One of the benefits of a love of travel is that you pick up interesting things along the way.
For Nicole Andrianjaka de Surville and her husband, who between them have lived in France, Germany, China, Luxembourg, Thailand and Singapore, this has resulted in an eclectic home that reflects their global adventures, creative inspiration and life in Hong Kong with their three children Zoe (16), Lilou (14) and Maya (13).
The couple met and married in Hong Kong 20 years ago. For the past 14 years, home has been a four-bedroom, 2,500-sq-ft apartment in a low-rise 1970s building perched on a hillside above Stanley.
“It is old and some of the finishes are a bit creaky, but the place has a feeling of a time when flats were conceived to give their occupants a sense of being at home, not in a transient place that looks like so many other ones,” says Andrianjaka de Surville.
The apartment’s light-filled interiors feature separate living, dining and entrance spaces arranged around an open-air central garden courtyard that comes with an elegant spiral steel staircase leading to a rooftop terrace. On weekends, the family retreats there to barbecue, curl up on outdoor sofas and enjoy the spectacular sea view.
Inside, the interiors are steeped in nostalgic charm with a mixture of high and low, and clean modern lines with mid-century furnishings offset by walls and curtains in unconventional bold hues.
“Our home reflects how we like to embrace life: we are not trying to make things match and there is no planning or designing for how it should all look,” says Andrianjaka de Surville. “We just naturally enjoy spending time travelling and discovering things and like to live with things that we love.”
One of the ways to ensure a rental property feels more like a permanent home is to invest in painting walls and hanging artwork, she says. The entrance is a telling snapshot of her idiosyncratic style, with a piece of an aircraft fuselage that was found at a Paris flea market hanging above a contemporary Chinese painting.
Meanwhile, in the airy dining room, a vintage PH5 lamp, also found at a Parisian flea market, sits beside a school recycling project that resulted in a cow sculpture comprising plastic containers.
“So many flats in Hong Kong come with plain white walls and they look very cold so to warm them up I add colours. I have always had colours; even my student flat in Paris was painted a warm yellow,” she says.
It helps, perhaps, to share what may be a hereditary predilection: “My husband is French and has a French father and an Italian mum from Egypt, while my own father was from Madagascar and my mother was German, and I was born in Berlin,” says Andrianjaka de Surville.
“It’s probably why we have such a mix of historic periods and styles. Even my collection of blue vases ranges from exquisite ones in fine glass to Japanese handmade ceramics and Ikea mass production ones. Each is either a place, a journey, a moment or a person.”
This passion for discovery has helped drive Andrianjaka de Surville’s career. She worked in the silk division of Hermès and was an adviser to a French trend agency before starting her own business in 2015, Zolima CityMag. The online travel and lifestyle publication is built around the idea of sharing the hidden gems, stories and creative cultures that cities offer the modern-day flâneur. The first city to be featured is Hong Kong.
“Travel is wonderful but you don’t need to leave your own city to be curious and creative, or to find hidden treasures that help define your own unique style,” she says. “I love to travel but our home is where I really like to spend time.”
Living room The matching sofa, armchair and ottoman were made in Hong Kong years ago using fabric bought in Paris. The leather armchair is by Rolf Benz. The standing lamp next to the leather armchair and the collection of wooden side tables were bought years ago in Paris. The Arne Jacobsen-designed red standing lamp (HK$3,600) was found at Manks while the large white-paper standing lamp and the Afghan rugs came from Hong Kong shops that have since closed.
Living room detail The artwork, by Shui Mei, and 18th-century console were from Schoeni. The Artemide floor lamps on either side of the console were bought from a shop that has since closed. Atop the console is a trio of Madagascan wooden sculptures and two 18th-century blue ceramic jars that were found at a Beijing antique market during the early 1990s. The trestle table was bought years ago in Paris.
Entrance The painting is by Chen Yu. Above is a Boeing 707 fuselage panel found in a flea market in Paris. The standing lamp is made from glass and steel reclaimed from a 1930s cruise ship (www.1930artdeco.net). The Burmese table and chairs were found at an antiques store in Singapore.
Dining area The dining table cost about HK$20,000 from Manks while the workshop chairs and penguin sculptures were bought at a flea market in Paris. The Henning Koppel-designed jug (HK$2,100) and Cobra candleholders (HK$450 each) are available at www.georgjensen.com while the pair of Ripple cups (HK$600) came from Latitude22n. The 19th-century Chinese spindle cabinet was from Schoeni while the framed artwork and the round floor lamp were gifts.
Master bedroom The rice paper Hong Zhu An artwork behind the bed and Shui Mei painting on the wall were bought from a gallery that has since closed. The bedside tables and lamp were bought years ago. The Chinese mirror vanity set from the 1930s (just seen to the left) was picked up in a Beijing market in the 1990s.
Hall Nicole Andrianjaka de Surville bought the Erte lithography in Berlin, Germany, while studying in Paris. The other prints were bought in a flea market in Paris. The small chair made of recycled paper was coloured by the couple’s three daughters when they were very young.
Hall Andrianjaka de Surville covered the console with newspaper. The Poul Henningsen-designed PH ¾ lamp was found in a second-hand shop in the Marais district of Paris. The blue vase is part of a collection of similarly hued glassware accrued over the years. The curvaceous silver candlestick holders cost HK$240 each at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (store.moma.org). The set of six Buddha artworks are by Andrew Wellman and was found at a gallery in Seminyak, Bali, and the fan was bought in Singapore years ago.
TRIED + TESTED
Hanging out A simple set of wire and clips from Ikea transforms each of the children’s rooms into a gallery-like space by providing an easy-to-use picture “rail” on which to hang their paintings and favourite images.