It started with a tap. Not just any tap, but a rather beautiful black mixer by Dornbracht that now arches gracefully over a white marble sink in the bathroom of a one-bedroom, 650 sq ft apartment in Sheung Wan.
“I love it,” says the apartment’s designer, Candace Campos, founder and creative director of ID-entity Design.
“The bathroom fixtures were the design inspiration for the space and the first things I purchased.”
In keeping with its star status, the tap is visible throughout much of the apartment thanks to a glass wall framed in oxidised black steel. Viewed from the living areas, the sturdy rectangular windows act as a display case for the bathroom’s gleaming white marble wall, large circular mirror and those black fixtures. It’s the apartment’s “ta-da!” moment. (The bathroom’s shower and toilet reside discreetly behind a steel sliding door.) The owner of this gorgeous bathroom is a design professional who splits her time between Hong Kong and London.
“She was a fantastic client,” Campos says. “She liked my design aesthetic and said, ‘Give me an apartment in 12 weeks’, and let me get on with it. For us, 12 weeks seemed a long time – we’re used to doing restaurants with a deadline of eight weeks.”
Campos has designed interiors for restaurants such as Fatty Crab and Cocotte. Currently, she is putting the finishing touches on the Tribute boutique hotel in Yau Ma Tei, due to open this year.
“The main difference between [commercial] and residential design is that you’re not telling a specific story – and residential design has to last 10 years, not three,” Campos says. “It’s difficult given the amount of investment required and the short-term leases, but I feel more and more clients are looking for original concepts rather than cookie-cutter designs.” When she arrived in Hong Kong from California six years ago, Campos’ first projects were residential, so the Sheung Wan project was a return to familiar territory.
The 1980s building – dually zoned for business and residential use – is located on one of the area’s busiest streets, but the apartment is tucked away at the quiet rear of the block. In a previous life, it was used as an office, as evidenced by the original green-and-white terrazzo floor tiles.
Now polished and gleaming (see Tried + tested), the tiles were a key element in the “minimal and refined” design.
Keeping them, however, meant all the electrical cables and plumbing had to be run behind a shallow false ceiling rather than under the floor. Adding texture and disguising the false ceiling are raw concrete beams.
“We chased back the plaster to expose the beams – I love raw beams, they end up in almost all my projects,” Campos says.
To soften the design, Campos chose warm walnut and brass furniture, most of which was custom made.
“The walnut is a warm, organic element among all the hard materials,” she says. The large walnut worktop on the kitchen island has naturally wavy edges and, in a nod to Morocco, inlaid brass butterfly joints. Picking up the North African theme is a luxurious deep-pile vintage Beni Ourain rug with the traditional wobbly geometry. There’s also a large brass floor vase and brass elements on the bar stools, side and coffee tables and the lamps, which add a subtle golden glow to the room.
And then, of course, there’s all the black steel: steel sliding doors front the walk-in wardrobe – a generously proportioned, practical space that runs behind the kitchen and also houses the washing machine and dryer – and there is an entire oxidised steel wall in the bedroom.
Even the Buster + Punch electrical outlet plates and light switches are black metal.
“The oxidisation helps to lighten, warm and soften the steel,” Campos says. The discoloured patches add texture to the metal and give it an interesting, lived-in look. As a counterpoint, the apartment’s windows – which run the width of the bedroom – are dressed with ethereal, translucent white curtains.
Small walnut tables are fastened to the steel wall on either side of the bed and there’s a mid-century sideboard tucked behind the bespoke sofa. But otherwise the space is open and uncluttered.
“I try not to install too much furniture,” Campos says. “I like to leave the client room to build.”
Kitchen and bathroom The solid walnut kitchen worktop (HK$16,000) was designed by ID-entity Design (id-entitydesign.com). The Lambert & Fils ceiling lamp (HK$7,500; lambertetfils.com) was sourced in Canada. The glass-and-steel panels and bathroom door (HK$35,000, including the black oxidised steel sliding doors leading to the shower area) were custom made by Joe Cheng, of Coosa (email@example.com).
Living area The vintage Beni Ourain rug was HK$1,800 from etsy.com. The leather sofa (HK$24,000), brass and glass coffee table (HK$8,000) and wooden bench (HK$4,000) were designed by ID-entity Design. The curtains (HK$13,000) were by Sheryia Curtain (1 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, tel: 2525 6596). The iron window frames (HK$30,000) were custom made by Coosa.
Bedroom The oxidised-steel panels, custom-made bed and floating side tables (HK$35,000) were made by Coosa. The steel wall lamps (HK$3,600 each) were ordered online from Workstead (workstead.com), in New York.
Kitchen detail The black tap (HK$6,500), from Kohler’s Purist range, was ordered online through amazon.com. The kitchen cabinetry (HK$45,000) was custom made by Coosa. The bar stools (HK$3,000 each) were designed by IDentity Design. The walnut and leather Giraffe-A console table (HK$6,200) was from Organic Modernism (5 Square Street, Sheung Wan, tel: 2559 0001).
Bathroom detail (above and below) The “floating” marble sink (HK$10,000) and glossy marble panels (HK$115,000) were made by Coosa. The Tara mixer tap and rain shower are by Dornbracht (dornbracht.com).
Tile be back The apartment's original 1980s terrazzo tiles have been polished to a high sheen using a grinder. "There are still a few watermarks, but it only took a few hours and they came up really well," says interior designer Candace Campos. The white oak and leather Belt-A chair (HK$9,200) and Lucia marble and bronze side table (HK$7,500) are from Organic Modernism. The steel sliding wardrobe doors (HK$16,000) were custom made by Joe Cheng, of Coosa (firstname.lastname@example.org).