AS TOLD TO VIVIAN CHEN ILLUSTRATION BOX DESIGN
WHO: Richy Ng
INTERIOR DESIGNER: The Glasgow-born interior designer honed his skills with multiple design firms in Britain before establishing his own firm, Box Design,in 1998. His Hong Kong-based, award-winning firm has been responsible for projects spanning from luxury residences to fashion retail spaces.
Why leave your priceless art collection at a secluded warehouse when you can have them safely secured in your own backyard?
Award-winning interior designer Richy Ng has been getting an increasing amount of requests from his high-flyer clients wanting a private art gallery where they can flaunt their collection, and which functions as a secured storage space, a restoration studio and a multipurpose venue to entertain.
With a budget of HK$35 million, Ng envisions a gallery that offers it all.
For aesthetics and security purposes, Ng will conceal the gallery space underground, camouflaged by a pond.
The idea, Ng says, comes from his experience growing up in the hustle bustle of Glasgow, Scotland. "I lived in a very busy neighbourhood and a museum is where you find utmost silence," he says.
To provide viewers and guests with a peaceful state of mind, Ng will design a concealed stairwell and tunnel that will lead to the main underground gallery space.
A biometric-based security system and motion censors will be installed at the front gate. Ng says the lighting in the tunnel is equally important as the iron gates. "The artificial lighting will be gradually darkened to help viewers better adjust [their eyesight]," he says.
The underground facility will feature storage space, exhibition space and a hydraulic-controlled platform that connects to the restoration studio one floor below.
One of the "wow" factors of the project are the conveyor belts that allow owners to archive, store and exhibit their paintings with a customised central smart-tech device.
The system will allow owners to mark each of their paintings and store the pieces in their designated compartments. Once owners enter the registered code of a certain piece of artwork, the conveyor belt picks up the piece and moves it to the centre of the room or hangs it on an ideal location on the wall.
Constructing the system requires combined mechanisms specifically tailor made for the project.
"It's going to be expensive and challenging to install," Ng says.
While the main chunk of the budget will be spent on the designing, wiring and construction of the conveyor belt system, security, lighting and environment-control systems are also costly investments for the gallery.
Ng has designed a lighting system that makes use of both natural light and artificial lighting.
"As natural light bleaches and cracks paintings, we will add UV/IR filters to glass panels," Ng explains. "An intelligent lighting system will catch sunlight and adjust indoor lighting accordingly to strike a balance. We use these skylight systems, such as Lutron lighting, quite often."
Similar to the lighting system, air conditioning with ventilation, temperature and humidity control will be centralised to the house for easy control.
"We want to keep the humidity around 50 to 55 per cent, just before mould starts to grow," Ng says.
To safeguard the art collection, Ng will use a biometric security system which provides access via iris scan or fingerprint scan. The entrance will also be equipped with smart technology that sends notifications to the owner's computer or other portable devices every time pre-registered personnel enter the gallery.
While Ng strives to keep the owners' art collection safe and sound, he will also create a surrealistic canvas to better showcase the artworks by flooring the space with artificial grass.
"Because the gallery is underground, I don't want it to be cold and alienated," he says. "The indoor greens give the space a soft and out-of-this world feel."