Classy interiors blend cultures and display art

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 July, 2006, 12:00am

LANDLORDS AND operators are pulling out all the stops to attract tenants to their serviced apartments.

Having offered reasonable pricing, flexible lease terms and quality service, they are now focused on creating unique interiors. These can range from simple to opulent, western to Oriental, contemporary to chic.

At Central 88, a luxury serviced apartment property in core Central, a generous display of Chinese decor and furnishings is tastefully blended with a contemporary design. The idea was to create a unique living environment not found in other serviced apartments, said Gary Cheung, business development and operations manager of

Central 88.

'We have put in place a number of Chinese art and antique pieces - paintings, silk ornaments and wood sculpture - in the lobby, corridors and lifts and in every apartment,' she said.

Adorning the reception lobby is an imperial yellow robe once worn by a Qing dynasty emperor. Ms Cheung said that all the art and antiques were contributed by the Wincome Group.

'These artworks have given the interiors a Chinese flavour. We are giving our tenants something special that they can appreciate, which other market players are unable to offer,' she said.

'In fact, the art pieces are so special that from time to time we receive inquiries from tenants showing interest in buying [them]. But these are part of the private collection of the Wincome Group and are not for sale.'

Ms Cheung said most of the Central 88 occupants were expatriates, and many already had a strong interest in Chinese art and culture, or soon started to develop an interest in their new home-from-home.

Shama is an upmarket operator that runs five serviced apartment properties on Hong Kong Island. It has engaged the services of reputed designers for all of its interior decor and furnishings.

Chief executive Elaine Young said the theme running through all its properties was 'contemporary, luxury and chic'.

The man behind the stylish but understated Shama Soho in Central is French designer Christian Liaigre, who has worked on homes belonging to Calvin Klein and Karl Lagerfeld.

Shama has also worked with designer Dillon Garris on two properties laid out in European style with Oriental accents.

Shama Midlevels in Central, which opened in 2005, is a fine example of how to make the most of small spaces as a typical apartment is 470 square feet.

Ms Young said the units were comfortable and intimate, with custom-built furniture offering storage and natural fabrics in neutral, muted hues.

She said every Shama boutique apartment incorporated style, quality and comfort. Today's tenants were much more sophisticated than they were 10 years ago, and Shama had enhanced services that included a complimentary in-house DVD library and even PlayStation devices that could be borrowed.

Shama sources everything in-house from furniture makers, fabric suppliers, bathroom fittings and leathers to linen and original artworks.

'Most of our tenants are expatriates and about 80 per cent are corporate tenants, including professionals and IT people. They have good taste and like to live in apartments that reflect their lifestyle,' she said.

Minimalist decor and soft hues set the tone at Kapok Apartments, a serviced apartment property in Wan Chai.

'We believe our guests, about half of whom are expatriates, like this simple decor for the apartments,' said Sdever Li, senior manager of residential leasing, Savills (Hong Kong), Kapok's marketing agent.

According to Jane Garnett, director of residential services with property consultant CB Richard Ellis, interior decor and furnishings were secondary considerations for tenants leasing serviced apartments, but nevertheless these should reflect quality and good taste.

'In our experience the actual decor isn't too important - so long as it's of a high standard and quality. Tenants aren't particularly concerned whether the apartment has got western overtones or Oriental accents,' she said.

'In general, tenants are more concerned about size, layout, quality and location. Many of the newer developments are going with a modern theme, meaning that everything is co-ordinated and streamlined with slim devices like plasma TVs and aesthetic appeal.'