Jurgita Dronina, principal dancer of The National Ballet of Canada, as guest principal on the Christmas Day and Boxing Day performances. Suitable for ages three and above. Grand Theatre, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui.

those of the city. Pay a visit to the tree for the chance to meet Father Christmas or enjoy a performance of classic carols. Love locks can also be bought for HK$50 to hang on the railings. North Statute Square, Central (adjacent to Mandarin Oriental). Hong Kong Women’s Choir Grappa’s Family Christmas Lunch (11 DEC) If you like your Christmas dinner with a side of song, head to Grappa’s Cellar for its delicious “Christmas For All” lunch where the Hong Kong Women’s Choir will be entertaining diners with plenty of old favourites. Proceeds from the charity lunch go towards Bring Me A Book Hong Kong and Sisters of the Good Shepherd. Tables are allocated on a first come, first served basis, with some diners required to share tables in the spirit of family-style dining. Grappa’s Cellar, Jardine House, 1 Connaught Place, Central. Handel’s Messiah (15 DEC) New professional ensemble Cantabile presents a different concert experience of the renowned Handel’s Messiah this festive season. They will be accompanied by a baroque period ensemble to give audiences the chance to hear the piece performed by instruments used in Handel’s time, rather than a modern orchestra. The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Hong Kong Jockey Club Amphitheatre, 1 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai. |

Photo: DiscoverHK

Hong Kong Women’s Choir Grappa’s Family Christmas Lunch


DEC 16-JAN 17


SHOPPING Shopping Hong Kong Holiday Bazaars 2016 (1-2 DEC)

AIA The Great European Carnival

Shopping Hong Kong’s seasonal fair has been offering busy consumers a one-stop shop of quality products from around the world under one roof for 15 years. The goods on offer aim to bridge the gap between over-priced designer stores and local markets and present a fantastic opportunity to get your Christmas shopping sorted on the spot. An array of fashion, food and lifestyle products will be waiting to be snapped up. The Fringe Club, 2 Lower Albert Road, Central. Prestige Christmas Shopping Conrad Fairs (8 & 14 DEC) These much-loved shopping fairs are back. The series of one-day showcases for Hong Kong artists, designers and innovators will include thousands of gift ideas on display. Many of the exhibitors are small- to medium-sized and run by local and expat entrepreneurs who don’t stock their ranges in shops and department stores, meaning you can find something truly unique. Conrad Hong Kong, Grand Ballroom, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Admiralty. CONCERTS & SHOWS John Williams’ Star Wars (16-17 DEC) In this new take on pop culture icon Star Wars , the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra will celebrate the work of composer John Williams, winner of countless Grammys, Academy Awards and Emmys, and responsible for the trademark music associated with characters such as Darth Vader. Music will include the score of the latest film, The Force Awakens , with bonus pieces from Raiders of the Lost Ark and Superman . Concert Hall, Hong Kong Cultural Centre, 10 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui. Wicked (8 DEC – 22 JAN)

FAMILY FUN AIA The Great European Carnival (16 DEC – 12 FEB) The outdoor carnival has become a fixture on the Central Harbourfront each winter, with young and old flocking to enjoy the atmosphere. Organisers have upped the ante this season, with new rides and attractions to suit all ages. And forget sad sausages or other lacklustre carnival fare; the myriad of food options available includes a Bavarian beer garden. Central Harbourfront Event Space. KidsFest (5 JAN – 12 FEB) This festival devoted to providing world-class theatre to young people in Hong Kong brings characters and scenes from well-loved books to life. An annual highlight on many family calendars, this year the festival is featuring ten productions over five weeks, including Julia Donaldson’s The Snail and The Whale and Oliver Jeffers’ The Way Back Home . Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, 1 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai. Chinese New Year Night Parade and Fireworks (28-29 JAN) CNY celebrations for the Year of the Rooster will include the annual night parade, when lively floats, marching bands, acrobats, dragons, traditional dancers and Chinese lions take to the streets. The following night, the Lunar New Year fireworks will light up the skies over Victoria Harbour. Various locations.

