Inside Lumen And Andrew Kinoshita's Art-Filled Luxury Home In Mid Levels
In an era of home design when minimal is more and industrial is ideal, a residence that celebrates the multidimensional lives and vivid personalities of its occupants is a rare find indeed. With Lumen Kinoshita’s busy social calendar to contend with, not to mention her high-profile finance career and a demanding jewellery business on the side, one might expect the home she shares with her husband, Japanese architect Andrew Kinoshita, to be the picture of organisation.
But the 3,000 sq ft flat, located on the third storey of a 56-year-old building in Mid-Levels West, is neither modern nor immaculate. Instead, the four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom space is fit to burst with artworks, eclectic furnishings and other curios the couple have acquired over their 20-year marriage.
“What’s the name of that lady who organises people’s houses?” Andrew asks while playing with their black, bark-happy rescue mongrel Dau Dau, whose name means “adorable” in Cantonese.
“Marie Kondo. We don’t need her, Andrew,” comes Lumen’s rapid-fire reply.
Last October, after a relatively short search, the couple moved from their former address on Conduit Road to a more spacious pad on Robinson Road. “We saw four or five houses before picking this. Andrew likes this area because it’s convenient. I traded out a rooftop garden and attic in our last home for more square feet in this one. This building is unpretentious and totally under-decorated. There’s a Seventies vibe, which I love,” she says.
There is nothing one might describe as under-decorated about the inside of this home. “I know what I want and have a good sense of proportion,” says Lumen, who chose not to hire a decorator. Rising to the top of her field as the head of financial services provider KGI Asia, Lumen also has an astute eye for design, having launched her own jewellery collection, L.Luminous, five years ago.
Her instinct for shape and colour is expressed across the living and dining room walls, which are covered in works by iconic artists like Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Nobuyoshi Araki and Takashi Murakami, the latter two of which are giant framed pieces of erotica that Lumen describes as ham sup—a Cantonese term denoting both salty and sweet—placed side-by-side for greater impact. Works by local names such as Lam Tung- pang, Wucius Wong, Chow Chun-fai, Stephen Wong Chun-hei and Hong Kong favourite Frog King hang among them.
“I want to build a collection of artworks by artists that are important to Hong Kong. This city is such an integral part of our lives and I want to honour that,” Lumen says.
Meanwhile, coffee tables hold cherished sculptures by Sui Jian Guo, and books on Ai Weiwei, Claude and Francois-Xavier Lalanne, Julian Schnabel, Marc Chagall and Yayoi Kusama are stacked a metre high on window ledges, and antique Xinjiang carpets are found in every corner. Surfaces display decorative candles and Dutch Delftware interspersed with local blue and white Chinese ceramics, couches are filled with antique pillows, and shelves feature vast amounts of flatware and Christmas ornaments, which have yet to be put away during a late January visit.
Near the window is the couple’s living wall, filled with traveller’s palms, with rattan light fixtures from Lane Crawford hanging overhead. “These lights were in storage with our other belongings for almost five years. That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars down the drain. I told Andrew, ‘We need to put these up.’” The space is now a cosy nook for the architect to read his collection of first edition Tintin comic books and National Geographic magazines, the latter of which he has collected since 1972.
The couple met through friends in the late Nineties, though Andrew says Lumen initially ignored his advances, which she confirms. “He was so weird. He was a newbie in town and was handing out business cards. We ran into each other at a ball weeks later while I was on a date with a gynaecologist. Andrew saw me dancing to an Elvis song and came up to me and asked for my number,” she says.
Though Lumen is the chief curator of their home, she relies heavily on Andrew’s expertise to maximise the space. “You can tell the house has more of me in it than him. I do most of the buying. He will always say things like ‘Don’t buy this’ or ‘Don’t you have something like this already?’ He would definitely [rather] have a lot less stuff,” she says.
One thing they agree on is their mutual appreciation for the arts, an interest each inherited from their parents. “Andrew’s were art collectors and mine collected antiques, so we always had an interest in art and Chinese ink. They exercised a lot more restraint than we do. We don’t think of ourselves as collectors. We buy what we like even before we have a place to put it, and we aren’t exactly systematic about it,” she says.
Lumen’s prized possessions include three lanterns by Japanese-American sculptor Isamu Noguchi, who rose to fame in the Fifties for his mulberry-bark paper and bamboo light fixtures. Another favourite, which she admits to having bought with her father’s money, is an abstract painting of bold blocks and stripes by Irish-American artist Sean Scully. “I love my artwork. The majority of my pieces were bought at auction, either at Christie’s or Sotheby’s. Homes should be a vignette into your life. You should be surrounded by things and people you love,” she says.
Wabi-sabi, the Japanese concept of embracing imperfections, is a design principle Lumen follows closely. The combination of old and new, refined and raw, affordable and ostentatious is the home’s running thread: a perfect example is the large, nude (and incredibly voluptuous) bronze-patina Fernando Botero sculpture, Eve, in the living room. It sits an arm’s length away from a HK$120, octopus-shaped ornament from the Japanese interiors store Franc Franc, symbolising both the couple’s love for marine animals and scuba diving as well as their recognition that, sometimes, the price of an object has nothing to do with its value. “I have an octopus by legendary Italian goldsmith Mario Buccellati, but it’s not like this,” she says. Elsewhere, antique pieces by silversmith Paul Storr stand near Neolithic pots and urns found in a deserted village in Sai Kung.
There is no such thing as too much, and today, anything can be put on auction and become a collectible, Lumen says, as long as it evokes some kind of emotional response. Down a hallway lined with Antony Gormley paintings lies the main bedroom, containing an unusually modest-sized double bed, another piece with an emotional significance. “I know it’s small, but it’s the bed I had even before I got married. It used to be a four-poster bed, but we sawed down the posters,” she says.
The bedroom is the only place in the house personal photographs are to be found, with pictures of the Kinoshitas’ parents, parties and teenage years displayed from floor to ceiling on shelves. In a home bursting with stories, the room offering the truest glimpse into the couple’s lives serves as a private sanctuary—just the way they want it.
But even amid this treasure trove of memories that decorates their fabulous home, it turns out there is really only one secret to domestic bliss after two decades together.
“Two separate bathrooms,” says Lumen.