The 10,000 sq ft Bowerbird Home, in Ap Lei Chau, feels less like a furniture store than a warehouse-cum-flea market. Every corner of the space is filled with treasures handpicked by Philippa Haydon, an Australian with a knack for choosing mismatched items that work beautifully together. Hers is one of the few shops in Hong Kong that stocks blue-and-white ceramics, Chesterfield sofas and ornamental birdcages.
What's the inspiration behind your store? "I wanted to offer something different. There are so many things I imagined being able to buy in Hong Kong for my home that I couldn't. I set about creating a space filled with those things and was able to source and offer them at prices that meant they would also appeal to the international design market."
How did you enter the furniture business? "My father was a furniture designer and manufacturer so I grew up in the business. My own career took a diversion to banking, but I've been drawn back."
How did you come up with the name Bowerbird and how does it reflect your shop? "After months of uninspired ideas, I saw the name on the spine of a book. I was standing in a bookstore in a small Australian country town and it was suddenly surprisingly obvious. I've often referred to myself as a Bowerbird [the males are known to build ornate nests and for their love of blue], because I'm also a collector of blue and white."
How do you choose the lines/pieces you carry? "I try to choose furniture and accessories that are classic and elegant but not available elsewhere in Hong Kong. It's an eclectic gathering, but all the pieces work in forming particular stories, whether you're looking for classic sophistication for a Mid-Levels apartment, a Hamptons feel on the Southside or French provincial on The Peak."
What are your most popular items and looks? "Customers love our solid oak furniture. It's a fraction of the price they will pay for the same product in the United States, Europe or Australia. They particularly like the extendable dining tables that cater to their ever-changing apartment sizes. [And for] all things blue and white, we have a stunning and extensive range from ceramic jars to painted consoles."
Do you provide any interior design services? "We are happy to help with suggestions. Many customers bring photos and some even bring floor plans. If they are looking for a higher level of service we can refer them to an interior designer that we think will understand their needs."
Bowerbird Home is at Level 2, Oceanic Industrial Centre, 2 Lee Lok Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2552 2727.