The enchanting story of two unlikely friends – good witch Glinda and outcast Elphaba – has captivated more than 50 million theatregoers around the world. Now Wicked is coming to Hong Kong after successful runs on Broadway and the West End. The award-winning show features stunning costumes and songs by Academy

Award-winner Stephen Schwartz. The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Lyric Theatre, 1 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai.

Metallica (20 JAN)

Metallica are performing their first ever show in Hong Kong as part of their WorldWired Tour. The Tour follows the release of the band’s eleventh studio album, Hardwired , in November. The band, formed in 1981 by drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist and vocalist James Hetfield, is one of the most successful and influential in the world, having sold 110 million albums. AsiaWorld-Expo, Arena, Hong Kong International Airport, Lantau.

13 DEC 16-JAN 17 Get more updates and helpful content from Hong Kong’s ultimate lifestyle guide. Followus at ...

Don’t miss our weekly curation of the best events happening across town each week! Keep an eye on our calendar too for all the updates.

Online now...

SAVE 35% ON A YEAR’S SUBSCRIPTION! For only HK$188 (usually $288) you’ll get: • Six bi-monthly issues

delivered right to your door • Free access to the digital edition worth $230 To subscribe, simply visit


DEC 16-JAN 17

Whatwe’reup toon… INSTAGRAM

Follow us @expatlivinghk for all our behind-the-scenes antics!

Make sure you’re out and about with us!

Sweating it out in scenic locations.

A big thank you to everyone who completed our Expat Living Reader Survey and entered the prize draw in October. We’re happy to announce all of our winners, below. (Drum roll, please!) Winner of the grand prize, a luxury Thailand villa stay is … DIANE ANDERSON! Diane will enjoy a four-day, three-night stay in the striking riverside villa, 88 Place, in Chiang Mai, courtesy of Ministry of Villas . Our five winners of a case of gorgeous Eddie McDougall Umami Series Sangiovese 2008 red wine from The Flying Winemak er are:

• Manuela Guthrie • Morgan Mamudi • Veronica Lockyer

• Julie Naughton • Carla Watkins

Congratulations to everyone, and thanks for participating!

Our Reader Survey Results

A few of your favourite things • Your favourite cuisines are Thai, Japanese and Italian. • An overwhelming majority of you prefer a beach break when you travel, and your favourite destinations are Japan, Australia and Thailand. Travel is also one of your favourite sections of the magazine! • Your favourite forms of exercise are attending a gym or doing yoga or Pilates. How Expat Living works for you 65% of you like to keep your copies of Expat Living for future reference, and 61% of you say that they’ve purchased a product or service after reading about it in the magazine or online.

Here are some of the key headlines coming out of this year’s survey:

Who you are • 83% of our readers are female • 71% of you are married or engaged • 88% are between the ages of 26 and 55

Where you’re from • Europe: 38% • Asia: 25% • The Americas: 20%

• Australia and New Zealand: 16% • Africa and the Middle East: 2%

15 DEC 16-JAN 17

Pink Ladies In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month, over 80 “Pink Ladies” gathered for the Fifty Shades of Pink Ladies Long Lunch recently. It was a fun, fabulous and memorable afternoon, with lunch provided by Cielo at the Crowne Plaza, and styling tips from Eve Roth Lindsay, as well as a raffle and prizes for best dressed. Over $40,000 was raised for the HKBCF – almost double last year’s amount. (Photos: Mariella Candela Amitai)


DEC 16-JAN 17

AWA Anniversary Gala

US Consul General Kurt Tong and his wife Dr Mika Marumoto

AWA Anniversary Gala The American Women’s Association of Hong Kong (AWA) celebrated 60 years as a part of the Hong Kong community at the Aberdeen Marina Club, with the Honorable Mrs Anson Chan as the keynote speaker. The evening was an opportunity for members and spouses to recognise AWA’s six decades of helping the underprivileged in HK and learning more about the city and its surrounds. Approximately $600,000 was raised for the AWA Charitable Fund.

