Reflecting your sense of style
ONE of the most routine questions asked of Henry Mok, usually by Chinese and Middle-Eastern clients, is whether his speciality mirrors will bring them luck.
'I tell them I don't really know about these things. However, I can tell them about space, light and function,' he says.
As the importer of one of Europe's most avant-garde ranges of mirrors and glass furniture, Mok has learned all there is to know about how reflective sheets of glass can enlarge a room, enhance a good view and bring warmth to a cold or bland environment.
Mok, whose background is in the lighting retail business, set up shop in Ocean Terminal a few months ago to sell the range of crystal mirrors and 'alternative' glassware from Schoninger, a 100-year-old German glassmaker. Considered one of Germany's top makes, the brand's strength lies in its decorative emphasis.
'Mirrors have always been considered as something functional and practical, for everyday use. But now they are being regarded as a decorative or creative accessory for the home,' he says.
A set of mirror and mirrored console near the doorway or in the hall is popular in many homes, and some designers like to use mirrors at strategic corners to give the illusion of space.
'If there is only one good view from an apartment, it can be reflected and doubled and brightness can be increased.' Unusual shapes are the brand's biggest selling point. Standard rectangular or round mirrors have been abandoned in favour of teardrop or fan shapes and abstract cuts.
Coloured glass is used to embellish mirrors. For example, a large pear-shaped piece has a fine rim of cobalt-blue glass around the edges and comes with a matching console. Other pieces feature strips of copper, bronze and dull gold, and a fun, textured silver finish which looks like rippled lame.
Interior decorators say partially-mirrored walls, or even separate, free-standing pieces, are useful in Hong Kong homes.
'People really love using mirrors here as flats are so small,' says interior designer Bernadette Borromeo. 'So far, the ones we have seen are not as sophisticated, although we do use some pieces with a peach tint to give a better reflection and that will enhance and enlarge, compared to the usual blue or white tones.' Borromeo believes the most attractive mirrors for home design are those with 'antique' finishings or marbled touches.
'And if there is something unusual available, that is even better,' she says.
Mok says a favourite among Hong Kong customers is a model with gilt-painted wood trim and a strong baroque feel or a jazzier versions that comes with designer-lighting.
'The company makes 1,000 styles of mirrors, so there is something for every taste,' he says.
Many furniture stores and interior designers carry mirrors, often with console tables, which can factor in a customer's decor scheme.
Altfield Galleries stocks a popular range of gilded pieces with ornamental embellishments that are modelled on antiques and made in China. The gallery's interiors specialist, Nelly Daujat, says they are mainly decorative.
'Nobody has come to me to ask about using mirrors to make a room appear bigger, but it's a nice idea,' she says.
'I meet many interior designers who like to use decorative mirrors as part of the decor for a home, but they would really have to be bigger to make a difference in how large the apartment looks,' she says.
American architect David Marshall was commissioned by Schoninger to design a range of limited-edition mirrors, and chose the sun as his motif. The result is the Golden Peacock Fan, a fan-shaped mirror underlaid with gold leaf.
Similar craftsmanship has been used on other designs. One thousand copies of each model are made for worldwide distribution. There are also pieces in the collection with leaf decoration in green frosted-glass, and a stylised crane draped over a mirror with a curved top. Decorative touches featuring a 'fossil' effect and influences from Egyptian and Roman architecture are also used.
Glass furniture has also found a niche in the territory and is used by some clients to mount video-cassette recorders and televisions or as free-standing bars. These have a strong, clean look that complement homes with contemporary, or even cutting-edge, furniture.