Cover The marble fireplace makes a striking statement in the living area, and is paired with ribbed ceramic tiles that conceal the TV

Like an experienced conductor leading an orchestra, multidisciplinary design studio Cream harmonises a beautiful interplay of forms, patterns, and materials with a resonant sense of luxury in this villa in Hong Kong

Sensual forms and rich textures define the spaces crafted by Hong Kong-based multidisciplinary design studio Cream—its rigorously designed and elegantly layered settings project a sense of old-world luxury and sophistication. This aesthetic is grounded in the background of the Hong Kong-based firm’s founder, Antony Chan.

Prior to setting up Cream, one of the firms he worked at was the namesake studio of acclaimed French interior designer Andrée Putman. Today, Cream regularly collaborates with a long-established network of fabric, marble, metal, leather and wood master artisans from England, France, Asia, and the US.

The interior design of this three-storey detached house in Hong Kong’s Deep Water Bay is a fine showcase of Cream’s ethos. The 3,767 sq ft property belongs to a well-travelled couple that enjoys the joie de vivre of Europe. “The clients came to us because they wanted a home that is a fully orchestrated work of art rather than a blend of different tastes and opinions,” says Chan.

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He likens it to a Japanese-style omakase fine dining experience, where the guests entrust the chef to decide on the dishes of a meal that features the finest seasonal ingredients available. “You will get a better and more satisfying experience if you leave it to the chef to orchestrate rather than adding your own suggestions to change the menu, although the chef can accommodate likes or dislikes.”

In the living room, the European influences come through in the leather sofas, backed by a custom bronze wall panel. The latter is composed of illuminated Murano glass elements reminiscent of candles, evoking the ambience of an Edwardian-era gentlemen’s club. “But the loose, organic pattern of the custom-designed carpet and the angular legs of the chic glass table are completely contemporary,” says Chan, emphasising the avoidance of kitsch in this elegant tableau.

The transparency of the panel reflects the sun’s rays, which shine in through floor-to-ceiling windows to create a “visual feast that is particularly breathtaking at sunset,” says Chan. He adds: “Cream sees lighting as an important vehicle of expression. Bespoke lighting is created to deliver a one-of-a-kind experience that is vernacular to the project.” Indirect lighting is preferred to spotlights, and luminosity is created from various sources, such as the wall sconces flanking the travertine fireplace, which displays an equally arresting play of textures and patterns. Above it, a panel of ceramic tiles with asymmetrical ribbing conceals the TV. 

This ribbed pattern is repeated in the grey-green marble tiles that clad the solid marble staircase balustrade. “While it has a soft, textured look, the use of marble makes for a very elegant backdrop to the dining area,” says Chan. For functionality, the staircase walls are designed such that they can be dismantled to accommodate the moving of larger pieces of furniture upstairs.

In the dining room, organic lines are evident in the robust legs of the Romeo Sozzi-designed table. A full-panelled stained-glass mirror handmade by a local artisan expands light and space. The line of wall sconces from the living room continues into the dining area, uniting the two spaces visually.

The original house came with four bedrooms—the design team created a den from one of them and allocated one whole floor to the master bedroom, making it large enough to house a lounge area with a sofa.

Here, panels with hand-painted reeds channel a touch of nature and diffuse light softly around to facilitate quiet afternoons reading and listening to music. “Our main source of inspiration is nature, which we try to incorporate where possible,” says Chan. This comes through in the firm’s preference for soft forms and tones, rather than harsh and contrasting shapes and colours.

The spaces of private contemplation and cleansing are no less considered. In the off-white master bathroom, a strategically placed bespoke circular metal-framed mirror plays on perspective, and the marble bar for hanging towels is a luxurious touch.

The standalone bathtub and washbasin stand are like pieces of furniture or sculptures, accentuating the crafted nature of the interiors. In the junior master bathroom, the design team replaced a wall with glass panels for a more spacious feel; the gridwork design is inspired by the paintings of Dutch artist Piet Mondrian. Around the washbasin counter, a portal made from metal tubes works as a subtle space divider.

While the home features multiple textures and patterns, there is a strong sense of harmony; the entire renovation took a year to complete. The design team achieved this beautifully cohesive interior with a rigorous control of the colour palette “so that nothing is jarring”.

Says Chan: “The design of a home is like a piece of music. There can be different sounds and instruments but overall, it must be calming and harmonious. It’s an intuitive process, really.”

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