Celebrating a birthday is a very interesting thing. There are transformative years, like a celebration of a decade’s past or even half that, when the appropriate way to celebrate a threshold is a grand birthday bash. Then there are the odd years when its that weird transition, like in my case, turning 34, which is neither as cool as “Jesus-Year-33” or as exciting as 35. In this situation, you wonder… if the birthday is worthy of any big bash at all?
Everyday is indeed a day to celebrate living and breathing, that said, we always should find an excuse to throw a party, a dinner, or anything for a celebration. Life’s short ya know? So while I usually throw big bashes in Hong Kong every year for the birthday, this year… I wanted to try something else… an “Intimate Dinner” series. And because I am who I am, I chose to celebrate this year with six intimate dinners… claiming the entire week for celebration. (The seventh day is gym day.)
For those who have a week of dinners to spare, value intimate conversations, as well as entering a “weird age” not warranting a grand bash, I suggest scheduling a few dinners big and small with all your fabulous friends so that you catch up with each and everyone one of them over tasty food and drinks, instead struggling a “hello” over loud music.
In the case of Hong Kong, a foodie haven, a birthday week is a perfect opportunity to sample the newest and best this city has to offer in the Dining scene, and for me a great way to “wanderlist” all the freshesr hotspots for the blog. I even created an Instagram hashtag, #JJsBirthdayWeekofEats. Here’s to the first three meals of the week…
+ “All You Can Eat Fries With Rib Eye”
Our “Birthday Week of Eats” began at one of the newer restaurants in town, La Vache. At La Vache, you can pretty much have anything you want… as long as what you want is a Trimmed Entrecote Steak with fries and a walnut salad. That said, there’s only one thing in the menu to get right, and they passed with flying colors. Entrecote with fries is a staple meal in plenty non-descript urban cafes in France. In Hong Kong’s La Vache, it’s the star of the show. Using USDA grade Rib Eye, your steak is cooked any way you want it, with melt in your mouth unlimited french fries, and a light walnut salad to start, all for less than 300HKD. An iconic and addictive “Sauce Maison” is also a reason to go back. Drinks and a Dessert cart (great selections) are available as an add-on to the meal.
Decor is surprisingly light, modern, charming, tasteful, and really has a feeling of being located in Paris. I especially loved the cool illustrations of Paris everywhere you look. This most likely has something to do with making you feel like you’re having a dining getaway.
There are no reservations here at La Vache so pick your visit here wisely.
EAT La Vache! . GF 48 Peel Street, Central, HK . T: +852-28800248 . No Reservations
+ “Europe’s Best In Da’ Hood”
For my second night of dinners, me and the boys went to check out the famed ABC Kitchen, pioneered by a couple of chefs from the now defunct M at the Fringe. What makes this place interesting is that those two chefs are basically cooking up signature dishes which earned M at the Fringe it’s accolades, awards, and fans. These renegade chefs are offering 5-star dishes democratically at not-so-M-on-the-fringe prices.
Contextually, there’s no hoity-toity here. ABC Kitchen is located in a cooked food hawker centre in the middle of Sheung Wan. The only thing that’s fancy about it is an amazingly iconic suckling pig (also from M) that everyone orders, the red and white checkered table cloth, and an extra personal and friendly service that’s seemingly alien to the city but expected in an HK family run cooked food eatery.
We tried the beetroot risotto, the seasonal mussels, the foie gras with toast, and all of the desserts. Overall we were completely impressed by the Kitchen’s classic European fare, served here using fresh ingredients, at a truly affordable price.
EAT ABC Kitchen . Shop CF7, Food Market, 1 Queen Street, Sheung Wan . T: +852 92788227 . Reservations Required
+ “Classic Spanish With The Atherton Twist”
Despite its very compact space, Ham & Sherry, a new Ship Street locale by the super duo, Yenn Wong and London-based Jason Atherton, is such a cool and beautiful drinks and dine destination. A big contribution to the charm is most likely the smart use of Catalonian-inspired blue and white tiles from wall to floor, plus framed mirrors throughout, giving a feeling of an expansive social house in Spain, all under the creative design direction of Shanghai-based studio; Neri and Hu.
Wong and Atherton first collaborated on 22 Ships across the street, serving Spanish tapas in a completely inventive way. Gone are the fusioned influences of 22 Ships, but instead Ham & Sherry, pairs classic Spanish selections, like a range of Iberico Bellota Hams, a creamy mixed Seafood Paella, a scrumptious Salt and Pepper Chipirones (Squid), and a dish of Garlic & Chilli Prawns, with an impressive selection of sherry. The idea to have a sherry-based destination eatery was initially due to the success of the sherry offerings at 22 Ships. Some of the 50 choices of sherry at Ham & Sherry include a range of moscatel, manzanilla, and classic finos.
If you ARE new to Sherry, your wait staff will be more than happy to assist you in pairing each of your dishes with the right Sherry of choice or vice versa. If you’re feeling up for it, you should have both Ham & Sherry and 22 Ships in the same evening, some people do. Since this is my third night of birthday eats with three more nights to go, I decided to pace myself instead.