Mrs Anson Chan and AWA President Marcy LaRont

For Mums and Mums-to-be In October, the team from medical insurance advisor AD MediLink hosted a successful second edition of the Hong Kong Maternity Conference at the JW Marriott Hotel. Over 400 people attended – twice as many as in 2015 – to hear 20 experts cover key prenatal and postnatal topics, and to find out about the products and services of 26 exhibitors.

Going Green Green Common’s new concept store opened its doors at Alexandra House The Landmark in October, following the launch of its Wan Chai and Central stores in 2015. A pioneering plant- based one-stop concept store for casual dining and shopping, Green Common aims at a new way of eating that is good for ourselves, good for humanity and good for the planet.


DEC 16-JAN 17

Lunch for a Cause Conrad Macao, Cotai Central partnered with the International Ladies Club of Macao to host a Pink Inspired 2016 Charity Lunch, which saw over MOP 91,000 raised for breast cancer awareness as part of the Pink Revolution campaign. It’s the fifth year that Conrad Macao has supported this worthy cause. Australian TV personality Kerri-Anne Kennerley was a special guest at the event.

Sean Lee-Davies, Kerri-Anne Kennerley and Bede Barry

Harbour Swim A record 2,734 international and local swimmers competed in the New World Harbour Race 2016 in October, with Charles Peterson and Sharon Van Rouwendaal clinching the champion titles in the international category. Five members of Hong Kong’s Rio Olmypics team participated in the charity category, while 19 young swimmers from the New World Springboard finished the race with encouraging results.

19 DEC 16-JAN 17

Amazing Art The 9th edition of the popular Asia Contemporary Art Show proved a huge success during Hong Kong Art Week in September, attracting more than 11,000 collectors and art buyers. Keep an eye on these pages for news of the 10th edition, which will be held in March 2017, again at the five- star Conrad Hong Kong.

Happy Hounds Hong Kong Dog Rescue’s Game of Bones annual fundraising gala was a resounding success this year, successfully breaking the fundraising target of HK$1 million. A wonderful night was had by all and HKDR is already looking forward to next year’s gala. (Photos: Chantal Brands of Capture Life by Chantal, and Andy Kwan of S6 Productions.)


DEC 16-JAN 17


58 Parkview Living: We get some

insights from a resident


27 Christmas Décor: Ideas to get your home looking festive!

37 Home Showcase: Making the move from Stanley to France

56 On The Market: Properties for sale and lease


Much-loved homeware store TREE is expanding its presence, having opened a new store in Sha Tin. Located in popular retail destination HomeSquare, the new branch offers a wide range of stylish pieces, including solid eco-wood furniture, sofas and chic accessories. And the good news is that TREE’s commitment to using sustainable and reclaimed wood continues unabated. The Sha Tin store is the third in Hong Kong, after the Sai Kung store and the flagship in Horizon Plaza. Shop 101-102, HomeSquare, 138 Sha Tin Rural Committee Road, Sha Tin. 2841 8844 | BRANCHING OUT

Classic Carpets If you’re looking for a timeless addition to your home décor, check out the array of oriental rugs at Iqbal Carpets . The store’s new collection features Persian, Pakistani and Afghan rugs with vibrant colours and wonderful designs, and you can visit the team in Sai Kung or else have them come to you. They’re currently offering 50 percent off selected designs, and can also provide a professional oriental carpet and rug cleaning and repair service. Special offer: Expat Living readers who mention this article will receive a free carpet-cleaning service. Shop B, G/F, 21 Po Tung Road, Sai Kung. 9018 0897 |

Skiing is Believing The fall of French interest rates to a 100-year low has created great conditions for those considering a ski property purchase in the French Alps. Steve Thomas, Managing Director of Alpine Property Investments , a company specialising in the marketing of property for sale in the French and Swiss Alps, says mortgage rates in France are now below two percent. “Rates for a 20-year repayment mortgage with a loan to value (LTV) of 80 percent have dropped to 1.85 percent for the duration of the loan term,” he explains. Find out more at .


