‘Unfilled’ Tortona

Tortona is always our second destination for edgy and innovative designs after visiting the fair at the Fiera. I wasn’t sure if we were early or what (it was 11am already), but we could walk down Via Tortona without being crushed to death. This was so unusual. Exhibition spaces were unfilled and the audience fewer than normal. This was totally not the case compared with previous years.

Tortona used to fill up with innovative contents and it’s where you can find designers who think outside the box. It also caters to the international audience of design enthusiasts who are always on the look out for the newest trend. However, this year, we saw more commercial products than edgy contents. We both had the feeling that we were in the home department of a department store.

Even though it was not as good as the previous years, we were still able to capture some good pictures to share with you… Here you go…

Japanese designer, Tomoko Tokuda, used vintage watch faces to create a stunning art piece. Extremely Avant Garde!!!.I wish I could have snapped this up but unfortunately this piece was not for sale…

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Vienna-based artist, Dejana Kabiljo, designed the OCCUPY! chair made with spring wire in 24 carat gold

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These amazing urban sculptures, Serac Bench, were the great work by Zaha Hadid for LAB23. These sculptures were both functional and decorative. I wish I can see these benches in Hong Kong one day…

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Hadid’s signature fluid curve design

The bench is made of resin quartz, an engineered stone

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MINI showcased the most impressive installation at the Tortona this year. You can feel the motion and power even through the photographs

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Even though I am not a big fan of Moooi furniture but I quite enjoyed looking at how they accessorized the furniture by using the unique and colorful mannequins and photographs with the strong narratives

DSCF2743 Yes… these are what I was referring to the home section of a department store, what do you think???

Brera Design District

I don’t know why Brera District hadn’t been covered in our posts last year for the Milan Design Week, maybe we just had too much to write about and we couldn’t even make room for it…

Brera District is another key part of the Milan Design Week, it’s filled with well established furniture, lighting, rugs and decorative objects shops. Some special installations or new product launch setup would be seen during that time. In this year, the attentions were drawn to Lee Broom’s crystal bulb shop, Patricia Urquiola’ Revolving Room for Moroso, Oki Sato’s stool for Caesar Stone and Steve McCurry’s photography Installation.

Different types of Catch Lamps by Lindsey Adelman for Nilufar

Very powerful photography Installation by Steve McCurry. Steve McCurry is an American photo journalist best known for his photograph – Afghan Girl on National Geographic Magazine.

Caesar Stone presented 2 installations this year by the very famous Japanese designer, Oki Sato. Stone Garden was made up of 300 stone tables with each table supported by a single metal rod and secured by the overlapping design. Does it look like a Japanese rock garden from the top???

Oki Sato also designed a Stone-Edge table with corners and legs ‘guarded’ by Caesar Stone’s polished quartz

Lee Broom’s crystal bulb shop simply lighted up our day!!! Guess how many we bought???

GUAXS from Germany showcased it’s stunning glass objects in different shapes and colors

We saw this charming wall light at SPAZIO900. When I was just about to buy it, they said they only produced 10 pieces it’s all GONE!!! Arrggghhhhh!!!! This lamp was made by vintage materials and was especially made by this exhibition called Design Out Of Production.

The Revolving Room was an installation to celebrate Patricia Urquiola’s first textile collection for Kvadrat and her new and existing products for Moroso. The collection was presented on some moving panels with a small garden being setup in the middle of the room. You know it was very hard to take pictures as everyone (including myself) wanted to take some great shots of the garden and post it on instagram right away!!!

I just loved this ‘chinese take-away box’ table or floor lamp by Promenmoria. I wanted to take it home!!!

The detailing and craftsmanship of Chi Wing Lo’s first collection was impeccable. The circular cabinet with the revolving door is my best pick!

