Hong Kong Homes: A Contemporary Art-Filled Apartment In Mid-Levels
The Crocketts are a picture-perfect family. Jonathan, head of 20th century and contemporary art at the auction house Phillips, exudes charm and confidence, as does Patricia, the Hong Kong representative of Berlin-based art gallery Sprüth Magers. And eight-month-old George—gorgeous and remarkably well-behaved—completes the picture.
They would make the perfect stars of a family movie—and their home, a spacious apartment in Mid-Levels overlooking the harbour, would make the perfect set. Airy and filled with light, it’s neatly decorated with highly desirable classic and contemporary items spread across a palette of greys and blues. Art, lots of it, covers the walls, from the living room and two studies to the master bedroom and nursery.
It also comes in the form of vintage and design furniture, sculptures, photography and objects collected on the couple’s extensive travels. The overall aesthetic is both cosy and cool, tactile and stylish. “A reflection of our tastes, both as individuals and as a family,” says Patricia, who is a senior director of Sprüth Magers. “We complement each other quite well.”
The family moved into the house two years ago after relocating from London for Jonathan to take up his appointment with Phillips in Hong Kong. “We had 52 at viewings in three days until we found this,” Patricia recalls. “We were undecided between Repulse Bay and Mid-Levels, but this area ended up making more sense workwise.” Jonathan walks to his office every morning, and it’s just a quick taxi ride for Patricia to get to meetings with potential collectors, artists and industry peers.
The pair were drawn by the expansiveness of the flat, its different environments (they each have a study) and the high white walls where they could hang their paintings. “I have been collecting objects and artworks since I was 16,” says Jonathan, who is Phillips’ deputy chairman for Asia. “I started with a sculpture I bought from one of my schoolmates in England, thinking he might become big one day, and continued throughout university, trips, career moves.”
He became more serious about purchasing contemporary art in his late twenties. “As part of my job, I would—and do—advise art collectors about what to buy, which means that I also often see great opportunities for myself.”
Patricia has also been purchasing art throughout her career. “We’re drawn to emerging artists and blue-chip names in equal measure,” she says. “But not necessarily because of their potential value,” Jonathan adds. “Each piece I, we, buy together has to speak to us. There has to be an emotive connection." “Although you do sometimes think of the market and trends and so forth,” Patricia teases him. “But I guess that’s just a natural professional bias.”
“I do do my due diligence,” Jonathan admits. “I always look up the artist before buying a piece, and talk to people—which is also what I advise my clients. After all, art is an investment.”
Among the treasures in Patricia’s study are a George Condo drawing and a large John Baldessari painting that she picked up while working for Sprüth Magers, and Pierre Jeanneret chairs. As well as in his study, Jonathan’s pieces are found in the living room alongside what he and Patricia refer to as the “joined collection,” the works they have been putting together as a married couple.
Here, a work by Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota looms over a Han-dynasty amphora, while a collectible, distressed 1950s Arne Jacobsen Egg Chair complements a bar cabinet fashioned out of a metal box by Beijing furniture designer Naihan Li as part of her acclaimed Crates series. “We love beautiful objects, in whichever form they come,” Jonathan says.
The bedrooms, too, reflect the couple’s artistic inclinations. In George’s nursery, an edition of a joyful work by Yayoi Kusama hangs over the changing table. “He’s mesmerised by its colours,” Patricia says. “He smiles and giggles whenever he looks at it. The piece itself might not be worth very much, but his love for it really makes it special to us.”
A piece by Hong Kong artist Lee Kit is also part of the decor, as is a tapestry by Canadian Brent Wadden. They fit together perfectly, creating a vibrant atmosphere for the baby’s room.
The couple’s own sleeping quarters offer a similarly well-curated display, with unexpected juxtapositions of antique furnishings—a Neolithic pottery vase from Mainland China, a massive crystal piece picked up in Macau—and ultra- contemporary pieces, such as an image by South Korean photographer Jung Lee and a canvas by artist Maria Taniguchi of the Philippines.
Other artworks, Jonathan says, are currently in storage in the UK and Hong Kong—and under the bed.
Do they always consult each other before purchasing a piece? “Absolutely,” Jonathan says. “There are a couple of small objects Patricia isn’t super keen on, like a 17th-century Portuguese figurine of Jesus Christ out in the living room that I bought from an antique shop, but I wouldn’t purchase anything major without talking to her. It’s good to balance each other out in that sense, too.”
“We’re also both thinking of more long-term pieces now,” Patricia says, “items we could love forever and pass on to George in the future.”