Why were you inspired by Berlin? "It has a big mix of people. Berlin is the kind of city where you can be yourself. [Foreigners] feel free there because they don't feel like they're living in someone else's country. It's very casual. In a lot of places, there is this kind of shabby underground disco feeling."
How did that translate into the design? "I tried to make it as simple as possible so you could see the materials, which are quite rough. The DJ booth is made of a wood mould with concrete poured inside, so you can still see the texture. The underside of the bar is made of wood boards used by carpenters to chop other boards. They lay them on the ground and cut, so every [indentation] is random. It took me six months to find those boards because [most carpenters] didn't want to sell them to me."
Mitte has a clubby feel. Given the quiet location, are you worried about noise complaints? "Hong Kong is quite sensitive about sound so I did double glazing on the windows and then added 10cm foam insulation on the ceiling and walls. The acoustics are quite good here. The sound system is Genelec, which is used to produce music, so it's a very clean sound."
You started your career with Spanish architect Patricia Urquiola. What did you learn from your time with her? "The W [hotel] on Vieques Island, Puerto Rico, was one of the biggest projects I worked on [with her]. I co-designed a vast spectrum of projects from rooms, public areas, an airport lobby and restaurants down to signage, furniture and accessories. We put an endless amount of work into details. I was young and had just graduated and had to take on big responsibilities and deal with very important clients, like Starwood Hotels, Reig Capital and Alain Ducasse. The design of the hotel itself is chic, fresh, ironic, very Urquiola. [It] reminds me of both Ibiza, with its vibe and colours, and Milan design quality.
"Another project was the showroom of Flos and Moroso, in London, which was very cool and interesting because we had to create a container to host two of the most important lighting and furniture Italian brands. The challenge was to design a neutral space that accentuated the products, but that was catchy and contemporary at the same time. We came up with the idea of using bent white tubes as a design element and [to create] a connection between the two floors."
What other plans do you have for the future? "For now I'm focusing on Mitte. At a later stage I would like to create a glass design brand with my mum. That's been put on the back burner for the last 10 years. I would also like to have the time and possibility to dedicate myself to my passions - travel, furniture design, art and maybe photography or cinema."
Mitte is at 1A Upper Station Street, Sheung Wan, tel: 2803 7080.