Something Small But BIG Impact

In 2011, we were both invited to Hermès La Maison debut exhibition during the Salone del Mobile. Hermès invited the very famous Enzo Mari, Antonio Citterio and RDAI  to start a new page to demonstrate a contemporary expression of furniture and craftsmanship. The whole exhibition pavilion was designed by a very powerful architectural duo, Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines. All these big names made its first collection very luxury, elegant, timeless and of course very beautiful. However, at some point, I think this collection was safe.

Then in 2012, Hermès collaborated with Shigeru Ban again for the very creative modular system of architectural elements for walls and partitions called MODULE H (you can refer to our previous post, Module H). The idea was great but the lead time for production and installation was way too long that I personally think no one in Hong Kong can afford the time of 9 months for covering walls or creating partitions.

So, what would you expect to see in 2013??? We saw Hermès adopting a different approach this year. They invited a freelance French designer, Philippe Nigro, to design 8 pieces of furniture under the collection name ‘Les Nécessaires d’Hermès’.

Philippe Nigro’s collection really showed the contemporary lifestyle of Hermès and even though these pieces were not big but they created a big impact to the entire La Maison collection. It complemented the core furniture, wallpapers and fabrics series launched in 2011 and also the architectural elements in 2012. Furthermore, this collection is so versatile, it can easily go along with any other brand’s furniture not just with Hermès. Sooner or later, you will see some of these pieces appearing in my apartment. I will keep you all posted.

Pierre-Alexis Dumas, the Artistic Director of Hermès, introduced the French designer, Philippe Nigro, to all the guests at the opening event

The collection was presented in an installation with different ‘house’ shape structure. It reminded me the VitraHaus designed by Herzog & De Meuron

This was one of our favourite pieces, Groom, where you could place your scarves, ties, bags and accessories. It’s metallic structure made the entire stand very stable and firm

The folding screen was easy and charming. You will now have a choice of a different partition with less production lead time

The house shape floor lamp just caught my attention, very intelligent styling!!!

All the pieces were arrange in domestic settings to show how the furniture could be used

Love this lower cabinet as it combined the book stand, drawers and magazine/newspaper racks all in one

Very contemporary style coat rack with some trays to hold your accessories. There was a hook for your umbrella too!

Extremely comfy chair in houndstooth pattern fabric

Folding screen in different fabric

This bench made my jaw drop!!! It has 2 drawers on each side and 2 other drawers in the wooden section. It’s both functional and fascinating

These ottomans were like an oversize Hermès scarves. Love it.

Yes, the pieces designed by Philippe are ‘essential’ to make the whole La Maison collection completed.

Uninspiring Salone 2013 – Lighting

Furniture is always the core part of the Salone del Mobile and it pairs up either with the lighting or kitchen exhibition every alternate year. After spending a day looking at furniture, we were both hoping to see more interesting designs the next day when we came back just for the lighting displays.

In general, we were not blown away by what we saw. In some cases, we found the displays boring and repetitive when we were walking around the different booths. We saw more color selections and different finishes for the existing designs as well as some new designs but they looked cheap. We were planning to spend a day there but we ended it up leaving at 230pm to have more time to prepare for the other opening event at night…

Contardi lightinng is always one of our favorites. Its elegant and contemporary style always attracts the furniture brands such as Armani Casa, B&B Italia and Giorgetti to collaborate with them or use their products in their different settings.

The new model called Couture Serie was everywhere at Giorgetti’s exhibition

Saint Louis showcased some ‘not-so-typical’ chandelier style this time. I quite liked this 15-Light Apollo chandelier. It’s a smaller scale and light weighted chandelier compared with the brand’s other chandeliers.

The glass shape of this suspension lamp looked like the shape of the Russian doll. Can you imagine it’s by Saint Louis as well?

Forgot which brand of this suspension lighting was but I was impressed by the size and the leveling (It’s designed by Antoni Arola for Santa & Cole – Updated on Jun 3)

VIBIA had some great designs for both indoor and outdoor use. Just wondered if I can sit on these outdoor lightings called Meridiano???

