Home shoots often begin with a flurry of activity. Rooms are straightened, tables set, cushions plumped and the unsightly carted away. Only when everything is just so, and foreheads are mopped, do our interviewees disappear to ready themselves for the camera.
Not Manix Wong Ping-tao. We arrive at his newly decorated, 500 sq ft rental apartment in Tseung Kwan O to find music burbling in the background and every room picture perfect. Not only that but, attired in a bright blue suit and yellow tee, he perfectly matches his furniture. Or vice versa.
That was probably to be expected. Wong, a Hong Kong-born, Paris-based menswear designer with his own brand, Laclos, knows better than most how to create a look. What is perhaps surprising is that he trusted someone else to pull together colours and textures throughout his two-bedroom flat: pink, orange, yellow, taupe and two shades of blue ensure the interiors pop, alongside metallics, marble, wood and felt.
“I wanted it to be unexpected,” Wong says, explaining he didn’t want the palette to be predictable or necessarily “his” colours. So he enlisted designers Vince Lim Chin-hwa and Elaine Manzi Lu, the husband-and-wife team behind Lim + Lu. Wong had met the pair in his capacity as Hong Kong director of Maison & Objet, when they won the Rising Asian Talent award at the lifestyle trade show last year. When Wong visited the couple’s Happy Valley home, an elegant-yet-hip space of pastel-meets-glossy hues, he says, “I loved it; they were so different from other designers in Hong Kong.”
Last year, when Wong decided to move to Tseung Kwan O (he splits his time between Hong Kong and Paris, where he has lived since 1999), he asked for their help.
“He was quite specific about what he liked, and very opinionated about what he didn’t like, so we had a pretty good idea to begin with,” Lu says.
“I like contrasting materials and colours,” Wong offers. “I said, ‘Just go for the most exciting combinations.’ When I come back here for half the year I want to think, ‘WOW!’”
Wong also wanted a heavy dose of romance and a lick of luxury, which his designers offered in spades. Gold burnishes the surfaces of everything from table legs to cupboard doors, plant pots and cutlery.
“Gold is a challenging material to use but I wanted luxury, in a contemporary way,” Wong says. “Here, gold is mixed with dark wood and the lines are clean. It’s not like Louis Quatorze.”
Wong’s apartment is also distinctive in its layout. This being a new rental unit, repairs were unnecessary, but neither could walls come down. So the second bedroom is used as a walk-in wardrobe and the living spaces have been reversed: the lounge is by the main door and dining table next to the balcony.
“I love cooking and I wanted to have a nice environment for dinner,” he says. “A lot of Hong Kong people like to watch TV while having dinner but I don’t want the conversation to be interrupted. I want to concentrate on friends, food and wine.”
To that end, Lim + Lu designed a table large enough for parties of 10. Beside it the bespoke sideboard accommodates audio equipment, candles and other handsome accessories; and by the main door a matching cupboard houses shoes. The gold panels on these pieces reflect light and enhance the sense of space; they also emit a lustrous glow, which sits well with the mood lighting Wong requested. Specifically, he did not want to see bare light bulbs.
“My design philosophy is all about details, quality and finish,” Wong says, explaining that he expected the same from his home interiors.
And when presented with furniture (or clothing) choices, he says, he asks himself only one question: “Would I have liked it 20 years ago?” If the answer is “yes”, he says, it’ll be good for another two decades. Which, of course, gives fashion a whole new meaning.
The effect nevertheless is wow.
Sitting area The floor lamp (€1,950/US$2,403) from Pulpo casts a warm glow over the sitting area, which is furnished with a yellow sofa (HK$13,000), blue armchair (HK$11,000) and coffee table (HK$5,650), all from Uni Space (719 Sungang Art Design Center, Meiyuan Road, Lo Wu, Shenzhen, 86 755 2227 0333)
Dining area Lim + Lu designed the dining table (HK$28,000) and sideboard (HK$18,000) with brass-finish stainless steel and smoked glass. The pendant lights (€407/US$501 each) came from Flos and the bench (HK$6,500) and chairs (HK$2,880 each) from Uni Space.
The table lamp was from a shop in Shenzhen. The egg-shaped cutlery set (€1,100/US$1,355), with storage capsule, was from Christofle. The candelabra (€185/US$228), by Jaime Hayon, came from Fritz Hansen.
Corridor Manix Wong wanted bright colours in the living areas and a calmer hue for sleep, so walls painted in Pink Buff lead into a South Seas blue corridor and, finally, a Lakemont Blue bedroom. The paint came from Dulux.
Bedroom Instead of crowding the room with a wardrobe, with a bed pushed against a wall, Wong asked for the largest possible bed flanked by bedside tables. The bed (HK$10,000) was designed by Lim + Lu, as were the bedside tables (HK$3,800 each) and desk (HK$8,000). The bedside lamps came from a shop in Shenzhen.
Tried + tested
Seat plan It makes sense to have multifunctional furniture in small spaces, although it can be difficult to find stylish pieces that are also affordable. The yellow sofa (HK$13,000), sourced by Lim + Lu, offers a neat shoe bench-cum-side table. It came from Uni Space in Shenzhen.