Meet Boris the Chair
Passing the newly-opened BoConcept – “Urban Danish Design since 1952” – on Hollywood Road, I was struck by how dramatic and well, big, the furniture was. Their catalogue is full of huge open plan European-style loft spaces, which show the striking Viking designs at their best. But does this type of thing work in Hong Kong?
The clientele on a busy Saturday afternoon consisted of several admiring tourists, like me, a couple of overseas Chinese families looking to decorate their entire apartment and a designer or two. With prices soaring to HK$30,000 for a classically Danish armchair, depending on the cover, it was out of my league. Back to that other Scandinavian staple, Ikea.
Time for a quick call to interior designer Di White, of contemporary designers AND Furniture. What’s hot right now in interior design?
Well, retro has been and gone: it has reached saturation point, she says. Hitting the right price points is the challenge for mid-market furniture. But good design is always popular here. European companies have been having a tough time recently, hence they’re eyeing Hong Kong. But don’t these big Danish pieces overcrowd small Hong Kong flats?
Big makes small look bigger
Actually, big furniture done well can look stunning, she says. “You’d think it wouldn’t work, but then again, oversized can look great. One big piece makes a small flat look less crowded. A huge sofa and a flat screen TV - you don’t need a coffee table – can look very good.”
Any other tips for small flats? Counterintuitively, painting the floor of a small place black can add depth and make it look bigger, especially with a low ceiling, she says. “Lots of people go lighter with the flooring to make a small flat look larger, but that’s not always the best thing to do.” Ugly windows can be disguised with sheer curtains. The addition of a light behind a sheer curtain in a small window gives the impression that it’s much bigger. And don’t forget the walls – minimum clutter to give the illusion of more space.
Versace rules in China
So that’s the Hong Kong market. What’s happening with interior design in China? “You have to think about the China market entirely differently. They’re not into design as much as people are here.” The high end is still very label driven, but she thinks it’s changing. But on a recent trip to trade fairs in Dongguan and Guangzhou she spotted booths offering functional furniture pitched next to Versace. People were queuing up for champagne at the ostentatious Italian brand’s stand, right next to factories producing utilitarian stuff.
“It was quite a contrast,” she laughs, adding that the over-the-top brightly coloured Italian interiors were very popular. “One piece looks great in a boutique hotel lobby, but it doesn’t work all together in one flat.” That particular trend could explain the last few show flats I’ve seen: metallic glitz and glam, with more than a hint of Dubai hotel. White thinks it’s hard to define interior design trends in China at the moment - it’s a challenge to cater to so many different tastes and influences.
Private jet poker table
So what’s the wackiest thing she’s been asked to do lately? “A poker table for a private jet.” Actually, that’s not unusual, she adds. And the new “in’ material? “Pre-rusted steel, from Finland.” And her favourite piece? It has to be Boris. For those of you who remember The Who, Boris was inspired by a Who track, Boris the Spider.
As chairs go, Boris has a lot of personality and looks exactly like a spider. Wherever he goes he’s the centre of attention, says White. It’s good to see furniture can be fun. A Boris would set you back HK$68,000 retail, but you’d have the satisfaction of knowing that so far, there are only two in existence.