I could imagine seeing these bamboo lightings in Bali or Thailand’s resorts…

Wireflow by Arik Levy for VIBIA could be seen as 2D or 3D from different angles. It looked like some line drawing suspended in the air. Very simple but yet modern

This collection designed by Bernard Schottlander reminded men of the other suspension lamp designed by Serge Mouille. They are quite similar…

Beauty could be coming from cardboards. Easy, affordable and environmental responsible! Different sizes of ceiling lamps by Greypants

The new art of light by Philips

The draping styling of this Barovier&Toso’s ceiling simply caught our attention

Uninspiring Salone 2013 – Furniture

We arrived in Milano a day before the official start of the Salone del Mobile, and it was surprisingly quiet as we walked along Via Montenapoleone.   In previous years, there would also be  many people rushing around trying to finish  last minute touch ups of installations or else everywhere would be packed  full of shoppers. However, what was noticeable was there were distinctly fewer installations in this area and the ones that we saw were not that impressive at all (We didn’t even take one single shot). My  guess is that this is a result  of the European companies facing cutbacks in their budgets and their facing  serious economic hard times now…

On the first day of Salone del Mobile, we arrived at the Fiera early in the morning and were hoping to be inspired. Unfortunately, it was totally the opposite. There was little in terms of new design furniture from the leading brands and even fewer interesting exhibition designs.  The feeling that the economy was really hitting hard in Europe was palpable. We met up with some of our old friends and also made some new ones in Fiera and the resounding feeling of depression was mutual. Having said that, it was not all doom and gloom as there were still some interesting pieces that managed to catch our attention.

The new pentagon shape ottoman in shocking color and in houndstooth pattern by Arflex

The ‘Lady’ armchair has evolved to become a sofa called ‘Madame’

We were quite impressed by LEMA’s styling. Even though their furniture was just average, but the rugs that they used, the piping to the rugs and the use of colorful lines to define the area made the whole setting look beautiful.

Rug by Golran

The color definitions added a twist to an ordinary rug, simply chic!!!

It was a love at first sight when we saw these mirrored plates at LEMA’s exhibition. We only realized a few days ago that these mirrored plates was design by a Japanese designer, Tokujin Yoshioka. Mirage was simply a contemporary reinterpretation of traditional mirrors to become an art piece.

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Giorgetti had the most stunning items in this year. Four speakers were installed in this solid wood wine cabinet together with subwoofer and an amplifier in the basement. Definitely a  highlight!

I need this free standing mirror with a tray in my walk in closet!!!

A new design of screen pairing solid walnut wood with mirror

Love this sever-drawer chest with a frame and mirror

Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka (Yes, it’s him again…) designed a collection of element tables and chairs for Desalto. Rather than standing upright, the angled stand or stand designs could make the table top or seat balanced and stabled

The neon coloreds piping added some youthful element to the traditional Poltrona Frau furniture design

After a long day at the Salone, we rushed to the opening party of EDIT for a preview of the collections of some new and up and coming designers. Utopia & Utility, Areti Atelier and Innermost were part of them. I think we have seen it all before…

 Playing Ping Pong in Milan~~~

CHI Did It Again

Tony Chi is one of our favourite interior designers. We admire his attention to detail, sense of scale and the composition of different materials. I still remember when we first checked in at the Park Hyatt Shanghai, we were totally blown away by the design despite the service slightly below standard and the hotel being just a bit too dark to navigate.

Recently we visited the newly opened Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Guangzhou, China which was also designed by Tony Chi. To be honest, we were not blown away by the design this time.  However, the service at the Mandarin Oriental Guangzhou was incredible, the staff were highly attentive and very helpful.  The food and the ambience of the restaurant were satisfying. However, we both had the same feeling that the design lacked innovation. Don’t get us wrong, Mandarin Oriental Guangzhou is a beautiful hotel and yet extremely comfortable. But the problem was that we kept seeing the same  bits and pieces taken directly from his previous successful projects like the Park Hyatt Shanghai and the Andaz New York City.

