If ever there were a designer who knew his way around a curve it was 20th-century Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. The softer face of modernism, he is perhaps best known for his sensuous glass vases, wavy wooden screens, and undulating walls and ceilings. Never one to use a straight line when a curved one would do, Aalto was the inspiration for Bean Buro’s design of this 2,080 sq ft, four-bedroom, two-bathroom flat in Pok Fu Lam.
The main organising feature in its living spaces is a sinuous Aalto-style grey-green curved timber wall, which snakes from the balcony through the lounge, dining area and the length of the kitchen. Along the way, it is punctuated by the entrance foyer, a display alcove – backed by its own integrated Aalto curve in white marble – kitchen worktops and plenty of hidden storage, including a walk-in shoe cupboard.
“The clients [William and Cordelia Black and their two children, aged three and two] wanted no sharp edges. The wall is child-friendly and also makes the space continuous – the curves give a rhythm to the space,” says Bean Buro’s senior interior designer, Pauline Paradis.
More curves appear throughout the apartment in the contours of the ceilings, round-cornered wardrobes and mirrors, and circular doorknobs. Also uniting the scheme is a monochrome palette of soft grey and white, with black metal details, all in hard-wearing, childproof materials.
“Our previous apartment was all black – it was originally my bachelor pad – and I wanted to do the same again, but this time my wife insisted the black be kept to a minimum,” says William Black (not his real name).
While the size of the 40-year-old apartment was important, the couple say they chose it for “the sea view and the fresh air”, and because they were familiar with the building: William’s godmother has lived in the block for years. As the apartment had barely been touched since it was built, they had no hesitation in stripping it back to its bare bones and starting again.
They began the process by drawing up a list of potential interior designers, culled mainly from magazine articles, and began interviewing. “We found Bean Buro in Wallpaper* magazine and they were the first designers we saw. After we met, we threw the list away and cancelled the rest of the appointments,” William says.
Structural walls defined the size of the living space, and the building ordinance meant there could be no alteration to the exterior, but elsewhere Bean Buro had free rein. The bedrooms, in particular, offered an opportunity for thinking out of the box. Bean Buro maximised the children’s rooms by placing them opposite each other on either side of a central corridor. Wall-sized folding doors to each room can be fully opened to encompass the corridor and turn the entire space into one large playroom. At night, the doors can be pulled shut to create two separate rooms.
“The wardrobes are the only built-in furniture – all the rest are individual pieces that can be changed out as the children grow,” Paradis says. The monochrome colour palette also helps with future proofing: there are no pink and blue stereotypes here.
Another flexible space is the guest room, which doubles as a yoga studio – Cordelia is an instructor. It has a pull-down bed and a wall of mirrors, strengthened to support headstands, and even a bar for pull-ups (“I’ve only used it a couple of times,” William confesses.).
As well as flexible spaces, dots and curved lines, another recurring Bean Buro feature is a notch detail. It pops up twice in the master en-suite, in the black-metal frames of the door and mirror. In line with the apartment’s materials palette, the bathroom walls are encased in white marble accented with black accessories: heated towel rails, mirror frame, taps and shower.
But it’s the considered details that elevate the space, including an extra-wide lip on the bath, providing a comfortable seat for mum or dad while they supervise bath time for their little ones, and gradient film on the glass bathroom door to provide privacy while allowing daylight in.
In the master bedroom, curves are a defining feature of the en-suite door, the matching dressing-room mirror and the headboard, an upholstered half wall that curls around the bed in a cosy embrace. It is topped with black-framed glass, which neatly separates the bed and the dressing area while preserving a feeling of space and emphasising the curvature of the ceiling. No doubt Aalto would have approved.
Living area Custom made in lacquered wood veneer, the Alvar Aalto-inspired curved wall conceals storage cupboards and a walk-in wardrobe. Both the wall (about HK$150,000/US$19,000) and stainless-steel floating shelf (about HK$11,000) were designed and built by Bean Buro.
The Hampton sofa was HK$67,215 from BoConcept. The Moor rug by &Tradition (£1,925/US$2,400) and Rope Trick floor lamp by Hay (£365) were from Nest. The coffee table and the Eames Lounge Chair and ottoman came from the Blacks’ previous apartment. The canvases on the floating shelf show Bean Buro projects and research.
Kitchen Kitchen specialist Kitench built the bespoke cabinetry (HK$499,500) and supplied the TechniStone countertop (HK$32,400) and Blanco sink (HK$6,400).
Dining area and entrance The extruded metal-and-oak Monarch dining table (US$1,800) is by Goldsworthy Studio. The dining chairs (About A Chair by Hay, £365 each) and marble pendant lights (Material by New Works, £171 each) were from Nest. The marble foyer and seat (total HK$70,000) and marble display alcove (HK$40,000) were custom made by Bean Buro.
Main bedroom A black-framed glass partition above the headboard in the main bedroom maintains a feeling of space while neatly separating the bed and dressing area.
The custom-made bed with built-in storage (HK$18,000), bedside tables (HK$10,400), headboard and glass partition (total HK$50,000), glass bathroom door (HK$19,500) and dressing-room mirror (HK$3,250) are all by Bean Buro. The black marble Material pendant lamps (£171 each) are by New Works from Nest.
Main bedroom detail A random scattering of black metal Dots coat hooks by Muuto (£54 for a set of five, from Nest) stud the custom-made lacquered wood veneer wardrobes. The bespoke wardrobes (HK$73,000) and dressing table (HK$6,000) are both by Bean Buro.
The Flip mirror (US$125), by Javier Moreno Studio, comes from Normann Copenhagen. The Eames ottoman is the same as before.
En-suite bathroom The Bean notch detail appears in both the bathroom mirror and drawers in the luxurious marble-clad en suite. Bean Buro’s contractor sourced and installed the marble wall tiles (total about HK$300,000), and custom made the sink and drawer cabinet (total HK$50,000) and mirror (HK$21,000).
The heated towel rails by Vola (HK$35,904), and tap (HK$8,112) and shower (HK$19,120), both by Bongio, all came from Ebon.
Children’s rooms With the children’s bedroom doors folded open, the curves of the ceiling and matching wardrobes become more apparent. The wardrobes (total HK$86,000) were custom made by Bean Buro and scattered with Muuto Dots hooks. The River twin bed, in birch (HK$6,800), is by Oeuf from Petit Bazaar.
Child’s bedroom The children’s bedrooms are mirror images of each other and positioned either side of the central corridor with folding doors that allow them to be combined into one large play area. The mini library shelf (HK$8,500) and Brooklyn desk (HK$6,980) are both by Oeuf from Petit Bazaar. The chair is About A Chair by Hay (£365) from Nest.
Tried + tested
The glass and black-metal sliding kitchen door is a sleek piece of design. An integrated handle allows it to slide neatly away when not in use and the tinted glass has just enough transparency to show the length of the curved wall during the day but is dark enough to allow the Blacks to hide the kitchen at night, when they have guests.
“The glass looks black at night and, unless there’s a light on in the kitchen, it’s hard to see through, so it hides any mess,” says Pauline Paradis, Bean Buro’s senior interior designer.
The door was designed and custom built by Bean Buro for about HK$20,000.