Home Tour: A Colourful Mid-Levels Abode Inspired by Tate Dining Room
Interior designer James JJ Acuña often likens his creative efforts to those of a tailor. Much like the precise fit of a made-to-measure suit, he believes interiors should be customised to match the client’s needs and lifestyle. “Tailors choose fabrics and cuts that fit that client––we’re happy to look at our projects and working methods in a similar way that people see tailors,” says Acuña, who is the founder of his eponymous practice JJ Acuña / Bespoke Studio.
“We listen carefully to make sure we understand what our clients want versus what they need, and then we respond appropriately by designing bespoke spaces that fit our client’s current habits and aspirational lifestyle.”
This thoughtfulness is clearly evident in an apartment located in the Mid-Levels enclave in Hong Kong. The home of Butler Asia co-founder Angues Chan and his wife Genevieve Lam, the sociable newlyweds wanted a living and dining area where they would entertain guests to be made distinct from their private quarters. The well-travelled couple also wanted to incorporate subtle nods to modern architecture, while having a contemporary interior that is both stunning and inviting.
Another key goal was to maximise the magnificent views that the apartment offers. Its elevated position looks out to lush vistas of the rolling green hills, as well as the city skyline. “The home faces the east, so there’s beautiful sunlight that comes through in the morning,” observes Acuna. “We liked the fact that the existing site was a really well-preserved home; although the original interior looked very dated.”
Rattan wall panels add a sense of heritage while separating the study from the social zone of the home
This unique door handle is among the bespoke elements crafted to match the vaulted ceiling
Originally a two-bedroom unit, the walls of one of the rooms were removed to increase the size of the living and dining areas in the 1,100sqft apartment. The studio reconfigured the formerly symmetrical floor plan to create a new foyer, a dining area and a study, and also relocated the kitchen and powder room. Vaulted ceilings, graceful arches and cove lighting create a sense of drama in the social quarter of the home.
Pastel shades and creamy tones contribute to this abode’s ethereal look. “We met the homeowners through a restaurant client we’ve designed a couple of projects for,” explains Acuña. “They also really loved a restaurant we designed called Tate Dining Room in Hong Kong, which had a balanced combination of pink, white, beige, and blush elements which we included in our material board for the home as well.”
These soft shades are paired beautifully with French-influenced mouldings, trimmings and cornices, which are juxtaposed with timber and rattan panels that reference Asian-style furnishings.
“Brass detailings on the flooring, dining banquette, bathroom basin and door handles elevate and frame this ethereal tone-on-tone concept,” says Acuna. “All the door handles were made-to-order and sourced by the owners in Europe; my clients like to think of these details as necessary finishing accents—the same way accessories complete a fashionable outfit.”
“Brass detailings elevate and frame the ethereal tone-on-tone concept”
The designer also wanted to honour the graceful bones of the property. He left one of the original columns in the living room bare-faced and finished in gold leaf by French surface-finish artist Elsa Jean de Dieu, in a style inspired by kintsugi, the Japanese practice of mending broken pottery with gold lacquer; this handcrafted detail adds a stylish edge to the space.
Other notable details include the six bespoke pendant lamps in the living room, which were created by American concrete artist Brandon Mike and commissioned by the owners. The lighting pieces are crafted in concrete and clay, in blush and earthy tones to match the palette of the apartment.
For the master bedroom, the design team worked closely with French concrete panelling studio Concrete LCDA to create unique pressed timber textures on the concrete wall. The couple also selected an artwork by Cuban-American artist José Parlá from the Gagosian Gallery to complete the elegant composition. The ensuite bathroom is as well-choreographed, featuring curved details that recur throughout the home while taking cues from glamorous hotel suites.
Of all the beautiful spaces conceived for this apartment, the designer adores the dining room the most. “I love designing spaces that involve hospitality and call for a group of people coming together to enjoy food,” shares Acuna. “We were able to design and fabricate a restaurant-style banquette in hardwood walnut and brass on an existing ledge, making that window ledge disappear completely in order to create a table for six.”
This curved seating arrangement is paired with custom-made dining chairs in velveteen and brass that were hand-picked by the couple. The owners also selected a dining table designed by Bruno Moinard for Roche Bobois, and a pendant lamp from Ladies & Gentlemen Studio. The design team happily discovered an instant chemistry with their clients, who were much involved in the renovation and decoration process from the start.
“Our clients travel a lot and they would look for vintage pieces like the mid-century modern desk in the home office and the Pierre Jeanneret chair in the living room,” shares Acuna. “The couple have great aesthetic sensibilities, so we made sure that we were able to meet them at their taste level.” And it shows in the completed interior, which perfectly encapsulates the couple’s personal taste as well as the studio’s elegant realisation of the home of their dreams.