Cover Photo: OFGA Hong Kong

Effie Yang and Winston Yeo of OFGA Hong Kong eliminated the doors in an art collector’s home, transforming it into a beautifully curated gallery

With an extensive collection of beautiful art, the owners of this apartment in Mid-Levels wanted their home to resemble a “gallery experience”, according to Effie Yang, co-founder of architectural and design firm OFGA Hong Kong, which carried out a design overhaul of the property. “As avid art collectors, they really value beautifully lit wall space and museum details.” 

OFGA is an acronym for “office for good architecture”, explains the firm’s co-founder Winston Yeo. “It’s a reminder for ourselves that ‘good’ is always changing, and needs to be defined case by case.” 

The 1,292 sq ft residence had a dramatically different layout prior to its makeover: it’d originally been fitted with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The architects were tasked not only with transforming the apartment into a space fit to exhibit carefully curated art, but also to “solve space-planning.” 

In case you missed it: Home Tour: A Penthouse With Spectacular Ocean Views In Ma On Shan, Hong Kong

“The client wanted a master ensuite, enlarged living space, an open pantry and a flexible guest room that doubles as an extension of the living space,” notes Yeo. 

To develop a layout of the home that would fulfil the brief in redividing spaces while also allowing for attention to be focused on the art, the duo adopted a minimalist design approach. The bedrooms were removed, creating a sprawling space with zero doors. 

But with the doors eliminated from the home, the architects were faced with the question of creating a master suite that retained a degree of seclusion.

Read now: Home Tour: An Oceanfront Hong Kong House Restyled For The New Normal

“One of the challenges is: how do you balance openness with privacy without the use of doors?” remembers Yang. “Unlike a gallery or a loft, where you can do an open plan and set aside large canvas walls, there is always a desire for some degree of intimacy in a domestic setting,” she explains. “And in Hong Kong—a need for efficiency and utility.”

In the end, the architects installed walk-through cabinets that surround the master bedroom. They act as a threshold between the domestic space and the “gallery” the rest of the home had become. In the flexible guest bedroom space, two large concealed pocket doors add acoustic privacy. 

Don’t miss: Home Tour: Crafting A Unique House With Geometrical Shapes In Fo Tan, Hong Kong

These are not the only major changes made. The previous owners of the home had converted the balcony into part of the interior space, resulting in a lack of natural light. Yang and Yeo reinstated the balcony as a raised verandah: its eastern orientation means it “catches quite a lot of breeze”, says Yeo. 

“Reinstating the balcony and opening up the window walls towards the park helped bring in more nuanced daylighting into the interiors,” he explains. An abundance of foliage seen from the balcony, which is fitted with large, foldaway glass doors, lend a “cinematic quality” to the space. It’s not the only source of natural light: wide windows were installed in the master bedroom. Throughout the day, beautiful daylighting spills over into the gallery.

Meanwhile, interior lighting is also an important detail. “It needs to be well-balanced in order for the space to function as a gallery as well as a home,” says Yeo. Museum-quality lights from Erco were installed, which he says gives “very precise control of artificial lights.”

Over in the bathroom, a custom-made hand basin from Corian forms part of the lower wall, which Yeo says gently emerges to accommodate a double washbasin before returning to the flush on the wall. “This particular design was inspired by working with cement and rounded terrazzo details for the shower floor,” explains Yeo. “The gentle curves really complement the softer northern light.”

The apartment is located in a building constructed in 1964. Aged buildings can mean complex exterior conditions, as well as antiquated arrangements in plumbing and mechanical works, says Yeo—but they could also become a source of inspiration. 

“The clients had this idea of retaining a piece of the apartment history, and we thought the entry foyer was a great place for this,” Yang says. “In the entry foyer, you’ll find the original 1960s parquet flooring, stripped and reinstalled as a folly in the ceiling.” 

“My favourite feature in the space—the walk-through closet gallery—was inspired by the structural walls that remained in place after we gutted the unit,” remembers Yeo. 

The project took around seven months to complete, with a strong element of collaboration in the design process. The clients had curated a collection of photographic work and sculptures—part of a vast collection in Hong Kong and overseas. Meanwhile, the furniture are period pieces owned by the clients, and the design duo worked with them to curate a small selection for the home. 

“It was a lot of fun to work with,” reflects Yang. “Sometimes, the artwork can inspire a detail or architectural response.” 

© 2022 Tatler Asia Limited. All rights reserved.