Text Charmaine Chan / Photography Jonathan Wong / Styling David Rod
Art is often, unfortunately, an afterthought in interior design. That could never be said of Reiko Tokoyoda’s home in Repulse Bay, however: paintings and other works of art were used to determine the look of each room from the outset.
Some pieces were keepsakes brought to Hong Kong last year when Tokoyoda left Singapore with her family, all of whom are originally from Japan; others were chosen specifically for their new townhouse. One, a mobile that hangs above a grand piano, was created especially for her.
“We wanted each space to have a character so they felt like their own entities,” says JAR Design’s principal architect, Juliana Rotmeyer, who worked with JAR designer Amy Sledge to turn the rental property into a family home.
Tokoyoda, her husband – who works in finance – and their two children, eight-year-old son Lynn, and Ann, six, now inhabit a stylish abode infused with colour and furnished in a modern, playful way.
“[Tokoyoda] felt compromised by the white walls,” says Sledge, recalling how impersonal the 2,800 sq ft, three-storey house felt to begin with. “She wanted it to feel inviting, like it was her home, and requested contemporary furniture with a vintage twist.”
Along with artwork, lighting was key.
In one of Tokoyoda’s favourites spaces, the dining area, a vibrant turquoise wall introduces a nautical theme to reflect the sea view and Lynn’s interest in fishing – which is also the subject of the framed artworks by Michael Cartwright that hang on one wall. In turn his semi-circular boat shapes are echoed in the legs of the dining table, while circular fishing nets complement a large vintage lamp hanging from the ceiling. Clocks grouped together on the opposite wall pick up on the motif.
It is on this middle floor that Tokoyoda has a work corner and the children have space to play under her watchful eye.
But they also have the run of the living room on the ground level, where they’re encouraged to cavort on a curved, plumcoloured sofa that can be reconfigured to suit different needs. “It has the essence of family,” says Rotmeyer. “They could jump on it and not be afraid of ruining it. It’s also flexible.”
Purples and greys warm the surfaces of this room, which segues into a large entrance area that accommodates the grand piano and looks on to a plant-filled outdoor area. It is over this hulking musical instrument that hangs the delicate mobile Sledge created for her. The piece, which recalls the moving sculptures of Alexander Calder, casts shadows that resemble small paddles. “It was influenced by the shapes upstairs,” says Sledge.
“The semi-circles, the boat … I love the shadows, [it] is art in itself.”
The careful play of shapes throughout art and furnishings continues on the top floor, which contains the master bedroom, with en-suite bathroom, and the children’s rooms. In this private area, the couple’s older art hangs.
“We didn’t want to completely remove their artwork but we relocated it to less public spaces,” says Rotmeyer, who, with Sledge, scoured local galleries to find pieces for the lower floors.
As if to remind their clients of the ideas that bind their home’s design together, Rotmeyer and Sledge have left behind a practical gift that doubles as installation art. Eight paint-filled mason jars sit proudly on a cabinet in the living area.
“That was our palette,” says Rotmeyer.
“They’re all the colours we’ve used in the house, so if [Tokoyoda] needs to touch something up, it’s there.”
No doubt the clients will be receiving more jars in the near future. Having seen the townhouse transformed, Tokoyoda’s husband now wants JAR Design to brighten his office. So how are the designers preparing for their next job? “We’ve started art shopping again,” Rotmeyer says.
Work area: the play and work area features a rug by Circleworks for JAR Design and an array of clocks from Flea + Cents, Aluminium, G.O.D, Homeless, Mr Blacksmith, Museumpark, Tequila Kola, Ikea and Shambala. The desk moved with the family from Tokyo to Hong Kong and was from Bisley (www.bisley.co.jp/shop ).
Piano room: previously just a “pass-through” area next to the entrance, this room is now an inviting reception area with a grand piano, above which is a mobile handmade by Circleworks for JAR Design. Also by Circleworks is the carpet made by Le Carpet Studio (26/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2525 2338). The painting, titled Le Premier Berger, by Pamphyle, came from New Gallery on Old Bailey (17 Old Bailey Street, Central, tel: 2234 9889). The B&B Italia furniture was bought from a friend of the Tokoyodas.
Guest room: the bed was moved to Hong Kong from Idee in Tokyo (www.idee.co.jp ). The painting, by Eric Chan, came from Gajah Gallery in Singapore (www.gajahgallery.com ). The bedside lamps were from Shambala (2/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2555 2997). The 1950s bronze and glass pendant lamp was from Artek (12/F, Horizon Plaza, tel: 2515 2333). The bedside tables were from Bo Concept in Tokyo (www.boconcept.com ) and were shipped from the Tokoyodas’ previous home.
Colour trick JAR Design often uses a contrasting paint strip to highlight a light fixture. The ploy helps to distract the focus of the eye from lights that are off-centre.