Cover Otto Ng and Heline Lam

The bank’s new Hong Kong office, designed by Otto Ng, co-founder of LAAB Architects evokes understated elegance, warmth and modernity

It is practically impossible to not feel at home in VP Bank’s new Central office in Hong Kong. Designed with a warm palette of neutral wood tones and plush furnishings with comfortable curved edges, the soothing space exudes a welcoming atmosphere that inspires one to sit back and imagine a world of possibilities that lie ahead.

This is exactly what the design team aimed to achieve from the get go.

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“Banks normally give people the impression of a cold and impersonal space that can feel a bit distant. We want to undo this generic bank image, especially when VP Bank offers tailor-made services for their private clients,” says Otto Ng, design director and co-founder of LAAB Architects. “The design evokes a sense of human touch and celebrates local artisanship with a hand-painted texture wall as the backdrop of the lobby and hand-crafted solid wood tables.”

To successfully reinvent the concept of what a bank of today looks like and to elevate the banking experience, Ng and his team collaborated closely with Heline Lam, chief of staff Asia and managing director of VP Bank. VP Bank’s Hong Kong office, VP Wealth Management (Hong Kong) Ltd, is a wholly owned subsidiary of VP Bank Ltd in Liechtenstein and offers comprehensive wealth management solutions for intermediaries and private individuals.

 

“The whole concept orbits our VP Bank logo. As we differentiate ourselves from other players in the private wealth industry, it was essential to create a space that speaks of understated elegance, yet is modern and warm,” says Lam.

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To curate this homey mood, Ng chose to clad the space in high-quality wood materials and combined this with colourful upholstery and details picked from the bank’s branding palette and visual identity. For example, round windows reflect the round motif of VP Bank’s logo.

“There are two doors with rounded features leading to the meeting room and VIP room on each side of the reception. You can also see what’s happening in the rooms through the two round windows. These symbolise accessibility and transparency, which are also inherent to VP Bank's values,” says Ng.

The soft curvature also induces a soothing effect, he adds. “They smoothen the spatial experience, making one feel more relaxed. This was a clear aspect in the brief from the beginning—that clients should feel at ease and relaxed.”

 

The office also serves to reinforce the bank’s DNA in entrepreneurship, innovation and team spirit, says Lam.

Take the marble reception counter for example, which lends itself as a grand centrepiece in the office. It offers a sense of solidity and reliability. At the same time, it complements the look and feel of the interior to convey the bank’s values of collaboration, partnership and professionalism in an understated way.

“This is a space that supports diversity—even in the materials that were chosen—and a modern openness with a mostly open-space layout to cater to the workplace of the future,” says Lam, of the new office, which has double the capacity compared to VP Bank’s previous office space to accommodate for growth and scale.

The open-plan also maximises how sunlight diffuses into the office, which offers an added element of wellness to those within the space, something the modern individual is sure to appreciate, Ng adds.

 

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Above The tea room is plush, comfortable, and conducive to productivity

To ensure the office is versatile enough to meet different needs, such as the increased reliance on online meetings, all rooms are well-equipped with video conference equipment and whiteboards to encourage collaborations. The boardroom can also be transformed into smaller meeting rooms to allow multiple, more intimate meetings to be conducted at the same time when necessary.

The renovation of the office, which ran from August to November last year, progressed smoothly thanks to the clear communication between the teams.

 

 

“We worked very closely with Heline to develop the spatial planning and designs. She has a particularly good eye for the selection of materials and furniture. We also shared a common interest in making a space that is welcoming for both guests and colleagues,” Ng shared.

Lam, who project-managed the end-to-end process of the new office (including design concept and renovation), agrees.

“Between the client and the designer, very often it comes down to communication and working chemistry. It was Otto’s initial design concept and his company’s professionalism that blew us away. Their creativity and understanding of what we needed as a private wealth management services provider were key.”

They were also pleased to discover that they had similar working styles. “I work in a very organised and structured manner; it was a breath of fresh air that Otto and his team also operate in similar fashion. The schedule and budget were kept to the plan and there were no surprises along the way during renovation, a challenge given the current Covid-19 and supply-chain situation,” says Lam.

Now that the office is up and running, the tender loving care that the team poured into every detail in the bank has paid off handsomely.

Lam observes, “We have received many compliments from our clients and partners regarding the design. While enjoying their privacy in our client rooms, they feel at ease and relaxed without an air of ‘stuffiness’, which is comforting to hear as we took a lot of care and time in the designing phase to ensure this.”

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