If you write the first letter of hoo in upper case, you miss the point, says the founder of the design studio, Chen Yu Chang. The lower-case "h" resembles a chair - and its significance is revealed upon entering the Pok Fu Lam home of Chen, his wife, Kennie, and their three-year-old son, Jami.
Chen is a chair fanatic. And that's not all.
"I'm a bit OCD [obsessive-compulsive disorder]," he says, with a laugh, admitting he is also partial to collecting bears.
Luckily, it's a useful habit when one heads up a design firm focused on residential interiors that includes at least one statement piece of furnishing in each project.
In his own home, Chen's statements - dining chairs - are grouped around a long wooden table in the open-plan living/dining area: some are old (vintage fibreglass and wire Eames chairs) and some are new (a CH24 Wishbone chair by Hans Wegner and a 109 chair by Finn Juhl). On the day of our visit, even Jami's blond-wood highchair has a place in the set: from American brand OXO, it balances well its function (to serve messy young eaters) with grown-up design sensibilities.
The couple decided to live in Pok Fu Lam because of its peaceful ambience. They chose their flat for its efficiency - of the 1,020 sq ft gross floor area, 906 square feet was usable - and green view of the mountain behind.
The apartment was dated and depressing when Chen found it early last year, but he knew it had potential; all but one of the internal walls could be removed.
"Do you know, I'm not actually a designer?" Chen says, as he shows off the unit post-renovation.
After his parents thwarted his plans to study interior design, Chen went into advertising. Today the self-described home stylist is the creative brain behind the business he established in 2009; a team of trained designers "takes care of the technical stuff".
Chen's penchant for a palette of black, white and gold comes in subtle, sometimes "barely there" variants, adding intrigue, without a hint of bling. He's also a huge fan of Scandinavian design - a theme evident throughout all of hoo's projects - because he believes it provides a tidy yet "human" living environment.
Chen approached the renovation with child safety in mind. Apart from one unavoidable corner of the kitchen benchtop, there are no sharp edges and no exposed cords, and the television is fixed onto a "hanging wall" that was the result of a design experiment (see Tried + tested).
Floors are finished in a soft grey (timber in the living and sleeping zones; stone in the wet areas) and the white walls are offset by an occasional slate grey panel and a bank of jet-black, floor-to-ceiling cupboards storing Chen's collection of about 50 pairs of trainers.
Chen also plays with shapes: there are subway tiles in the kitchen and hexagonal ones in the bathroom, and a herringbone pattern on the floor.
"I like to mix it up," he says.
The realignment of rooms enabled a large master bedroom with a walk-in wardrobe the size of many kids' bedrooms. In addition to the couple's clothes, the space accommodates one of two leather-upholstered Eames armchairs (the other being in the living room) and some of Chen's Kaws Bearbricks collection. The en-suite bathroom has a luxurious feel, with a whole wall of bench-height fitted cupboards providing the kind of storage rarely found in a Hong Kong flat.
Against this backdrop, almost everything bears a designer's name: lamps, side tables and accessories. Even Jami's room has the designer touch, plus a rare splash of colour and a toy cabinet built by Chen.
The original walls were not straight enough for Chen's liking, so he had them resurfaced with gypsum, and all the fixed lighting neatly concealed.
Chen had wanted to try out ideas that a client's budget might not allow - and the investment has paid off, with a family home that has pleasant surprises at every turn.
Dining area The CH327 dining table (HK$43,000) was a 100th anniversary edition by Carl Hansen & Son and came from Manks (3/F, The Factory, 1 Yip Fat Street, Wong Chuk Hang, tel: 2522 2115). The chairs are (clockwise from left): a Finn Juhl 109 (HK$20,000; finnjuhl.com); two Vitra Eames chairs (HK$8,000 each; vitra.com); a CH24 Wishbone chair by Hans Wegner for Carl Hansen & Son (HK$10,000, from Manks); and two Herman Miller fibreglass vintage Eames chairs bought years ago. The trio of pendant lamps (about HK$10,000 each) came from ClassiCon (classicon.com). The art on the wall is by Georgiana Paraschiv.
Living room The sofa (about HK$90,000), by Living Divani (livingdivani.it), was ordered from Italy. The side table (HK$8,000) is by Daniel Schofield Studio and was purchased at Lane Crawford. The &Tradition coffee table (HK$15,000) came from Amelie & Tulips (56 Sai Street, Sheung Wan tel: 2291 0005) and the rug (HK$10,000) from the HAY flagship store in Shanghai (www.hay.dk).
Jami’s room The red car was a first birthday gift for Jami from friends of the couple. The toy cabinet (HK$10,000) is from the custom-designed collection at hoo (33/F, Southmark, 11 Yip Hing Street, Wong Chuk Hang, tel: 2979 0600; www.hoo-residence.com). The Tolomeo table lamp (HK$2,500) came from Artemide (1/F, Ruttonjee Centre, 11 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2523 0333).
Master suite (above and below) The Gray & Turner side table (HK$9,800) came from Lane Crawford. The pendant lamp (HK$4,000) came from Australian lighting studio Inkster Maken (www.inkstermaken.com). The herringbone-patterned wooden flooring has been interspersed with marble sections for contrast. The Buster + Punch wall lamp (HK$3,500) came from Homeless (www.homeless.hk). The Bowers & Wilkins speaker was a gift.
Guest bathroom The black and white hexagonal tiles (about HK$30 per square foot) came from Hop Hing Lung Material (235 Lockhart Road, tel: 2511 3013). The Zucchetti tap set (HK$8,000) came from Arnhold & Co (6/F, Victoria Centre, 15 Watson Road, North Point, tel: 2807 9400).
Kitchen The streamlined kitchen, which features timber veneer cabinetry and a Technistone countertop, was custom made by hoo’s contracting team for HK$100,000.
Left hanging The "hanging wall" in the living room is reinforced on the inside with steel bars affixed to the ceiling and suspended above two crystal-glass cabinets. The one facing the dining room was intended as a sand garden but homeowner Chen Yu Chang couldn't find quite what he wanted. Instead it holds part of his collection of 65 Kaws Bearbricks, by Brian Donnelly, an American designer of limited-edition toys and clothing. The other cabinet holds Chen's collection of miniature designer chairs.