Exact science

Sharon Leece

Minimalism might seem easy to achieve but the pared-down look requires skill, patience and, most of all, precision.

Hip living in the heart of the city takes on an original dimension in this edgy urban home. Architect and interior designer Darryl W. Goveas, of Pure Creative International (tel: 2522 9006), has created a home that is a clever blend of warmth, minimalism, comfort and luxury.

During the day, the light-filled 1,200 sq ft apartment on Kennedy Road is calm and cool, with an emphasis on clean lines and pared-down shapes. At night, the rich wenge wood, red-lacquer panels and subtle lighting come into their own to create a cosy space.

To create such a bold statement, Goveas used a palette of three core colours: 'Here, white, brown and red are clean yet dramatic,' he explains. He also removed non-essential walls to create a seamless flow between the rooms, with a large living space comprising a lounge area and dining room, plus one bedroom and an office. He enclosed the balcony and pushed the kitchen back to extend the space.

Each room interlocks with the next and the use of reflective stainless-steel panels to surround door frames, ceiling beams and spines of the walls adds a lightness and airiness. This technique also helps to make them seem bigger by drawing the eye onwards. 'Each room has its own contrast in terms of colours and materials so your eye sees different perspectives,' says Goveas.

The principles of high-end retail design have been incorporated throughout; seamlessly finished floor-to-ceiling built-in cabinets with slim-front panels provide abundant storage space. Custom making the units also enabled Goveas to attain a high level of quality. 'All the lacquer cabinetry was built off site and mounted here. You could not achieve this quality otherwise,' he says, gesturing to the shiny red-lacquer panelling; 20 coats of paint were needed to achieve the high-quality finish.

The look is not dissimilar to that of a hotel suite. Says Goveas: 'I like things clean and tidy and tend not to keep much junk. I have a busy life, so when I come home I like to be at peace.' Even the bedroom and office are geared towards hotel-style living and Goveas spent a lot of time sourcing the right mattress, pillows and even black-out curtains to ensure maximum comfort.

Goveas also likes to use his home as a testing ground for new ideas, with pieces of furniture from some of his projects scattered around. There is a plush chair used for a Christian Dior retail project in the bedroom; a modern leather stool from defunct bar Alibi in the living room and a tartan chair, also designed for Dior, in the dining room. These are mixed with transparent chairs by Philippe Starck, a polypropylene Marset Camp lamp by Jakob Timpe plus pieces custom made to Goveas' designs.

In contrast to the minimal backdrop, Goveas incorporated classic elegance in the dining room by cladding the rear wall with patterned wallpaper. 'I wanted something that was different and a bit more traditional here. You see this kind of wallpaper in old hotels and it gives a good contrast between the new and the old, the classic and the modern.'

The end result is stunning, with a visual simplicity that belies the amount of work that went into the home. 'Simple is difficult. Doing things simply takes a lot of detailing and aligning,' explains Goveas. 'You have to be very precise.'

1 Stainless-steel cladding on the entrance to the dining room helps to hide thick concrete columns and to provide an airy, reflective atmosphere. The bookshelves have also been clad in stainless steel to bounce more reflections around the room. The oversized red sofa and ottoman were custom designed by Darryl Goveas (tel: 2522 9006), as was the white lacquer-topped low-level coffee table. The Adorable Floor Light (to the left) cost $5,840 from Desideri (6/F, Tak House, 5 Stanley Street, Central, tel: 2950 4026;; the adjustable polypropylene Marset Camp lamp (right) by Jakob Timpe cost $4,300 from Cefion Lighting (418 Jaffe Road, Wan Chai, tel: 3580 0988). On the solid wenge-wood floor is a custom-designed carpet ($8,000, Yong Lun Carpets, shop 11E, Kwai Fong Building, 196 Hing Fong Road, Kwai Chung, tel: 2480 3880).
2 Classic-look wallpaper (from Kinsan, 59 Wyndham Street, Central, tel: 2526 2309; was used to add colour and a pattern to the dining room. The circular dining table was custom designed by Goveas, who also designed the white chair with checked fabric for a Christian Dior retail project. The transparent red Eros chair was designed by Philippe Starck for Kartell and cost $5,900 from Flos (shop A, Winway Building, 50 Wellington Street, Central, tel: 2801 7608; Above the table hangs a semi-circular Sonara 490 pendant light by Vico Magistretti ($8,990 from Desideri). Solid wenge wood covers the floor.

3 In the living room, a huge glass window helps to create a loft-like feeling during the day and provides panoramic views of the city lights at night. Sheer drapes offer an aura of privacy. Goveas custom designed the white-lacquer and stainless-steel TV and audio unit; the black Aeron chair, $7,300, is from Frontier (11/F, Luk Kwok Centre, 72 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2865 0377.

4 To create a series of different perspectives that draws the eye inwards, Goveas used wenge wood and stainless steel on either side of an open doorway that leads to a corridor clad in red lacquer. Off the corridor is a study, a guest bathroom and the master bedroom.

5 The user-friendly kitchen is kitted out with white-lacquer cabinetry with reflective stainless-steel trim, all custom designed by Goveas. Green wall tiles add a feeling of freshness to the space.

6 A sliding door, finished with red lacquer, allows flexibility; the kitchen can be open when entertaining or closed from the living room to seal in cooking aromas.

7 The master bedroom is dressed in luxurious neutral tones. A copious amount of built-in, floor-to-ceiling cabinetry clad in contrasting veneer and wenge wood with a stainless-steel trim provides ample room for storage. All cabinetry was custom built by Pure Creative International (tel: 2522 9006). The chair was custom designed by Goveas for a retail project for Christian Dior; the shoes are from On Pedder (Wheelock House, 20 Pedder Street, Central, tel: 2118 3388).

8 The recessed shelving, with a white-lacquer background and stainless-steel trim, proves a glamorous contrast to the bedroom walls, which are covered in metallic wallpaper.

tried & tested

the whiting on the wall

Darryl Goveas added edge to the living room by incorporating unusual elements such as this white-lacquer wall, which has been pitted with lots of small indented circles, like the surface of a golf ball. 'I wanted something unusual, something a bit young,' he says. The circles draw the eye along the wall and make a strong contrast with the rich, brown wenge wood and red-lacquer panelling used elsewhere in the apartment. They also give movement to the space. During the day, the brightness of the wall helps make the space seem clean; at night, the lacquer bounces the light from inside and out.

Styling: Esther van Wijck