DEC 16-JAN 17


Grab Some Gifts It’s already easy enough to spend hours in the huge showroom of Oriental Home , browsing the extensive range of products. This Christmas, though, the store is offering customers an extra 10 percent discount on stock, along with a gift with any purchase for those who Like and Share its Facebook page. And the more you spend, the better your bonus gift: if you spend HK$10,000, for example, you’ll receive three porcelain balls; spend $50,000 and the gifts range from a document box to a wedding fruit basket or a porcelain jar. The promotion runs from 1 December to 8 January. Horizon Plaza, 20/F, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau. 3542 5336 |

Contemporary Chinese furniture company Forbidden City now has newly released collections in its Hong Kong showroom, featuring a marriage of Chinese traditions with a minimal modern aesthetic. The collections include cabinets, tables, chairs, beds, sofas, shelves, coffee table and trays. Forbidden City also offers a professional interior design service and can help with the fit-out of different types of properties, be they commercial or residential. Clients looking for interiors advice can take advantage of the in-house interior design team. Unit 1401A, 14/F, Lee Garden Five, 18 Hysan Avenue, Causeway Bay. 2556 8968 | SomethingOld, SomethingNew

Sale Season Give your home a fresh look for the festive end of the year with a beautiful rug from CarpetBuyer , which is kicking off its annual sale in December to give you the opportunity to pick something up at a fraction of the normal price. Discounts have been extended by up to 30 percent on items that are already 50 percent off. The store also carries modern and Persian rugs that would make great gifts for loved ones. Horizon Plaza, 26/F, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau. 2850 5508 |


DEC 16-JAN 17


New collection of hand- painted blue-and-white porcelain designs for


Christmas, including planters, umbrella stands, barrel stools, plates, bowls, vases and lamps, Altfield Gallery , 248-9 Prince’s Building, 2537 6370,

Just a few novel ideas to get your home looking festive!

Caballero pods owl ornament, $75, TREE , 2870 1582/83,

A box of three silver-plated hanging decorations (3D lantern, birdcage and Chinese junk), $170, Jing-a-ling , 3170 9249,

Reindeer nickel-plated wine bucket, available in two sizes, $779, Indigo Living , 2555 0540,

Canvas table-top Santas, starting from $65, TREE , 2870 1582/83,

Personalised reindeer booties by My 1st Years, Gifts Less Ordinary ,

Christmas doormat, $779, Indigo Living , 2555 0540,

27 DEC 16-JAN 17



We meet MIKA GREEN and learn how she made the most of an opportunity to design the interiors of her sister-in-law’s new Tai Tam home.


DEC 16-JAN 17

Mika ( right ) and Yuki


F or those beginning a completely new endeavour or itching for a career change, there’s no better place than Hong Kong: that magical combination of can-do spirit and the ease with which one can set up a new business makes the city a veritable magnet for enterprising souls. So when ex-banker Mika Green arrived six years ago from Tokyo with her New Zealand-born husband and family, she decided to ditch the financial markets and explore her more creative side. As a talented and Cordon Bleu-trained chef, it would have been logical to concentrate on food and cooking, but she opted instead for her other great passion – interior design. “My Japanese father was horrified when I told him I was working as an interior designer,” smiles Mika. As a Michelin-starred French chef, pre-eminent in the Tokyo food scene since the 1960s, he has always been Mika’s inspiration. “He believes that food is art, and you can see it in every dish he creates. He loves minimalist design, and I grew up admiring his choice of style in everything from cooking to table setting; it was natural that I’d become a minimalist myself!” The restaurant is still located at the base of the Tokyo Green building, which was designed by Philippe Starck two decades ago. “Although it’s now 20 years old,” says Mika, “the interior hasn’t aged at all; it still feels thoroughly contemporary. My father felt that I just couldn’t compete with this kind of designer!”