We understand each designer has their own style or preference, but from time to time we need to think out of the box and give it a twist in order to create a better design.

This tree sculpture was made from different parts of different trees and then installed it together by Chinese artist, Shi Jin Song (史金淞).

I am not a big fan of a lobby lounge with no window…

The lift lobby of the all day dining restaurant, EBONY, and the spa and fitness centre

Tony Chi used the same art works that he selected for Andaz Hotel NYC throughout the restaurant EBONY

We were greeted by the giant green plants at the entrance of the restaurant


Very thoughtful detail on the arm rests. Can be washed everyday

Love the design of the ceiling and the floor, elegant yet contemporary


We were not blown away when we checked in the room… It’s comfortable but no surprises at all…

His signature design of using shelving

In most hotels you barely see enough daylight in the bathroom, this was the exceptional case

Why did they only provide one chair for a suite?

This side table with drawers was our favorite item!

Very unconventional floor design, great job!!!

If you look closer, you can see this cherry sculpture is made up of the Mandarin Oriental FAN logo!!!

The gigantic ceiling light at the ball room

Love the detailing on the wall panel

See you soon!!!

‘Look At Me’ Design

We have already covered the spectacular quality and impressive variety of food that is available in many of the restaurants in Sydney in our previous posts. It is worth repeating that I found the food over there was so delicious and I was really inspired by some of the impeccably designed restaurants which I dined in. During one particular night, after having indulged in a rather decadent meal, I couldn’t justify going straight back to my hotel on such a full stomach only to crash into bed in a food coma. I remembered that I had been recommended by an associate to check out a new hip hotel under the Design Hotel Group called QT Sydney on Market Street and so off I trundled to find the hotel in a bid to walk off the innumerous calories I had just ingested. As far as I was told, this new hotel was supposed to be playful and amazing.

QT Sydney is located by the historic Gowings department store and heritage-listed State Theatre. The public area of the hotel is designed by Nic Graham & Associates and all the guest rooms are designed by Indyk Architects.

QT Sydney is indeed very happening, bold and playful. However, it is not my cup of tea at all. I prefer something which is more elegant and understated and QT Sydney is exactly the opposite. I would say QT Sydney adopted the ‘Look At Me’ design approach. Everything inside the hotel is trying too hard to capture my attention. Furthermore, I found QT Sydney to be a ‘W’ Hotel wannabe but without the strong narrative. A real pity but for me it was worth the visit as it gave me the opportunity to walk off some of my calorific dinner!!!

The entrance of QT hotel

 The sculpture in the foyer was made of paper cranes

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The historical elements of the building remained untouched

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Interesting graphic inside the lift car

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The lobby was located on the 4/F and was decorated in an eclectic style and filled with many different style of furniture in bright colors

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A video art wall

Traces of fashion element could be found throughout the hotel

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The restaurant bar

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Plates were stuck on the ceiling in the restaurant

L1070459The guest room was filled with many decorative items. In my view, too many!!!

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The feature bath tub

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Captain mirror and ostrich leg table? I don’t think so…

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Room signage was quite playful

The staircase was kept as per the original design

Extensive art programs could be seen throughout the hotel

Star Designer Effect – Part II

After visiting OPUS Hong Kong, the next luxury development that we thought you might be interested in is the up and coming one of a kind residential development in Bangkok, the MahaNakhon designed by OMA. The MahaNakhon is located bang in the central Bangkok CBD area with direct access to the sky train (which is so important given how atrocious the traffic in Bangkok can be). It is a mixed used tower which includes hotels, shopping, restaurants and the Ritz Carlton residence.

