After completing a preliminary site visit to a 1,600 sq ft, four-bedroom flat in Pok Fu Lam, Lorène Faure decided to go for a stroll. Just metres from the lobbies of large, luxury developments nearby, she spotted a small waterfall hidden in the shrubbery off the road. It came tumbling through the greenery, then trickled on towards the coast.
The waterfall stuck in Faure’s mind. On her next visit to the flat, she showed it to Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui, with whom she runs architecture and interior design studio Bean Buro.
“The waterfall was so interesting and beautiful,” Kinugasa-Tsui says. “We didn’t expect to find something like that in Pok Fu Lam. I hope it doesn’t sound too cheesy, but the idea of water and rock became the main element in this apartment for us.”
It helped that the ideas conjured up by the waterfall matched some of the guidelines suggested by the clients, new Hong Kong-Chinese parents who recently returned to the SAR from Britain, where the husband had been completing a PhD.
“There were all these keywords in the brief, like ‘calm’ and ‘tranquil’ and ‘fresh’,” Kinugasa-Tsui recalls. “And we could tell that the clients liked things minimalistic, with lots of white and blue.”
Inspired, Faure and Kinugasa-Tsui set to work. They moved walls to make the rooms more efficient and converted the fourth bedroom into a study, which was then connected to the main bedroom to create one large main suite. Throughout the flat, they used a palette of blues, greys and white, although it took a while to identify the exact shade of blue for the built-in cabinets in the living room and kitchen.
“There is so much blue here that comes from the surroundings because of the ocean and sky, so naturally the flat gets a bit of that hue,” Kinugasa-Tsui says. “We went through three stages with the supplier but we ended up with a greyish colour with a tint of blue that is subtle, soft and calming.”
The sea and waterfall also inspired Faure and Kinugasa-Tsui to create curved walls in the living room and main bedroom.
“The presumption when you work with big curves in an apartment in Hong Kong is that it’s going to be inefficient, but in this particular apartment it worked very well,” Kinugasa-Tsui says.
In the main bedroom, swooping curved walls conceal the en-suite bathroom and house built-in storage while creating a dramatic entrance to the master suite. The walls also fulfilled another aspect of the brief.
“As the couple have a young child who’s just starting to walk, we wanted to avoid sharp corners. The whole apartment needed to be child-friendly,” Faure says. “The floor, for example, is not wood – it’s ceramic tiles that mimic wood, so it’s easy to clean and maintain. We had to make sure the floor material would be durable and stand up to spills and children running around.”
In both the main bedroom and dining area, Faure and Kinugasa-Tsui clad feature walls in the same tiles as were used on the floor.
“We just wanted something simple,” Faure says. “We don’t like sticking lots of different materials together just for the sake of it.”
Rather than using wallpaper or paint in the central corridor, the pair covered the walls with lightweight concrete panels from French brand Concrete LCDA.
“In Hong Kong you see a lot of people overusing concrete panels, which can be cold and masculine,” Kinugasa-Tsui says. “But these have a soft, luxurious finish and pair well with the blue.”
Were there any other inspirations?
“The waterfall,” he says. “If the master bedroom and two other rooms are the blue, curvy volume, then these concrete panels are the rocky element that anchors everything.”
Living area The sofa (HK$39,000) and rug (HK$8,300), both by Muuto, were bought at Establo, which was also the source for the coffee table (HK$5,000) and armchair (HK$14,000), both by Normann Copenhagen. R&C Engineering (tel: 2606 3262) built the blue wall-length cabinet for HK$46,200. The grand piano is from the clients’ previous home in Hong Kong.
Dining area The wood-look tiles (HK$1,000 per square metre) on the floor and wall were from Quick Step Shop. The Estiluz light fixture (HK$21,300) was from Zodiac Lighting (zodiaclighting.com); the dining table (HK$51,500) from Zeitraum; and the Muuto dining chairs (HK$3,000 each) from Establo.
Kitchen The kitchen (HK$610,000) from Kitench is in the same blue as the rest of the flat. The Muuto pendant lights (HK$1,600 each) and Normann Copenhagen bar stools (HK$2,800 each) were from Establo.
Corridor An overhead strip light highlights the concrete panels (HK$850 per square metre) from Concrete LCDA on the right-hand wall in the hallway. The large wooden door handles (medium size, HK$290 each) are by Muuto and are available at Establo.
Main bedroom R&C Engineering custom made the bed (HK$9,500) and bedside tables (HK$9,000 for the pair). The Louis Poulsen-designed bedside lights (HK$3,400 each) were from Establo.
Main bedroom detail R&C Engineering installed two curved walls and a concealed swing door, which opens to the en-suite bathroom.
En-suite bathroom The mirrored cabinet (HK$6,900) was custom made by R&C Engineering, as was the basin cabinet with terrazzo countertop (HK$40,300 in total). The Axor shower (HK$13,400), Kaldewei bath (HK$26,800) and Duravit basin (HK$5,000) were from E.bon. The floor and wall tiles (HK$3,800 per square metre) came from Anta.
Tried + tested
Writing on the wall The client requested a whiteboard in his study, but Lorène Faure and Kenny Kinugasa-Tsui went one better and covered a wall in the spare bedroom with Ober Pure Paper (available in Hong Kong at CER), a laminate that is magnetic and can be written on with chalk and brushed clean.
“When people think of writable paint, it’s often glossy and office-looking; it doesn’t feel very home-y. But Ober’s products feel like paper; they have a matt finish and lovely colours,” Faure says. “Last time we came for dinner, the wall was full of research. It was very impressive. It was like something out of a film.”
But the product isn’t just for work. Faure and Kinugasa-Tsui also covered the walls in the baby’s room with magnetic Pure Paper rather than paint or conventional wallpaper, so his whole room is one big sketchbook.