What do Leonardo da Vinci, Issac Newton and Galileo Galilei have in common? They form part of a handful of men celebrated as the greatest Renaissance men of the past. The Renaissance men of today are equally dedicated to their art, creativity and skills.
With that in mind, STYLE teamed up with British designer Timothy Oulton to create a studio especially for the modern Renaissance man.
Oulton, who considers himself “an aspiring Renaissance man”, is always keen to try something new.
Something new and unexpected was certainly what Oulton and his team delivered.
“The idea was to transform an old, run down industrial building and breathe new life into it.”
Oulton and his team wanted to give new life to an old building by incorporating hi-tech and stylish furnishings and applications into the space. “Our design borrows ideas from the past, but we infuse them with our own unique, modern twist,” the designer says.
“We’ve kept the original elements to keep the authenticity and the original character of the space – the cement floors and walls, the exposed pipework in the ceiling – but added state-of-the-art technology and new, surprising design elements,” he explains.
From the outset, the team sought to create an enclave for the multidisciplinary gentlemen to truly hone their skills and creativity. To enter the studio, instead of simply stepping through a door, one must walk through a tunnel first.
Oulton cites this atypical entrance as one of his favourite parts of the studio.
“I love the tunnel entrance because it feels like you’re entering this whole new world that’s completely hidden from the outside.”
Better yet, the tunnel is also representative of Oulton’s poetic beliefs. “The past is set and is where all our knowledge progresses from. But step through the entrance [to the studio], through the tunnel which bridges the past and the present, [you] enter where the future is set.”
Inside, the studio is split into different sections. Stepping through the entrance, you are greeted by a sitting area and two workstations, each with its own industrial roll-up door and heavy duty steel platform.
The stations are large enough for “artworks, machinery or whatever our Renaissance man wishes to experiment with to satisfy his thirst for knowledge and creativity”.
The workstations are equipped with state-of-the-art computers, which are linked within the studio and also with the mainframe. This allows the work to be accessible wherever the owner is – whether in the studio or halfway across the world.
Towards the back of the space, there is a library and an archive room. A den sits next to the library and is designed to serve as an area for relaxation or for the modern-day Renaissance man to engage in inspiring conversations with his friends. A fully functional bar has been included in the den.
The den is another one of the designer’s favourite areas. He imagines it to be “somewhere you can unwind and interact with other people”.
For Oulton, this resonates with him and other aspiring Renaissance men.
“The best creative ideas often come from that down time when you’re just relaxing and letting your mind wander,” he says.
Secluded from the rest of the studio is a loft space above the den. The loft is fitted with a sound system which includes a turntable and tube amplifier which can be connected to any digital device owned by the modern Renaissance man.
To balance the exposed pipework and concrete elements of the space, Oulton and his team made sure to incorporate reclaimed wood in the space. These little touches can be found on the wall by the tunnel and the statement coffee table in the den.
The studio is furnished entirely with the designer’s own furniture collection, and one can easily see how the design matches the brand’s creative aesthetics.
The fusion of old and new is ingrained in the DNA of the brand and Oulton’s ultimate design philosophy.
For example, Oulton and his team chose to place the brand’s iconic Mars MK3 chairs in the studio. The chairs, which are a hybrid of art deco elegance and sleek masculinity, serve as a perfect bridge between the vintage elements and a futuristic outlook, and is a perfect reflection of the overall space.
79% CONSTRUCTION (INCLUDING MATERIALS): HK$12.4 MILLION
6% TECHNOLOGY (INCLUDING COMPUTER SCREENS, SOUND SYSTEMS, PROJECTORS AND LIGHTING):HK$930,590
6.5% ANTIQUES AND FURNISHINGS (INCLUDING BESPOKE DESIGN POD, BESPOKE BAR, BESPOKE SHELVING):HK$1.03 MILLION
0.1% ART (INCLUDING 007 MURAL): HK$19,390
8.4% CONSULTATION FEES (INCLUDING DESIGN FEES): HK$1.32 MILLION
TOTAL: ABOUT HK$15.7 MILLION
Timothy Oulton is the founder and creative director of his eponymous brand, which encompasses furniture, bedding, kitchen, lighting and accessories. Oulton’s pieces combine the best of traditional, authenticity with daring amounts of innovation in design. The designer blends traditional craftmanship with a modern point of view, combining the best of antiquities with innovative twists. Oulton has stores in Hong Kong, New York and Los Angeles, among other cities.
Illustrations: Timothy Oulton and his lead designer Michael Yeung
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