Still, even Philippe Starck had to start somewhere, and Mika’s natural flair for interiors meant she landed a couple of new interiors projects almost immediately – and a coveted role as home designer for established Hong Kong furniture company, The Red Cabinet. “I was originally a client of theirs, and I adored their pieces, especially the delicate craftsmanship,” says Mika. “However, while they were clearly expert at sourcing one-of-a-kind works and creating their own traditional designs, I felt there was a great opportunity to build beautiful modern furniture too. For me, working as an interior designer has never been about the money – it’s about the whole experience of making a space exquisite. There are so many gorgeous houses, it’s a waste if they don’t fulfil their potential!” Now Mika has transformed sister-in-law Yuki’s new place in Tai Tam, an attractive Spanish-style townhouse. Yuki is married to Michael, the brother of Mika’s husband Jonathan, and they moved to Hong Kong two years after Mika and Jonathan. “We both met our husbands in Tokyo, and we all worked in finance,” explains Mika. “Our husbands are very close, and there was an immediate connection between Yuki and myself: we’re good friends.” As a result, they spend a lot of time together as a family. Yet Mika didn’t initially suggest that she should design their

29 DEC 16-JAN 17

new house. “I thought it might be awkward, in case they didn’t like my style and felt they couldn’t say no! But Yuki kept asking questions, and in the end we mutually agreed I should do it.” The result is a light, bright and coolly Zen space that overlooks the peaceful blue expanse of the South China Sea. Standout rooms include the family’s living area on the first floor: a generous sitting room that opens out onto an attractive patio with an enormous outdoor sofa, and a smart zone designed for dining. The eye is immediately drawn to the organic shapes in the dining room: a trio of spherical


DEC 16-JAN 17


copper and glass hanging lights above the glass table, two beautifully sensuous standard lamps sourced from Italian company Artemide, which glow softly with white light, and the convex speaker. Hanging above the modern side cabinet is a triptych photograph of one of New Zealand’s spectacular mountain ranges. In fact, there are photographs or paintings of magnificent Kiwi scenes throughout the house – Michael is an avid collector, and a passionate advocate of natural light. “My husband didn’t want any curtains or blinds in the living area, so we could banish any dark or dreary corners, and let the luminous quality of the sky and sea inside as much as possible,” says Yuki. The sitting area is definitely full of light – partly because there are no curtains, but also because Mika has created a gorgeous homage to minimalism and clutter-free living. Blue-hued white walls, a modernist white sofa and glossy white accessories mean the large rug in shades of pink and orange really “pops” – and, cleverly, the sofa cushions are a similar pattern, but in a different colourway to add interest. Mika designed the white TV cabinet herself; all the AV equipment is neatly hidden away, but can be operated from a single remote. So how does one keep a sitting room so elegantly minimalist, with young children around? “The kids know that when Auntie Mika is here, there is no clutter!” smiles Mika. “But as long as it’s tidied up at the end of the day, it’s OK!” Mika sought the children’s opinions when decorating their rooms, but has managed not to compromise on style: in fact, she has achieved the impossible by creating possibly the only sophisticated soccer-themed bedroom

