Text Charmaine Chan / Pictures John Butlin / Styling David Roden
Blogs sometimes spawn their own opportunities. Just ask interior designer Joanne Pereira, whose shop, Eclectic Cool, grew out of a design blog she started only 18 months ago.
Writing about design spurred the Australian's creativity, so she began a test website to feature her home products. Soon after, this was upgraded to a full online store selling other brands as well and two weeks ago she opened the doors to her studio-cum-store in Ap Lei Chau, where customers can examine and buy items previously displayed only on her internet "shelves".
Pereira's hands may be full nurturing her business and blogging, but she is also a mother of two girls and a boy aged eight to 14.
"My new thing is not to do any work at home," she says, pointing to a corner of her dining area demarcated by a studded linen room divider (see Tried + tested). Behind it is a stylish Scandinavianstyle glass desk where many hours have been spent building her new career.
Pereira, a Sydneysider, was a lecturer before moving five years ago to Hong Kong with her husband, Alan Corr, and their children. Although the family had never lived beyond the fifth level before, they have taken a liking to their 2,000 sq ft, four-bedroom, rented Mid-Levels apartment on the 41st floor. It is their third home in Hong Kong, which explains why the custom-made cabinets in the living area are in sections that can, if necessary, be transported easily.
Shifting (and downsizing) has allowed Pereira to keep only special pieces of furniture, some of which, mostly chairs, have followed her into different homes since her 20s. A cute Verner Panton Cone chair at the entrance is a keeper, as are her Cassina Cab dining chairs, designed in the 1960s.
"These are 10 years old but get better with age," she says.
Pereira is also partial to pieces the couple bought for their previous home, on The Peak.
That includes a carpet specially dyed by Tai Ping Carpets and the his-and-hers Minotti sofas (her husband uses the longer one). "To me a sofa is more important than a car," she says. "Every time you sit on it you love sitting on it."
Unfortunately, because of the dearth of blank walls in the flat, the couple's favourite artworks have had to find homes elsewhere. "All the art you see here are the small pieces," she says. That includes several Aboriginal paintings that were acquired in Hong Kong, because they reminded her of home.
Although one might expect the apartment to be filled with Eclectic Cool products, they play only supporting roles, accentuating the overall design rather than hogging the limelight. Cheerful Emma Bridgewater polka-dot bowls are striking on a Fritz Hansen granite dining table that Pereira couldn't persuade the delivery men to lug into the flat. They apparently took "door to door" literally.
And there are two footstools in the living room, one a glass, bottle-green Henry Dean number, the other upholstered in a silver vintage fabric.
More of Pereira's self-designed products, including jewellery, can be found in the master bedroom, which has its own scenic sun room, that's used as a dressing area, and an en-suite bathroom.
Unfortunately, the landlord's attempt at grooviness here was near disastrous. In addition to white wall tiles decorated with blue hyperactive squiggles, which Pereira cleverly downplays with stripy Missoni towels, there were leopard-print basins with gold taps on a black countertop. These she had to replace with standard fixtures.
"It was horrifying," Pereira says. "I said to Alan, 'This is a deal breaker, first thing in the morning.'" Having tempered the bad taste, she and her family have grown fond of the flat, because of the views and its convenient location. "If the decor was more white and simple," Pereira says, "and if I had an extra room and outdoor space, this would be perfect."
