Taken as read
The interior of a Redhill apartment speaks volumes about the bibliophile who owns it
Text David Phair / Styling Candace Campos / Photographs Jonathan Wong
The first thing that strikes visitors entering Geoff Poon’s Redhill Peninsula flat is not the jawdropping view it affords of the Dragon’s Back soaring above Tai Tam Bay.
Rather, what catches the eye are the dark oak, bevelled-glass bookcases filled with countless tomes, in places stacked two deep. This, clearly, is the home of a serious bibliophile, with hundreds of books.
“Actually, there are thousands,” chuckles Poon, director of Urban Anchor, an architectural and interior design firm.
Poon, who lives with his wife, Salina, spent a large part of his teenage and university years in Britain, where, every weekend, he would browse the bookshops of Charing Cross Road and Waterstone’s in Piccadilly, London.
“I have always imagined that paradise would be a kind of library,” he says, quoting Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges’ work Poema de los Dones.
The 18 bookcases Poon built are key to the new look of what he describes as having been a “very plain” two-bedroom, 1,400 sq ft apartment. But not only do the cabinets house his books, they also solved the problem of how to display the couple’s art collection. Neatly concealed runners built into the front of the cabinets are used to hang paintings from and can slide to provide access to the books.
Complementing the bookcases, which are made of black oak, to give them a serious, weighty appearance, is smoky brown laminate flooring that Poon believes “looks more real than the real wood. This colour also looks better in laminate”.
Another of Poon’s collections – of old Kodak cameras – along with a portable Olivetti typewriter adds to a stimulating overall aesthetic.
“It’s the first typewriter design using plastic so it’s quite revolutionary,” he says.
Also unusual is the marble-topped dining table with bulbous wooden legs, which Poon designed. And visible from the dining area is the galley kitchen, with its black-and-white cabinetry and eyecatching mosaic floor.
Poon, an architect who moved into interior design about six years ago, spent more than HK$1 million on the renovation, much of it on the kitchen (Salina finds cooking “therapeutic”) and two bathrooms, not to mention the bookcases.
Introducing a different feel is the master bedroom, where dark walls afford a sense of sanctuary.
“We wanted the room to be tranquil,” says Poon.
Mouldings on the doors were a costeffective way of creating an almost artdeco- like atmosphere.
“I wanted elaborate ones, as they have a language of their own,’” he says.
Despite having overseen scores of renovations for clients, this was the first time Poon had completely revamped his own home. And from it he learned one crucial lesson: the art of compromise.
“My wife and I had different wants.
She wanted a bigger kitchen, I wanted a bigger library,” he says. “I can empathise more with clients now. It’s not just about design, it’s about communication between the parties involved.”
Significantly, he sees the apartment as a suitable space in which to start a family.
“I want [my children] to grow up in a place full of fantasy.”
And if Poon had to move, what would he miss most?
“The tranquility and the view,” he says.
“At weekends I love just sitting on the balcony, with a book in my hand.”
Kitchen Geoff Poon sourced the materials for the kitchen and it was installed by Urban Anchor (24/F, Success Commercial Building, 245 Hennessy Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2542 2344). The cabinets and countertop cost HK$150,000 in total. The Lea Ceramiche wall tiles cost HK$60 per square foot from Pacific Tiles Collection (187 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2866 9980). The marble floor mosaic was laid to a custom-made pattern. The tiles cost HK$400 per square foot at a marble shop on Lockhart Road.
Living room and bookcases The marble-top dining table (HK$25,000) and brass-studded chairs (HK$4,000 each) were custom made by Urban Anchor. The large glass-and-brass light fitting over the dining table came from a shop in Shenzhen and cost HK$6,000. The pendant light with tassels was from Tequila Kola (various locations; www.tequilakola.com) and cost HK$5,000. The sofa (HK$30,000) was custom made by sofasogood (various locations; www.sofasogood.com.hk). The cushions (HK$500 each) came from Marimekko (various locations; www.marimekko.com).
The dark Wellington Oak laminate flooring throughout the flat is from Balterio’s Grandeur range. It cost HK$70 per square foot at Seiko Floor Engineering (315 Lockhart Road, tel: 2739 9638). The 18 book cabinets (HK$8,000 each) were custom built in black oak with bevelled glass by Urban Anchor. The chair in the corridor, a gift from Poon’s parents, was hand-crafted in ebony. The ceiling light was a chance find in a Shenzhen lighting shop and cost HK$600.
Entrance The handmade wooden cabinet next to the front door is by Lola Glamour and cost HK$20,000 at MM/H (15/F, Windsor House, 311 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, tel: 3168 2098). The cameras are vintage Kodak Petite models and were bought on eBay.
Living room detail The vintage draughtsman’s table (HK$7,000) came from Shambala (2/F, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2555 2997). The Linhof Technika camera belonged to Poon’s father. The Olivetti Valentine typewriter cost HK$3,000 on eBay. The aged painting was bought at a flea market in Paris, France. Behind it is a painting by Wang Yongyu, which was given to Poon by the mainland artist. The lamp came from a lighting shop in Shenzhen. The antique wooden bookholder was a gift.
Master bedroom The vintage, marble-top table was a gift. On the wall is a painting by Poon’s wife that she gave to her husband. The vintage table lamp was bought years ago in an antique shop in Taipei, Taiwan. The Hermes Rocket typewriter was bought on eBay for HK$2,000. The vintage cameras by Rolleiflex and Kodak also came from eBay and cost HK$1,000 to HK$3,000 each. The wall lamp was bought from a lighting shop in Shenzhen. The rosewood chair was a gift from Poon’s parents. The bed and headboard were custom made for HK$14,000 by Urban Anchor.
Bathroom The Spanish-made marble-effect wall tiles (HK$60 per square foot) were bought from Hing Fat Ceramics (241 Lockhart Road, tel: 2802 0889). The Kohler tap (HK$4,000) came from Arnhold Design (315 Lockhart Road, tel: 2865 0318). The built-in cabinets were custom made by Urban Anchor and cost HK$8,000. The Dillon series towel rail and cabinet knobs were bought online from www.restorationhardware.com for US$10 to US$80 each. The toilet-roll holder was bought online from www.taobao.com for HK$200.
Slide effects With bookcases taking up most of the wall space in his flat, Geoff Poon hit upon a novel way to showcase his art. He installed wooden panels on runners that slide left and right, allowing access to the books behind. On them hang canvasses, such as this painting, Bicycle Flight, by Yin Xin, from Kashgar. It was bought at Galerie Huit (8 St Francis Street, Wan Chai, tel: 2520 0281).