31 DEC 16-JAN 17

in existence! It’s true that framed jerseys from Messi and Ronaldinho hang on the wall, but by an inspired choice of cobalt blue paint, gorgeously tailored blinds and sumptuous, layered bedding, somehow they complement the design scheme to produce an overall boyish but stylish effect for eight-year-old Ayrton. The oatmeal and blue rug, and all the monogrammed bed linen were shipped from Pottery Barn Kids, Mika’s go-to supplier. “So far, I’ve found it impossible to find good linens in Hong Kong – there just isn’t the choice of material or designs, or the overall quality,” she muses. “Pottery Barn has the largest and most beautiful range of linens and furniture for kids, and it’s so easy to ship to Hong Kong. The furniture came from the US, but all the linens were shipped from their warehouse in China!” There is more from Pottery Barn Kids in six-year- old Kahala’s dreamy room. The bed is princess- style, with a net canopy and more of that luxurious monogrammed bed linen. Another stunning photograph from New Zealand – this time of a spreading pohutukawa tree on a beach, with a bluer than blue Antipodean sky, is hung above the white desk. “Kahala’s not a very girly girl; in fact, she probably would have opted for a soccer bedroom herself!” laughs Mika. “But she chose the aqua blue colourway, and she loves the canopy. It’s quite a sophisticated room for a little girl, but Yuki and I agreed the children needed rooms that would grow with them.” Let’s hope little Ayrton continues to feel as passionately about football as he does about his new enthusiasm, go-kart racing. “He tried it for the first time three weeks ago, and of course he is hooked,” sighs Yuki. “Michael’s big hobby is car racing, and he goes to Japan every other month to compete in eight- or nine-hour endurance races; he’s part of a team, and they keep their car in Tokyo. It’s not as fast as Formula One, but it’s still fast – and dangerous! But it’s Michael’s passion – Ayrton is even named after Ayrton Senna! And he claims you must think and move at the same time when racing, so it teaches important life skills.” Yuki and Mika are both bringing up their children to be bilingual, but it’s an uphill struggle. “I speak to them in Japanese, and they reply in English,” laughs Yuki. “They’ve spent much more time in New Zealand than in Japan, but our outlook as a family is naturally international. Growing up, I went to school and university in the US, and of course my husband has spent many years in Japan.” Perhaps the surprising thing about the house décor, then, is that there is no overt Japanese


DEC 16-JAN 17


influence. “I don’t see myself as typically Japanese, but I like simple designs, which must be from my Japanese origin,” explains Yuki. “I’ve never been drawn towards Japanese knick-knacks like traditional dolls, or ceramics.” “The children both attended the Japanese kindergarten in Happy Valley when we arrived in Hong Kong – more for the cultural experience than to learn the language – but they’re now at the Hong Kong International School, and we spend most holidays at our house in Queenstown,” she explains. “They love the wide-open spaces, the skiing, and the beaches in New Zealand. I do miss Japan, but it’s undeniably easy to live in Hong Kong, even if the pollution is tough to handle. But I do think we’ll be here for a while.”

Mika & Yuki’s Recommendations SHOPPING The Red Cabinet, 11/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau Zara Home Harbour City, 3-27 Canton Road, Tsim Sha Tsui Ralph Lauren Shop G1-3, Landmark Prince’s, Central EATING 298 Nikuya Room, 2/F, Pearl Oriental House, 60 Stanley Street, Central 3568 9298 Sanka Teppenyaki 11 Stanley Street, Central 3460 2285 Sushi Rozan The Oakhill, 18 Wood Road, Wan Chai 2574 1333 NOM Winly Building, 1-5 Elgin Street, Central 2540 7988

33 DEC 16-JAN 17


Sleep There’s more to sleeping poorly than just bags under our eyes; we’re constantly being told in the media and elsewhere that getting eight hours is crucial for ourwellbeing. TIGHT ROCHELLE LE PINE, from bedroom furni ture and accessories store Okooko , gives us some facts about this important pastime, and suggests some solutions to doing it well. We’re all aware of the effects of poor sleep, and for most of us it happens all too often. And while a lot is still unknown about exactly what goes on during sleep, the fact remains that it’s vital for a fit and healthy lifestyle. So what really happens during sleep? As you sleep, your conscious mind shuts off, but your body stays awake, actively working on your wellbeing. Sleep is not downtime, but rather an active and complex part of daily life. There are at least five stages of sleep, and each stage is essential for rest and hormonal release that help build muscle and strengthen the immune system. Sleep is an active process whereby even healthy sleepers can change their physical posture up to 70 times per night. It’s therefore essential that your bed supports healthy posture and does not restrict movement. Recharge, rehydrate and regulate While you sleep, extraordinary things go on to help you renew your body. During dream sleep, the biological processes that maintain your body temperature temporarily shut down, giving nature a chance to re-stoke your furnaces. And during well- supported sleep, your spinal muscles will relax completely. Your body then rehydrates and decompresses the spinal discs, leaving them revitalised. Significant surges in hormones take place to regulate our metabolism and other bodily functions,