Living area (top) The Minotti King sofas were bought years ago from Andante (G/F, Ruttonjee Centre, 11 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2537 9688). The custom-made silk carpet (HK$65,000) was from Tai Ping Carpets (Prince's Building, Central, tel: 2522 7138). The Neutra coffee table, by Fiam Italia, was bought at Space in Sydney, Australia (www.spacefurniture.com.au) years ago. The Arco floor lamp, bought in Australia, is available at Flos (44 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2801 7608) for HK$19,800. The red abstract painting, by Matthew Johnson, came from Tim Olsen Gallery in Sydney (www.timolsengallery.com). In front of the painting is an Artemide floor lamp (HK$3,500) from Lane Crawford (various locations; www.lanecrawford.com). The Poliform television console was bought years ago from VIA (1/F, 3 Wing Fung Street, Wan Chai, tel: 3102 3189). The unit in front of the windows was bought during a sale at Margaret Muir (9/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2814 7413). The Henry Dean green glass stool (HK$6,160) and silver pouffe (HK$2,600) are sold by Eclectic Cool (Studio 8, 21/F, Harbour Industrial Centre, 10 Lee Hing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 5699 6882; www.eclecticcool.com). The Missino pouffe came from Lane Crawford years ago and the snakeskin-effect ceramic stool cost HK$4,000 at Altfield (11/F, 9 Queen's Road Central, tel: 2524 4867). The Aboriginal painting above the TV is by an artist from the Warlukurlangu community and came from Southern Exchange (www.southern-art-exchange.com). On the work desk, made by Eclectic Cool for HK$10,000, is an Artemide lamp, which cost HK$4,000 at Lane Crawford.
Reading corner Acquired by Joanne Pereira when she was in her 20s, the red chair and footstool are by Australian designer Gordon Andrews and were reupholstered in Australia with Kvadrat Hallingdal fabric. The lantern (HK$1,000) on top of it was from Indigo Living (18/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2552 3500). The Artemide floor lamp (HK$10,000) came from Lane Crawford.
Entrance The Verner Panton Cone chair was bought by Pereira when she was 20 years old. The painting, by George Raftopoulos, was acquired from Tim Olsen Gallery. The floor lamp was bought years ago from TREE (various locations; www.tree.com.hk). The chandelier (HK$6,500) came from Lane Crawford. The mirror was custom made in Australia years ago. The Chinese console was bought years ago from an antiques store in Zhuhai. The Armadillo Dandelion rug (HK$4,000) came from Eclectic Cool.
Dining area The Fritz Hansen granite dining table (HK$200,000, with extension), which Pereira shipped from Denmark, is available at Manks (3/F, The Factory, 1 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang, tel: 2522 2115). The Tom Dixon pendant lamp (HK$4,500) came from Ovo Home (16 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2526 7226). The carpet was bought years ago, as were the Cassina Cab chairs, which are available for HK$15,000 each at VIA. Propping up another Aboriginal painting, also from Southern Exchange, is an 18th-century French farmhouse walnut table received as a wedding gift. The Gubi Bestlite BL1 table lamp (HK$6,700) came from Eclectic Cool, as did the Emma Bridgewater pasta bowls (HK$250 each) and linen napkins (HK$120 each). The coloured glasses cost HK$300 each at Sidewalk (4 Gough Street, Central, tel: 2850 7199).
Master bedroom The armchair and ottoman (HK$12,000 in total) came from Eclectic Cool. The bed and bedhead (HK$65,000 for both) were from Dormirest (10/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 3741 1828). The Artemide bedside lights (HK$5,000 each) came from Lane Crawford. The paintings above the bed, by Raftopoulos, came from Tim Olsen Gallery. The cushions on the bed were from Lane Crawford. In the sun room, the Poliform drawers were bought years ago from VIA. On it are a mirror (HK$4,500) from Inside (Prince's Building, tel: 2537 6298), a two-tier velvet bracelet stand custom made for Eclectic Cool, and acrylic containers, used to hold jewellery, from Muji (various locations; www.muji.com.hk). In front of the drawers is a rug bought years ago in Sydney.
Master bedroom detail The Paul Smith Love canvas (HK$7,000) came from Lane Crawford. The Beosound 8 sound system (about HK$5,000) came from Bang & Olufsen (Pacific Place, Admiralty, tel: 2918 0007).
Piano corner The rug (HK$7,000) beneath the piano was from CarpetBuyer (17/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2850 5508). The white cabinets were made for about HK$65,000 by All-In Decorator (283 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2877 2303). The Gubi Stokke chair (HK$14,000) is available at Eclectic Cool.
Tried + tested: divide and rule
Joanne Pereira designed the room divider to create a discrete work space. It also helps take her mind off work during meal times by separating the space from the dining area. "If you're having dinner and you have your books out, it's hard to switch off," she says. The screen, priced at HK$7,500, is upholstered in Libeco linen and consists of three 185cm by 50cm panels, although these can be made to other dimensions.