New World Development invited more than 700 VIP guests to an inspiring art journey at the launch of its 66 Private Collectables book at luxurious new Mid-Levels residence The Signature.
The event, earlier this month, was the first of its kind in Hong Kong. It featured displays of collectable books and contemporary artwork in two duplex units in addition to cocktail parties in the building's well-appointed clubhouse. Proceeds from the sale of 66 Private Collectables, produced by SCMP Marketing Services, will go to support the K11 Art Foundation for local contemporary artists.
New World Development's executive director and joint general manager, Adrian Cheng, described the event as part of a movement to immerse art and culture into what he calls 'timeless living'.
'When we talk about living, it's not just luxury living, it's a living that is self-expressive, energetic and international,' he said. 'The location, the design of the building and the quality of the building epitomise this timeless living.'
Developed by New World Development and Peterson Holdings, The Signature comprises 66 apartments with gross floor areas of 2,016 sq ft up to 4,034 sq ft. The homes come equipped with state-of-the-art appliances from Miele, Sub-Zero and Bulthaup, not to mention spectacular harbour and mountain views from the nearly floor-to-ceiling windows. Building amenities include a fitness centre, reading lounge, 20-metre swimming pool, function room and private English garden. 'It's surprisingly tasteful,' said guest Mark Chan, director and head of strategic sales for Deutsche Bank's Institutional Client Group, Hong Kong. 'It's an emerging, inspirational type of design that I think New World is trying to capture. It's not gaudy. It's more artistic, using a more earthy type of material.'
The elegant, understated design provided the backdrop for a number of collectable pieces, including colourful handmade lamps and sculptures by glass studio Borowski.
'People are looking for something very special and different, something with personality. You can find that in our pieces,' said Borowski's managing director, Krzysztof Przybylo, who began collaborating with New World Development at the K11 art mall.
Two duplex units occupying the 40th and 41st floors were transformed into gallery spaces for rare books and contemporary art.
The books included La Danse du Chateau (Dance Castle), a text of Cervantes published in 1962 with engravings by sculptors Alberto Giacometti and Louis Chavignier; a limited-edition sketchbook by English sculptor and artist Henry Moore from 1980; and a first edition of the Art Institute of Chicago: 100 Masterpieces signed by Marc Chagall, Georgia O'Keefe, Joan Miro, Ivan Albright and Willem de Kooning.
'This is my first time seeing a showcase of collectable books,' said guest Robert Shum, CEO of architectural and interiors firm Cypress Group and a member of Tate Modern's Asia-Pacific acquisitions committee. 'This is another way in which New World is a pioneer. A lot of people expect them to show art, but showing collectable books is actually quite educational. It's nothing strange in the Western world, but for Hong Kong it's quite rare.'
Contemporary art from Galerie Perrotin was star of the show in the neighbouring duplex, with pieces by such artists as Paola Pivi, Bernard Frize and Farhad Moshiri in an exhibition entitled 'Living With Art'.
'We are delighted to work with Galerie Perrotin,' Cheng said. 'They are one of the best galleries in the world and we were able to curate a very nice journey that is very non-traditional.
There are Korean artists, French artists and Iranian artists, displaying different art forms from installation and embroidery to video art and oil on canvas. It's very contemporary and very young.'
Works on display included a video installation, Women are Heroes, by Parisian artist and photographer JR; a photograph, Untitled (Self Portrait as a Flame), by Polish artist Piotr Uklanski; a sculpture, Figure No. 2 (Nina), by Frenchman Xavier Veilhan; and a pair of resin and leather chairs by hip-hop icon Pharrell Williams.
'I was quite surprised when we got this proposal because a lot of pieces that we are introducing to the Hong Kong market are quite contemporary, very Western,' said gallery director Alice Lung. 'We were quite surprised that New World was willing to take a risk and show something that was completely different and new.'
Korean-born American artist Jin Meyerson, who has opened a studio in Hong Kong, was on hand to introduce his 32 Seconds of Solitude, a multilayered painting representing 32 seconds of footage from John Woo's war epic Red Cliff.
'Painting has the rare ability to be both physical and virtual,' Meyerson said.
'If you slow down an image enough, there's this point where time and space become infinite. So what I've done is projected the movie and taken photographs, one for each second, then piled them on top of one another.'
The painting was done entirely by hand, with the layers creating different colours and levels of transparency.
'Art does two things,' Meyerson said. 'It affects our perception and it represents the moment. If it can do those two things, it becomes timeless.'
Timelessness is a central theme for New World Development and Cheng, who views The Signature as an enduring art piece on its own. 'Sometimes you don't need to put trillions of art pieces into a building to tell people that this is art. Many times it's about the software, how you live,' Cheng said.
'It's about living like an artist - artistically and culturally - and how to build timeless living and to sustain it.
'For our customers, we always want to promote a journey of imagination. It's not just that something is visually stunning or beautiful; it's about the experience, the emotional connection or attachment that the product has, and our company has, with our clients.'