including growth and enzyme production. Levels of serotonin, which modulates mood, emotion and appetite, are also affected. A fall in blood pressure and heart rate during quiet sleep and dramatic swings in these rates during dream sleep are thought to be important in keeping daytime blood pressure normal. Healthy sleep Many beds and bedding materials available today are produced using toxic chemical processes. Mattresses at Okooko utilise natural materials that allow your b od y t o b r e a t h e and maintain an even temperature throughout the night, and they’re free of toxins and allergens. And the Okooko Sleep System combines your personal preferences with scientific knowledge in a mattress design that is customised to suit your individual needs, ensuring a healthy and comfortable night’s sleep. By the time we retire, we will have spent around 20 years asleep. It’s a huge part of our lives, so we need to make sure we give it the attention it deserves.

2870 1132 |

35 DEC 16-JAN 17


Village to Village

Though the Hong Kong stint of NICKY ROBERTS and her family has drawn to a close through an audacious move to the French countryside, they maintain a beloved base in Stanley.


“I know some people think we’re bonkers, but we think France is the solution: a whole new life for us!”

37 DEC 16-JAN 17

I t’s not an inconsiderable commute from Stanley Village to Gascony, but for financial search consultant Simon Roberts, a fortnightly flight from Hong Kong to France is a small price to pay for a much better quality of life. So when the house of his dreams came up in a beautiful old bastide (fortified town) two years ago, Simon signed the paperwork and started planning a completely new way of life alongside Nicky, his energetic and enterprising wife. The result? Nicky and eight-year-old Eloise upped sticks this summer and moved lock, stock and barrel into a partly-renovated farmhouse in the Gers, and Simon is currently spending a fair amount of his time on aeroplanes! It seems like a mammoth undertaking, but the more you learn about Simon and Nicky, the more logical their decision becomes. They moved to Hong Kong from London seven years ago, so Simon could more precisely target candidates in Asia for his financial clients. Nicky’s always dreamed of having a beautiful old rectory in the countryside, but Simon – who is half-Australian and adamant he doesn’t want to “grow old in the cold” – wasn’t keen on a move back to rural England. “We thought, where can we go that’s not too far from the UK but is several degrees warmer, that will give us

the lifestyle and property we want, but is accessible enough for us to regularly pop over to London?” explains Nicky. “We started looking in the Dordogne, but ended up instead in the Gers, a properly rural area with exceptionally friendly people. It’s part of what is sometimes called Gascony, with a rich, earthy soil, and delicious produce like confit de canard , foie gras, truffles and Armagnac. Although it’s not near the sea, it’s only a couple of hours to the Pyrenees, and we can drive to Barcelona if we want! We’ve got the whole of Europe at our feet, and yet we can be at Gatwick or Heathrow in an hour and twenty minutes.” “I know some people think we’re bonkers,” she continues, laughing. “We own a very nice little house in the London suburb of Barnes, and we could have quite easily moved back there, or gone slightly further out, towards Wimbledon. But Simon wanted to feel as if he was moving forwards, not backwards, and we think France is the solution: a whole new life for us!” After seven years in Hong Kong, the couple had begun to long for a different sort of existence. “I’ve loved Hong Kong life,” says Nicky. “I’ve adored living in the expat ‘bubble’ where you go to the supermarket or the doctor’s surgery and