This innovative tower design features the pixelated facade trail, which gives the impression that the tower has been attacked by an infestation of termites. The units along the trail consists of different sized terraces and balconies which create a unique living experience. The super luxury Ritz Carlton residence was designed by the renowned and award winning designer firm, David Collins Studio. We were so simply taken a back by the level of detail and the application of colors by the designer. It’s feminine with a masculine touch if that makes sense… The entire concept was so different from the typical tone on tone show apartments not to mention those over-the-top bling bling type show apartments.

The circular entrance foyer

We liked the oak paneling with the bronze trim against the dark purple sofa

Very interesting detail of the sofa cushion

Another different style of arm chair

The same paneling design with different material which gave a total different look and yet complimented each other

A closer look at the detail of the panel

The spacious living room is divided into different zones by way of the furniture arrangement rather than by physical partitions

We loved the furniture selection in this show apartment. They are classic and timeless pieces

Oversized bath tub by Acape. Unfortunately the bag doesn’t come with the residence… that belongs to KC :-)

 A hint of  feminine touch on the window curtain treatment

Star Designer Effect – Part I

In our previous post, we shared with you the latest super luxury residential development OPUS HONG KONG by Frank Gehry. This is one of the most recent developments in the latest of a global trend in engaging ‘Starchitects’ to design residential buildings. In New York, there is the Herzog & de Meuron’s 40 Bond (see our previous post, Breaking The Grids); Frank Gehry’s 8 Spruce Street and Daniel Libeskind and Lord Rogers have just completed the Reflection in Singapore (see our previous post, Form Is Not Yet Everything) and One Hyde Park in London respectively. More to come in the name of the Mahanakorn in Bangkok by OMA (will be posted in Part 2) and the d’Leedon in Singapore by Zaha Hadid. Starchitects give buyers confidence and an added value in the top end of the market. But breathtaking projects like these also demand the very best interior designers for the show apartments. In the coming 2 posts, we will show you two show apartments in the residential buildings designed by the ‘Starchitects’.

The first show apartment that we visited is the OPUS Hong Kong by Yabu and Pushelberg. This apartment was a challenge to the designers as the floor plan is irregular in shape and no wall is actually straight. The concept of Yabu and Pushelberg was to create a series of spaces divided by screens and yet seamlessly flow together without obstructing the stunning view of the harbor. We especially loved the selection of the furniture and the art programs in this flat as it was bold on its own but harmoniously complimented each other.

 The view of the family room

The formal living with the unparalleled view of Hong Kong

Stunning and unique coffee table by Chista. Anna Torfs glass objects definitely added some chemistry to the entire settings

 The causal dining area

The spade shaped like table was quite a match with the pendent light by Herve Van der Straeten

The featured screen by Deborah Moss and Edward Lam was another iconic design in the show flat. It connected different spaces in the apartment

 Another charming and fascinating pendant by Herve Van der Straeten

Beautiful headboard design. From an unknown source, the design was intended to capture the light during sunset

 The accessories selected throughout the show suite were just amazing

The art program in the show flat was beyond great. It included many well known artists like Takashi Murakami and many many more. I wondered where I could get a full list of their selections…

Waiting With Marc Newson

We both love traveling but what we don’t like is going through the immigration, security, and waiting at the lounge or departure gate (I guess you all agree with us, right?). Given that,  we usually arrive the airport just in time, so that we can minimize the waiting time. However, when I was on my way back to Hong Kong from Sydney, I actually arrived at the airport 2 hours earlier so that I could have more time to experience the Quantas First Class Lounge designed by Quantas Creative Director Marc Newson.

The curve lush green wall led me to the lounge on the floor above

The ceiling design resembled the aircraft engine

This retro flight departure board was brilliant, especially the sound when the information was changing

The lounge was divided into different areas by the rib cage like structure. All the furniture were made by Capellini

The gradation hexagon pattern carpet impressed me a lot

Work zone

Living room setting lounging area

Very sleek show kitchen

Make sure you arrive at the Sydney Airport earlier enough to experience the Marc Newson design when you get a chance. Bon Voyage~~~