Making the cut
A hair stylist searching for a venue for parties, shows and workshops – with a crash pad thrown in – downed his shears to take up a design challenge
Text Viv Jones / Photography John Butlin / Styling David Roden
When Paul Gerrard took on a 4,000 sq ft warehouse space in Quarry Bay, it was his first foray into largescale interior design.
“I wanted to create a multifunctional space,” he says. “And I designed it all myself so I made plenty of mistakes. It was a real case of trial and error.”
Having made a success of his eponymous hair salon, in Central, the stylist was looking for a fresh challenge and saw the need for a venue that could host training workshops, seminars, fashion shows, art exhibitions and company events, as well as serving as an occasional crash pad.
“I wanted to do something completely different in Hong Kong and I had a strong vision of what I wanted to achieve,” he says. “I could never find a suitable venue large enough to host my staff Christmas function, for 70 people, so I decided to do it myself – that is, create a funky, flexible spot that was different to the bland corporate boxes you find elsewhere in Hong Kong.”
Finding the right space took him little more than six weeks because Gerrard knew the area and was familiar with the building, which also houses his gym. For work purposes, the fact that it was easy to get from there to Central was crucial.
“It was a clean, basic shell when I got it,” says the Briton, who had help in the renovation from his father, Arthur Holmes, of Phoenix Hire and Sales. With just one electric socket, one light switch and basic plumbing to work with, there was plenty to be done.
“Together, we worked out the allocation of space – where to put the bedroom and office, the storage, the bathrooms, the kitchen and so on,” Gerrard says. “Knowing that the space had to serve many functions meant the biggest challenge was how to break up the floor area so it could be set up for different events.”
His inspiration came, not surprisingly, from the lofts of New York, with their open-plan layouts and raw industrial aesthetic.
Sourcing bricks for the walls was an initial challenge.
“Everything looked too new,” he says. “I wanted bricks that had character, that looked like they’d been used over and over again.” His father’s contacts came up with the goods, and cheaply, too.
To break up the central area, Gerrard hit upon the idea of using iron girders set at an angle to create bookshelves.
“I literally taped planks of wood where I wanted them to be – and then went away to Australia for two weeks. When I came back, it was done!” he says. “Fortunately, the girders just fitted in the lift, but they had to be mitred on site.”
Throughout the apartment, the concrete floor and walls were kept raw, a look that complements the dramatic graffiti artwork by the entrance. A big kitchen was necessary to cater for and accommodate a crowd and Gerrard opted for stainless-steel units and subway tiles to keep the look urban and utilitarian. Most of the furniture is moveable and multifunctional, some of it created from Gerrard’s packing cases. A DJ station doubles as a reception desk and, because it is on castors, can be moved as required. A central “bar” can be converted to three hair-wash stations for salon events simply by removing the countertop. In the kitchen the island unit can be rolled away and plugged in to double as a bar. There is a panel inset into the countertop that can be removed to reveal a large compartment for ice and drinks.
From the large bank of flickering vintage televisions Gerrard bought in Sham Shui Po to the pole-dancing podiums, lighting and 1970s-inspired seating area (created by nailing wallpapered boards to bare bricks), the stylist’s working/living space has all the elements of a stage set ready for action.
Sitting area The 1930s-style suede sofa was purchased several years ago from Lane Crawford (various locations; www.lanecrawford.com). The chairs were bought from a barber shop in Sheung Wan that was closing. They cost HK$1,000 each and were reupholstered for HK$3,500 by Tung Ah Sofa (12A Elgin Street, Central, tel: 2540 8363). The 50s glazed ceramic lamps were bought from an antiques shop in San Francisco, in the United States, several years ago. The wood-and-glass coffee table (HK$4,500) and side tables (HK$2,500 each) were custom made by Paul Gerrard’s contractor, his father – Arthur Holmes, of Phoenix Hire and Sales (tel: 9813 5404). The console table was purchased from G.O.D. (various locations; www.god.com.hk) for HK$2,500. The 20s bronze sculpture on the coffee table was bought at the Sydney Antique Centre, in Australia (www.sydantcent.com.au), for HK$14,000. The 70sstyle wallpaper cost HK$700 a roll from Wall Candy Wallpaper, in Sydney (www.wallcandywallpaper.com.au). On the back wall is a staggered shelf designed by Gerrard (firstname.lastname@example.org) and built by the contractor for HK$500. Gerrard bought the disco ball in Sham Shui Po for HK$180, and the paintings were collected on his travels in Australia.
