Text Catherine Shaw / Styling Esther van Wijck / Photography Jonathan Wong
When it came to their first project in Hong Kong, architects Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui and Lorène Faure were given free rein to create an interior that they themselves would want to inhabit. The result is a light-filled home that can also function as a work studio.
The duo, who established their consultancy, Bean Buro Architects, after moving to Hong Kong last year, met in Paris and then worked together in London.
“The ethos of our company is about cultural exchange. We come from Europe and have Oriental roots so we want to create a fresh fusion of those elements,” says Faure, who is French.
The 1,200 sq ft Ap Lei Chau apartment was designed with a young professional couple in mind.
“We wanted to create an urban retreat with a distinctive, refreshing and tranquil design,” says Hong Kong-born Kinugasa-Tsui.
The solution was to create an open space wrapped in natural timber, beyond which are panoramic views of Aberdeen harbour. The key feature, a dove blue “ribbon” wall, adds to the fluid feel, blurring the boundary between the living and dining areas.
“It creates a dynamic that makes the spaces feel layered and connected,” says Kinugasa-Tsui.
Cool, white wall finishes serve as a simple backdrop that offsets statement light fittings; artwork; striking bookshelves; and custom-designed furniture, such as the curvilinear dining table.
“The apartment originally had three small bedrooms, which we removed to create one large master bedroom with plenty of wardrobe space, a work studio for two desks and a spacious living room,” says Faure. “The bathrooms and kitchen needed little attention apart from cosmetic changes, such as removing details and painting cupboards. Our focus was on making the new living and dining spaces feel as open as possible while making the studio feel enclosed.”
Light is maximised by mirrors strategically positioned at the edge of rooms while translucent roller blinds soften the rays of the sun. A low bench, which runs the length of the windows, is clad in the same beech panels as those used for the flooring, to reinforce a visual “infinity” effect.
The designers reconfigured the entrance by replacing a picture window with storage cupboards and cladding the floor, walls and ceiling in a soft grey-brown timber.
“It plays with the notion of a Japanese gate, or mon, and creates a welcoming entrance to the apartment,” Kinugasa-Tsui says.
“There used to be glass there and there was no sense of enclosure.”
The couple designed the timber bedhead in the master bedroom to serve as a room divider, storage space and a bookshelf.
“It allowed us to escape the typical layout of a bedroom and make the space all about the view,” says Faure.
To make up for the loss of a guest bedroom the duo installed origami-inspired paper blinds that descend from the ceiling to create a private space next to the study.
“It is easy and quick to change, which makes it very useful,” says Faure.
It’s a case of form and function coming together seamlessly.
Dining area The curved wall with recessed display nooks (HK$43,000; built by R&C Engineering, 17/F, International Industrial Centre, 2 Kwei Tei Street, Fo Tan, Sha Tin, tel: 2606 3262) was custom designed by Kinugasa-Tsui and Lorène Faure of Bean Buro Architects (9/F, Guangdong Tours Centre, 18 Pennington Street, Causeway Bay, tel: 2420 7200) to create a visual link between the dining and living areas. The Smithfield S Suspension lamps, by Jasper Morrison (£500/HK$6,500 each), came from Flos in London and are available at the company’s Hong Kong store (44 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2801 7608). The dining-table top (HK$8,000), designed by Bean Buro Architects, was made by R&C Engineering and combined with Sinus Trestle legs by Daniel Lorch, for L&Z (£430; lz-elements.com). The cushioned Eames-style leather dining chairs (£60 each) were from Atlantic Shopping (Britannic Warehouse, 142 Sandpits, Birmingham, Britain, tel: 44 12 1230 1644). The curved serving tray (HK$150) was found at Francfranc (8 Kingston Street, Fashion Walk, Causeway Bay, tel: 3583 2528). The Platinum bar stools (HK$2,299 each) came from Come In (7/F, Cheung Hing Industrial building, 23 Tai Yip Street, Ngau Tau Kok, tel: 3107 8802).
Entrance The hallway is lined with timber-finish floorboard panels (HK$55 per square foot) sourced from Penta (Lucky Plaza, 315 Lockhart Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2721 1922). The wall hooks (£95 for a set of five), by Tveit & Tornoe, were found online at www.twentytwentyone.com.
Living area The sofabed (HK$29,000) came from Ligne Roset (16 Blue Pool Road, Happy Valley, tel: 2891 0913). The rug cost HK$1,390 from Ikea (various locations; www.ikea.com.hk). The custom-built coffee table (HK$4,500) and side table (HK$4,500) were both from Dimensions (Green Valley Mansion, 51 Wong Nai Chung Road, Happy Valley, tel: 3162 3721). The wall lamps cost £496 each from Flos in London. The shelving (HK$27,280) in the studio was designed by Bean Buro Architects and manufactured by R&C Engineering.
Kitchen The kitchen needed little updating. The cupboards were repainted to match the overall colour scheme. All the artwork is by Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui.
Master bedroom The window blinds throughout the apartment cost a total of HK$25,000 and were sourced from New Bedford Interiors (67 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2520 0330). The bedside lamps by Paolo Rizzatto cost £496 each from Flos. The floor-to-ceiling wardrobes (HK$60,000) and the same-height mirrors (HK$2,000 each) were all designed by Bean Buro Architects and built by R&C Engineering.
Dressing table The dressing table (HK$8,000) in the master bedroom was designed by Bean Buro Architects and built by R&C Engineering. The mirror (HK$190) was from Ikea and the Skitsch armchair cost HK$5,000 from Dimensions.
Studio The work studio is delineated by a half-height timber-clad wall (HK$28,000; built by R&C Engineering). The desks (HK$3,900 each) were designed by Bean Buro Architects and manufactured by Dimensions. The chairs were also sourced from Dimensions and cost HK$5,000 each. The designers added a low bench along the window ledge that doubles as extra seating. The flooring throughout the apartment was sourced from Penta and cost HK$55 per square foot. When drawn, the origami-inspired paper blinds create a temporary guest room.
Touch paper Simple electronically controlled, origami-inspired paper blinds (HK$26,800; from New Bedford Interiors, 67 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2520 0330) descend from the ceiling to create ethereal "walls" between the living room and the rest of the apartment. This creates an additional private space ideal for accommodating guests.