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Minimalist space with accent of homey comfort
By Yang Di

A calm vibe combined with an abundance of space and natural light make homeowner Winnie Wong's Hong Kong residence the perfect place for her family to unwind and relax, away from the hustle and bustle around them.

"We were looking for a spacious house with an open view. The view is particularly important," Wong said. The balcony overlooks the lush greenery of the sports grounds of one of Hong Kong's most famous boys' schools, LaSalle.

Space was also one of her criteria, so that Wong could work with the designer on tearing up the layout she inherited and recreating it the way she knew would suit her family.

"We love the layouts of all the rooms. It's defined and has four bedrooms, which we were looking for at the time," she said. The only thing she doesn't like about the house is the low ceiling, added Wong.

The 158-square-meter flat is situated in Beverly Villa, Kowloon Tong. In terms of interior design, Wong did her research for about a year and talked with several designers before making the final decision. "With designer Clifton Leung, the design process was a piece of cake. He and his team did the majority of the hard work and we were hassle-free," said Wong.

"We didn't have a specific style in mind. We just wanted a home that is warm and bright to make family gathering enjoyable. We also wanted ample space for our two daughters," Wong said.

With a design brief to minimize clutter and maximize space, the flat was designed in a minimalist style with clean lines and a simple color palette.

The white and light wood Leung used for the interior help encourage a tranquil state of mind. "It is an ideal color palette to create a relaxed environment removed from work. The piano in contrasting black is the perfect aesthetic addition," the designer said.

Application of an accent color in each bedroom adds a personal touch to the space, reflecting the distinctive character of individual family members.

One of the greatest challenges facing Leung was designing the hallway door that separating rooms on both sides.

"I nicknamed it as the 'magic door' which also acts as the cabinet door. The size of the door needed to be perfect to fit both functions," Leung said. It works both as a display cabinet door and divides the dining room and the bedrooms.

Transforming the multiple areas with trapezoid-shape layouts into individual aesthetic and functional spaces was another great challenge, said Leung.

The design of the living and dining room exhibits clean minimalist lines creating a breezy atmosphere and harmonious blend with the lush exterior views. Light streaming through creates an airy feel; the petit coffee table and contemporary curved sofa provide sensuous focal points, echoing the crescent balcony design.

White furniture with clean lines, coupled with light wood flooring, evoke a sense of serenity. The built-in aquarium at the entrance with blue lighting adds a vibrant touch to the overall ambiance.

The built-in kitchen appliances - sleek and clean - add to this harmonious overall look. The sense of simplicity is enhanced by a color palette of white and earth tones.

The subtle design of a stainless steel panel behind the ventilation fan adds a modern, chic touch to the cozy ambience, while functional at the same.

The round window on the kitchen door is a fun design touch to counterpoint prevailing minimalism.

Meanwhile, the master bedroom comes with an airy view. It features a cozy comfortable sofa, complemented by various details - including vibrant bed linen and flowers - to spice up the space.

"The two rooms for the girls have fresh and bright color schemes which evoke happy feelings," Leung said. Fun and quirky lights over the beds create an energized, creative space for the kids, while on a wall of the elder daughter's room is a painting by her art teacher.

"One of the highlights of the space is the trapezium-shaped floor-to-ceiling window at the balcony. As the apartment is blessed with a scenic view, this works perfectly to bring the outside in," Leung said. "Floor to ceiling windows are an increasingly popular trend in space design to capture views."

Wong requested a variety of lighting effects, including task lighting, general lighting and accent lighting to serve different purposes.

Accent lighting is applied to create a homier feel.

Elegantly hanging over the dining table, a pendent lamp serves as an vivid addition to the overall environment.

Most furniture was built in to help save space. Wong said the piece that they enjoy most is the dining table. It's a round table that can seat five but if the family need more seating, it can be extended into a table for eight to 10 people - perfect for family get-togethers in this most homey residence.


Q: What's the best thing about living in Hong Kong?

A: Convenience, plus it's lively and fast-paced.

Q: Describe your home in three words.

A: Warm, charming and cozy.

Q: What's the first thing you do when you get home?

A: Go to my study room and check emails.

Q: How do you unwind?

A: With two young girls at home, there is hardly time to unwind. But when there is the time, we like to open up a nice bottle of wine and enjoy the spectacular view from our balcony.

Q: Where do you spend most of the time at home?

A: In the living room and master bedroom.

Q: What's the best view from your home?

A: The living room because it is low rise around our building and you can see The Lion Rock which is covered in greenery.

Q: How do you scent your home?

A: Don't have one.

Q: What's your favorite object at home?

A: Too many.


Ilse Crawford

Who is she?

A leader in international design, Ilse Crawford is widely recognized for developing a humanistic approach that works on all scales. Studioilse, her London-based design company, collaborates with individuals and companies to define their brand and translate it into design that is not only visual but can also be experienced through other senses.

She is also the founder and head of the Department of Man and Well-Being at the Design Academy Eindhoven, in the Netherlands and the author of two books about people-centered design. Crawford was a honorable speaker at the Business of Design Week, the largest design event in Asia, held in Hong Kong this month.

Tell us about some of your works. Which are you most proud of?

Studioilse works across homes, hotels, offices shops, even masterplanning ... but all from a human perspective. Everything we do is about creating places where people thrive. We are proud of all our work. But ones we love especially are those that have become iconic, such as the Mathias Dahlgren Matbaren in Stockholm. And a small development we did in Hong Kong, 226 Hollywood Road, which sold out within weeks.

Are you currently involved with any project?

We are working on something in Shanghai which is super-interesting. Making what is essentially a fairly large public space feel warm and inviting and in a subtle way express the values of the client.

Describe your design style.

We don't have a design style. We have an approach and a process. By taking real life as the starting point, we believe design can add meaning to the way we live and work. Studioilse apply this at all scales - from products to buildings; private to public spaces.

Where are you most creative?

Everywhere. But I like to deal with real situations and real people and real parameters. They are more interesting to me than abstract ideas. I am interested in design that can provide a frame for life, that connects on a human level and makes all events, no matter how small, matter.

Where do you like to go most in Shanghai?

I liked Shanghai a lot. It has so many interesting old and new buildings, including the extraordinary Slaughterhouse. But of new buildings my favorite so far is actually the amazing Ningbo History Museum in Ningbo, in Zhejiang Province, by Wang Shu.

What will be the next big design trend?

There are many parallel shifts at the moment, but one is certainly to combine commerce with content. That is something that is social and sustainable, at the same time as being profitable and desirable.

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