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Off the wall: small wonders

Stephen Lacey

 

Go to your filing cabinet, open it and file this story under "B" for "Bizarre". Unless, that is, you think it's perfectly normal to collect and play with models of Hong Kong tenement buildings. In which case, maybe you need to get out more.

The Hong Kong Housing Estate Collection has been created to stir memories of tong lau - the tenements that spread across the urban landscape from the late 19th century until the 1960s. The models are cobbled together from plastic and paper and are on a scale of 1:18, measuring 290mm x 175mm x 135mm.

There are seven parts to collect, starting with the rooms themselves (top and above right), which you can furnish with bunk beds, wardrobes, a television and a washing line (complete with tiny clothes). The attention to detail is a hoot - there's an old-style telephone perched on a phone book and minuscule bottles of soy sauce. If there was a way to shrink yourself to the size of a Barbie (or Ken), you could probably live quite happily in one of these Lilliputian dwellings.

The tiny tenements cost HK$888 a set and are available from UML Galleria (6/F, Zhongcai Centre, 131 Queen's Road Central, tel: 2885 7232).

 

Light fantastic Design types like to make big statements. But even we were surprised by the hubris in this little gem from Ernesto Gismondi, founder of Italian lighting company Artemide: "When you see them, you can't help feeling moved; when you understand them, you are full of wonder seeing a future we thought unreachable and couldn't imagine this beautiful."

Could he be talking about angels? Newborn babies? Or something the Hadron Collider has turned up, perhaps? No. He's talking about lights.

OK, we admit they are pretty darn special lights. Japanese designer Issey Miyake has taken time out from his clothing and perfume empire to create the IN-EI collection of freestanding, table and pendant lamps (right).

What's so special about them? Well, they tick all the eco boxes for starters, being manufactured from 100 per cent recycled material. They also use LED technology.

But what's really special is their jaw-dropping form. From a two-dimensional shape - they can be stored flat when not in use - the lamps unfold like origami to present an artistic three-dimensional play of light and shade, without the need for an internal frame.

These lamps are by a designer at the peak of his powers. They might not enable you to see the unreachable future, but they will certainly make your apartment look very, very swish.

Prices have not yet been confirmed, but the IN-EI collection will soon be available from Artemide (1/F, Ruttonjee Centre, 11 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2523 0333).

 

Floating ideas I don't know about you, but I reckon there's something a tad 1980s Memphis Group about the new sofa (below) by Egyptian-born designer Karim Rashid. Perhaps it's the decidedly post-modern aesthetic; the bold use of pop-art colours and the kitsch geometric design.

Do we like it? Well, Float is certainly a statement piece. But we're not convinced it would be all that comfortable to curl up on for a night of romance, or even to sit on for a bit of telly. It seems to be a case of form before function.

Rashid's design is available in two heights and three widths. It features a slim "floating" seat attached to an oval-shaped back that also serves as a room divider. The back can be fitted with coat hooks, and an angled arm version allows the sofa to function as a chaise. Each component (arms, seat, back and headrests) can be selected in different fabrics.

Manufactured by Spanish furniture company Sancal, Float is available from Matisse (4/F, Nan Dao Commercial Building, 359 Queen's Road Central, Sheung Wan, tel: 3184 0903) and is priced from HK$25,600 to HK$41,200.

 

 

 

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