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Space craft

Charmaine Chan

 

Afeeling of disorientation hits you on a first spin around Aayla Knight's apartment. It might be the residual effect of having stepped from the lift into a dark, swanky area that resembles a nightclub lobby. Or it could be that as your eyes re-adjust to the light inside the flat, the tour takes in a series of seemingly never-ending spaces, leaving you unsure of how to retrace your steps back to the start.

Then there are the concealed doors, cupboards and light switches, and, at the entrance, the very visible sculpture of a man, wearing only a black cap and a smile, bowing to greet you. If he could speak, he'd say: "Welcome to my playroom."

Looking around, it is easy to conclude that this Mid-Levels flat has been designed primarily for Amie, Yoda and Leia, the three small dogs who share the 3,300 sq ft space with their owner, a Star Wars fan and banker with a penchant for retro-modern furniture, minimalist interior design and quirky art.

"I wanted some humour," says Knight, who tasked Eric Leung, of Mio Design, with the apartment's reconfiguration while she herself took care of the decor.

Her brief for Leung, with whom she had worked on her previous apartment, was to create convertible spaces "and lots of hidden storage" - so much, in fact, that Knight, who lives in the flat with two helpers, says only half of it is currently used.

Some of those concealed cupboards make up the 800 sq ft private zone, which, along with the rest of the flat, took six months to design and six more to renovate into a one-to-three bedroom home, depending on its set-up.

"Much thought went into achieving a continuous space with no dead ends," Leung says, "so one room leads to the next, the next and the next."

He is referring to the way in which the master bedroom segues into an open bathroom, which in turn melds into a gym/study, the dogs' room and a spare room, which accommodates a Murphy bed for guests.

"We discussed at length how we could have everything really open but that could be closed for privacy," says Knight. "If it's just me, my helpers and my dogs, we want to make sure we use all the space."

While sliding doors close off some areas, automated curtains were installed in the master bathroom to provide a modicum of privacy while still allowing Knight's three "fur balls" the run of the flat.

That might see them having breakfast in their own room, which is equipped with cupboards for doggy paraphernalia, or exercising on the podium, formerly a bedroom that Knight converted into an open space where she can swing on a transparent ball chair while watching television in the formal living room a split level down.

Flanking the living area and furnished largely with keepsakes from her previous home, such as a B&B Italia sofa, are a deep, enclosed balcony and a long kitchen, whose size belies the fact Knight rarely cooks.

As in her previous home, the walls are bare, save for art. They are fronted by concrete boards that make for somewhat brutal Tadao Ando-like surfaces and hide everything from shoes to knick-knacks and switches.

"I'm a bit anal that way," says Knight. "But when you put light switches on the walls it kind of spoils the look."

The approach adds to that sense of discombobulation when the walls are suddenly thrown open to reveal deep cupboards, such as the walk-in winter wardrobe in the private zone and its twin, used for summer apparel.

So "clean" is the look that even dehumidifiers have been accounted for.

"We hide them," says Knight, explaining that they are accommodated in a gap between the curtains and windows. "Things like that took a long time to plan," she adds.

But with so much concealed, does she ever forget where things live?

"I try to be organised," she says, laughing. "So far, so good."

 

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