DEC 16-JAN 17


39 DEC 16-JAN 17


DEC 16-JAN 17


see someone you know – it’s like being part of one big family. Our friends are all like-minded people who belong to the same clubs, and have children of similar age, who play with the same toys; it’s a lovely, social, fortunate life. But it’s not the real world, and I wanted Eloise to live in a place where there are completely different types of people at different stages in their life, living in close proximity. There are 390 people in Lavardens, our village, and I know there are some lovely people there. I had lunch with the man who has been looking after our house, and I asked him if there was a cinema nearby. He said, just because we live in the country doesn’t mean we’re totally uncivilised! There’s a six-screen cinema just 20 minutes from the house!” “I thought the village was a sleepy place where nobody lived,” continues Nicky, “because the shutters were always closed; but it turns out there’s a music school on the doorstep, and 20 minutes away, a gymnastics and dance school. Actually, what I’m really looking forward to is meeting people and going to their homes, or inviting them back to ours. We haven’t done much of that in Hong Kong, because we were restricted by space, and there’s a big going-out culture. We’ve loved that too, but I’m looking forward to entertaining friends, as we did in London. And also to having my stepsons Jack and Jasper to stay, with their friends from university.” It’s also a challenging change for little Eloise, who is enrolled at a tiny local village school of fifteen children; rather different to the large academy she attended in Hong Kong. But Nicky is sure the change will be very grounding. “It will bring her down to earth. Part of me thought: am I crazy to give up this big international school we spent two and a half years on the waiting list to get into, for, basically, one classroom in the French countryside? But the school cooks fresh food every day, and trying it is part of the children’s education. Eloise will become fluent in French, will have beautiful curly handwriting, and excellent manners. She’ll have grass under her feet,

and she can run out of the front door chasing insects, without anyone worrying about her. At home we’ll eat food that’s grown within a five-mile radius, we’ll go to the market; we’ll experience all the good things in life. We might have some disasters along the way and I am sure there will be tears: it’s a brave move, no doubt. But we feel the time is right for us as a family”. For now, their Hong Kong base is still the charming apartment on Stanley Mound Road, which Simon and Nicky have decorated – naturally – in French country style. Nicky is quick to attribute the decorating scheme to her dapper husband: “When I first met Simon he had just bought and renovated the most beautiful Georgian house in Bath, and I was totally blown away by his amazing taste: fabulous paint colours and wallpapers; beautiful antiques he’d bought or inherited from his father; paintings he’d bid for at auction; furniture he’d personally restored. He studied law and has had a successful career in the city, but definitely has an arty bent and background. Seeing the house made me think, there aren’t many men who could do this on their own!” Simon has certainly collected an interesting mixture of antique and contemporary pieces, but the décor in the Hong Kong flat – like the proposed renovation in France – is a definite collaboration. “We don’t clash at all, our taste is the same,” smiles Nicky. The large, striking paintings above the bed and the desk in the sitting room are by British artist Nick Jones, bought from a London gallery, but sit alongside more traditional watercolours by a Scottish artist called Ethel Walker, a Vietnamese painting by Hong Viet Dung from the Apricot gallery in Hanoi, and countless other sketches or engravings. “All the paintings have been deliberately framed in a different style, to add to the eclectic feel of the room – there are so many pieces from different cultures and periods put together,” explains Nicky. The feel of the flat is predominantly French, but the furniture is actually a mix of antique pieces from the UK – the

brass beds in the spare room were from a shop in Hazlemere, the dining table from The General Trading Company, and the imposing desk an heirloom from Simon’s father – and locally sourced pieces, which have been expertly blended. In the sitting room there’s an ornately decorated red and gold Chinese cabinet from Zhuhai, but Simon and Nicky have grouped a collection of shabby chic French-style items on top. The sofas were originally bought in Barnes, but Nicky had them re-covered by a “a lady in the lanes”! The dark bedside cabinets were bought in Hong Kong, but share the bedroom with a huge mahogany chest of drawers, which is British-made. Of course, there are lots of French items in the flat too – but, ironically, Nicky sourced most of them from shops in the UK. “The imposing mirror in the dining room is French, but came from an antique shop in Tetbury, along with the distressed console. They’re going back to their homeland!” she laughs. Nicky most definitely has her own “eye”, and has successfully managed a number of property renovations since she’s been in Hong Kong – including one in Robinson Road, one in Australia,

41 DEC 16-JAN 17

Made with FlippingBook Online newsletter