Lindsay Jang and Alex Maeland were looking for a two- to three-bedroom rental flat two years ago when their real-estate agent found them the “perfect” place.
At 900 square feet, the property was a bit smaller than they and Jang’s two children would have liked, but it was bright, open plan, loft chic and in up-and-coming Kennedy Town. It had a roomy kitchen and a bathroom that, in space-saving Hong Kong at least, could be faulted only for its size: extra large. Oh ... and it had only one bedroom.
Regardless, the couple, who were out of Hong Kong at the time, were smitten.
“We virtually committed to it without seeing it,” says Jang, a Canadian-born-Chinese entrepreneur who, since moving to Hong Kong eight years ago, has opened yakitori-ya Yardbird, in Central; Ronin, a Japanese restaurant, in Sheung Wan; online liquor and lifestyle-goods store Sunday’s Grocery; and MissBish, an online publication with a focus on fitness.
Figuring out the living logistics was straightforward. The children, now eight and five, would sleep in the bedroom and, just outside, in a far corner of the living area, Jang and Maeland would have their Californian king bed (longer than a king but slightly less wide).
“They go to bed early; that’s why we put them in the room,” Jang says. “We try to get up early, so [they are] a natural alarm.”
The pair then swapped ideas about how best to furnish their home.
“We did a Pinterest for this,” says Maeland, an American photographer who has just launched an audiovisual publication called Maekan. “We had a mood board on how to decorate; I’d pin stuff; she’d pin stuff.”
Ideas about curtaining off their bed may not have come to fruition but, otherwise, suitable spaces were found for everything they wanted to keep.
“There’s not a lot of wall space because of all the windows, so we said, ‘Let’s just organise [some of] the art on the floor,’” Maeland says.
Much of their collection was acquired through personal relationships. That includes the canvas hanging behind their bed, by New York graffiti artist Futura, who gave the work to the pair after coming to Hong Kong for an Art Basel event in 2015 catered for by Yardbird and photographed by Maeland.
Other evidence of happy collaborations abound, most significantly in the furniture of Sean Dix. Around his round, brushed-stainless-steel-and-glass dining table are chairs he designed for Yardbird.
The L-shaped green sofa is also a design of Dix, as is the walnut credenza, with orange door, that stands by the entrance.
Since the couple moved in, there has been another meaningful link forged, this time, coincidentally, with one of the flat’s co-owners, Adam Sherman, a real-estate investor and developer. It was only after a connection had already been established – of landlord and tenant – that Jang and Sherman came together, work-wise, for a villa development, the Nesaya, in Koh Samui, Thailand.
“He knew I did a lot with yoga and fitness as well as F&B so he asked me to help him with this project,” says Jang.
Sherman bought the Kennedy Town flat in 2011, converting what had been four studios into a single light-filled flat.
“We wanted a chic, industrial-loft feel with modern comforts,” he says.
To achieve the look, windows were installed on three sides, and distressed-brick walls built to add warmth and grit. More texture was added in the form of a “disruptive” brutal concrete column that stands in the middle of the flat, proudly pockmarked, and bare of any plaster or paint.
The aesthetic is one both Jang and Maeland appreciate. Also appealing is the discipline that comes with living in an open-plan unit. That is why – apart from his 30-plus pairs of trainers and her Carrie Bradshaw-inspired collection of shoes (stored, with their clothes, in the children’s room) – they try not to hoard.
“We have a good habit of not keeping things we know we’re not going to use,” Jang says.
More important, Maeland adds, Hong Kong has forced them to acquire with care.
Perfection, it seems, can be achieved through a meeting of minds.
Living area The Mod sofa (US$1,328) is available from Dix Design + Architecture. The walnut Slide credenza with orange door cost US$730 from Dix Design. On it is a toy Michelin Man found among rubbish. The Eames moulded plywood coffee table (HK$9,999) is available at Aluminium. The painting, KEEP (2013), is by New York artist Julia Chiang. The artwork on the concrete column is by local artist Prodip Leung Wai-ting (www.projectafterdark.com). Leung and Supreme produced the skateboard art. Beside the sofa are two Case Study bedside tables (US$615 each) from Modernica, in Los Angeles. The rug, from Kazakhstan, came from a shop in Horizon Plaza many years ago.
Dining area The oak-with-white-frame Copine chairs (US$126 each) and oak-with-black-frame Yardbird chair (US$142) were designed by Sean Dix, as were the Branch round dining table (US$1,016) and Yardbird barstool (US$174).
Work area The metal desk came from Ikea’s discount corner and the Bertoia chair with leather seat pad (HK$14,000) is available at Aluminium. The photo of Eminem and Rick Rubin was taken by Jeremy Deputat. The framed cat, below the fake Rolex wall clock, is by Jang’s daughter, Lili; and the photo of New York is by Alex Maeland.
Sleeping area The Case Study bed (US$1,290) came from Modernica. The white bedside table (US$290) is from Vitsoe. The artwork behind the bed is by Futura, and the cartoons on the wall are by Cath Love.
Bathroom The roomy bathroom accommodates separate shower and toilet cubicles, in addition to a full-length tub and plenty of storage.
TRIED + TESTED
The writing’s on the glass Lindsay Jang and Alex Maeland live in a flat with few internal walls but many windows. Lacking wall space on which to hang a whiteboard, they turned the glass surrounding them into a working surface for ideas. Effective on glass are Glass Paint Marker pens or those from other brands such as Uchida, Pebeo, Crayola, Sakura and American Crafts.