Bar The bar area, which has a removable countertop and sinks underneath to double as a hair-wash area for salon events, was designed by Gerrard and built by the contractor for HK$5,000. The wall lamp (HK$800) and lamps with red shades (HK$1,000 per pair) all came from House of Siren (LG/F, Carlos Court, 64 Robinson Road, Mid-Levels, tel: 2530 2371). In keeping with the New York loft vibe, the contractor added distressed bricks over the existing structural column.
Dining area The wood-and-steel table was designed by Gerrard and built by the contractor for HK$6,000. The reproduction Eames chairs cost HK$700 each at SofaSale (2/F, Tung Kin Factory Building, 196 Tsat Tsz Mui Road, Quarry Bay, tel: 2541 1230). Preparing for a Christmas meal with friends and family, Gerrard realised he needed a centrepiece light fixture. He sourced the bulbs from Home Essentials (33 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2870 1400) for HK$100 each and the contractor built the industrial-style chandelier, using 150 feet of cable, for HK$6,000. The curtains were made with fabric bought from Sham Shui Po market, which was cut to length and doubled over steel poles.
Kitchen The stainless-steel kitchen units cost HK$18,000 from Ikea (various locations; www.ikea.com.hk) and Gerrard had the countertop custom made by Shun Tong Engineering (73 Larch Street, Tai Kok Tsui, tel: 2394 1136) for HK$14,000. The subway tiles (30 HK cents each) were from Pacific Lifestyle (17/F, Kwan Chart Tower, 6 Tonnochy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2543 8870). The 50s Vladimir Tretchikoff print came from House of Siren. The brushed-steel island on industrial wheels was designed by Gerrard and custom made by the contractor for HK$8,000.
Bookshelves Gerrard designed the bookshelves as a way to break up the vast expanse of floor space. It was built by the contractor for HK$28,000. Gerrard bought the flamingoes (US$76 for four pairs) from www.getflocked.com, not realising they were designed as garden ornaments and had no feet. The contractor had to drill small holes in the wood to secure them to the shelves.
DJ station/entrance The artwork on the walls near the entrance was created by three local graffiti artists known as The Wild Ones (www.the-wild-ones.com). Gerrard bought the two armchairs on AsiaXpat.com for HK$2,000 in total. The low table is an antique Chinese bath bought on Cat Street, Central, for HK$1,800. The industrial-style ceiling lights (HK$120 each) were bought from E Lighting (206 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2802 3068). The reception/DJ station was made from wooden packing cases that Gerrard’s antique display cabinets were shipped in. He had the contractor make a steel countertop and add large wheels at a cost of about HK$5,000.
Bathroom The bathroom is clad in concrete. The sink cost HK$400 at Hop Lung Building Material (239 Lockhart Road, tel: 2802 2273). The mirror was bought on AsiaXpat.com for HK$600. The black tap was from Richtop (354 Lockhart Road, tel: 2834 3488) and cost HK$1,500. Gerrard designed the steel countertop, which was built by the contractor for HK$5,000.
Bedroom The vintage iron bed was bought in Britain 25 years ago. The limited-edition anniversary Arco lamp was bought from Flos (44 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2801 7608) for HK$15,000. The altar table cost HK$3,000 at Shambala (2/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2552 2475), and on top are vases bought from the Sydney Antique Centre. The lamp is a 30s Bakelite and chrome piece purchased from a flea market in London several years ago. Beneath are a pair of gold embroidered children’s jackets in acrylic cases, bought years ago from an antique shop in Britain. The antique kilim rug was bought several years ago on Hollywood Road. The black lacquered chest (HK$2,500) came from G.O.D.
Enter the dungeon Paul Gerrard wanted a solid steel "dungeon-like" door for his warehouse space. Rather than install a new one, he decided to use the original wooden door and clad it in steel (HK$16,000 from Century Works, 3 King Sing Street, Wan Chai, tel: 2572 8908). The peephole was inspired by the one in the door that guards the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz, one of Gerrard's favourite films.