IT took six men with the skills of a crack tactical unit to bring in what looked like a curvy sarcophagus. ''Marvellous, isn't it?'' Paul Greenhagh enthused as the prostate-threatening Antique of the Future was deposited in the middle of Pearl Lam's living room. Closer inspection revealed that it was a chest of drawers fashioned from wood surfaced with a sort of mottled granite. Perfect for what Mr Greenhagh (''an old Anglo-Saxon name pronounced Greenharzs'') calls the international cognoscenti. Locally, this translates into a more familiar species. ''All the big socialites will be along for Pearl's opening on Friday,'' a member of the elite assured. By Wednesday, the excitement had already reached desperate proportions over at the three-storey house in Jardine's Lookout. So had the chaos. ''It could only happen in Hongkong,'' said Susan Digby looking as immaculate as ever, if a teensy frazzled, as an army of workmen toiled to meet the deadline for the mega event. A slick brochure containing an invitation had already alerted all the right people. ''Miss Pearl Lam and Mr Joseph Fung invite you to the opening of an exhibition of Contemporary Furniture presented by Contrasts Gallery.'' Paul Greenhagh and Susan Digby are its co-directors. He was the decorative arts man for Christie's, London, before they teamed up. She, of course, is the enviably rich, beautiful, musically-gifted wife of Henry, born to be the 6th Baron Digby and custodian of a stately house in Dorset, England. ''I've decided Hongkong is the perfect society,'' sighed the former presenter of ATV's Art World Presents, who moved to London with her family last March. The exile has ended - at least in a temporary way thanks to Contrasts Gallery. Ingenious is the only word for the joint venture aimed at bringing enlightenment to the rich, famous and truly house-proud of Hongkong. Its modus operandi is breathtakingly simple. Periodically, a home will be selected and given over to an exhibition and sale of contemporary furniture and decorative objects created by leading designers. How the home of Ms Lam, erstwhile fashion boutique owner and now China trader, came to be chosen for the inaugural honour will come as no surprise to those familiar with the networking of the international cognoscenti. ''Pearl - who incidentally, introduced me to Susan - has a place in London for which we were giving her some advice and since she was about to redecorate her Hongkong home, it seemed the perfect venue.'' Paul Greenhagh explained. Perfection has its price. ''No pictures of me, please,'' said a wild-eyed Ms Lam, as the mayhem gathered impetus. In the congested driveway, white paint was being slapped on at breakneck speed. Inside, it was standing room only as the exhibits rapidly took over every inch of plastic-covered cream carpet. In the tiny garden, clods of earth flew as flowering plants were relieved of their pots. ''I'm only Pearl's lackey,'' a dapper little man protested rather forlornly. It turned out to be her architect, Joseph Fung. ''I was so thrilled it was Joseph. He has the most wonderful taste,'' said Susan Digby, feasting her eyes on the neo-classical splendours which are providing the setting for some 60 exhibits ranging in price from GBP1,000 (HK$12,000) to GBP30,000 with ''lots of little things'' going for a mere GBP50 or so. ''We're absolutely bending over backwards to keep prices in line with those in England and I do think our concept will go down well here. ''I know the Chinese taste - very romantic and dramatic - and the timing is perfect because people are starting to entertain at home.'' Definitely not among the bargains at the exhibition which continues till next Friday - ''by appointment only, but that's mostly because we can't have the doors open all the time'' - is Patrice Henri Butler's fantasy chandelier fashioned from gold-plated metal, Venetian glass lozenges, gold-threaded beads, assorted crystals and various other hand-crafted baubles. The architect-turned-lighting fixtures designer whose clients include the Duke of Westminster and Mick Jagger is typical of the talent brought to Hongkong by Contrasts Gallery: almost all young, British and lionised by the loaded. The wealthy and discriminating, stresses the former Christie's man whose key attractions also include furniture by Nick Allen, Scott Cunningham, Danny Lane and the self-taught designers' designer - as in Gaultier, Westwood, Lauren et al - Tom Dixon. ''The object of the exhibition is to show that quality contemporary furniture is not only beautiful and eye-catching, but functional, versatile and very collectable. ''They really are the antiques of the future; pieces of art with universal appeal which are certain to appreciate in value - unlike that chair you're sitting in. It probably cost about ?1,500 and you'd be lucky to get ?200 for it now.'' The offending chair, in a room on the still-to-be-transformed first floor of the Lam residence, is one of those big, comfy leather jobs synonymous with Hongkong's upwardly mobile. It goes rather nicely with Pearl's childhood memorabilia - some vintage copies of Enid Blyton and Nancy Drew - though she will probably have to ditch it if she is to live up to her new role. ''As a client of these new designers, you almost become an art patron,'' Susan Digby said. The musicologist who was recently awarded a Churchill Fellowship is well on the way to becoming one herself. For Mrs Digby has another exciting new project, tentatively called the Young Voices Foundation. ''The aim is to give every British child - regardless of background - a musical education through choral activity and I believe the fastest route to achieving that, is through teachers.'' Even faster is through roping in the right people at the start. Heading the invitation list for the April 21 launch of Young Voices are Michael Caine, Roger Moore and the Royal whose pronouncements on the arts are always assured of headlines. Who knows. Prince Charles might even be coaxed into ordering a chandelier.