EAT Ham & Sherry . 1-7 Ship Street, Wanchai . T: +852 25550628 . No Reservations
The rest of #JJSBirthdayWeekofEats to come! Stay Tuned.
Okay. Let me just put it out there and get the obvious criticisms i’ve been hearing on and on about about Zaha Hadid’s design for the new new PolyU Design Jockey Club Innovation Tower out the way. Ready? Here goes:
CRITIC: The Tower is out of context with the rest of the Hong Kong PolyU Campus in Hung Hom.
ME: This is a criticism that most new “avant-garde” iconic buildings get around the world in relation to their context. And really… the language of this urban brutalist dream that is the HK PolyU campus is a product of its time and does not reflect what design innovators are doing at this point in time. Any further investment in architecture should support new ways of form exploration and form making.
CRITIC: The Tower facade, defined by a series of white aluminium fins is too flimsy.
ME: Actually I think it’s quite okay. I get that the horizontal striations are generally in line with the rest of HK Poly U’s Horizontal red bricked striations.
CRITIC: The windows and the buildings are too difficult to clean and maintain. They need to erect bamboo scaffolding to clean each area.
ME: You got me on that one.
CRITIC: The floor layouts are too crazy.
ME: Actually the floor layouts are not bad. Each floor is a kind of place that is different from floor to floor. The corridors are as important as a place of gathering as are the classrooms. I would imagine design students could be more open to congregate within these playful spaces than traditional narrow corridors and boxy classrooms.
The vertical circulation without use of lifts is easy, using a main escalator from the Ground Floor Gallery to the First Floor, with subsequent floors connecting via a series of easy sloped staircases which are quite comfortable.
CRITIC: The paint job is a cheap white paint with no gloss or special finish. Design students can just easily scratch it.
ME: Agreed. I too am worried about the white paint used in the interior spaces, since it is a design school and different materials are always being lugged around by students.
Now that all those critical statements are out of the way and addressed, lets focus on the Good. Yesterday we had the pleasure of attending the ribbon cutting at the Innovation Tower’s official opening to the public with Zaha Hadid and company in tow. After seeing a series of speeches, all the guests were immediately invited to rush into the new building to what turned out to be an open house.
Here’s a few facts; the PolyU Design school was first established in 1964, which makes it 50 Year Old. In 2009 BusinessWeek rated its Master’s program as one of the World’s 30 Best Design Thinking Programmes. In 2013, PolyU Design became the only school in Asia to get in on Business Insider’s World’s Best 25 Design School list. While there is no Architecture Programme being housed here, they do teach Art / Education, Communication Design, Digital Media, Interior Design, Interactive Media, Product Design, Design Business, and Multimedia Entertainment Technology.
Construction work on the school began in 2009, shortly after Zaha Hadid was named Design Architect. Four years later, the building completed in August 2013. In total, it houses 15,000 square meters of net floor area, accommodating about 1,800 staff and students.
While true that the building has its faults (what building has none?) overall the impression that I get here is that a Zaha building was achievable in a conservative city full of red tape like Hong Kong, and by the looks of some of the finishes… seemingly with the constraints of the allocated budget, which, correct me if i’m wrong, was about 40 million usd.
BRAVA. TO. HER.
I mean, look at these spatial moments. It’s pure ArchiPron!
London based award winning Architect, Zaha Hadid, is everywhere in Hong Kong these days. For one, I’ll be attending the inauguration for her project for Hong Kong Poly U in two weeks, the Innovation Tower, Zaha’s first stand alone building in the city. Additionally, for those who have been shopping at Landmark Men’s Neil Barrett store in Central within the last two years, would get more than a hint that the shop is a Zaha-designed store. And priced at a whopping 1,500Euros online, sources say that Zaha’s United Nude shoe collaboration has been a hit in this city and mainland China as well.
Now taking our love for shoes and architecture to the next level, look what I spotted walking around the Hong Kong IFC Mall the other night… Hong Kong’s brand new Stuart Weitzman flagship, one of a handful in the world designed by Zaha Hadid. Hong Kong and the Milan stores are some of the first in operation. Other locations to follow include New York City, Rome, and possibly London and Beijing.
While the stores will conceptually be unique to each location, Hadid tells DEZEEN Blog that each “design is divided into invariant and adaptive elements to establish unique relationships within each worldwide location,” yet will all be conceptually and formally developed as if from the same family. This is to help establish the spatial direction as that uniquely of the Stuart Weitzman brand.
Enjoy my photos, and check out the shops (for architectural study of course. ahem.)
Other Photos Spotted Online:
Seen&Scene: Chen Fei and Izumi Kato, Chinese and Japanese Painters Debuts Solo Shows Together at Galerie Perrotin Hong Kong
Above, “There will be a day to see you again (2013)” Acrylic on Canvas and “Step Father (2013)” Acrylic on Canvas, both by Chen Fei.
Young Chinese artist, Chen Fei, born in 1983 in Shanxi, is making a solo come back to Hong Kong via Galerie Perrotin. Fei, who was originally discovered by gallerist, Nicole Schoeni, first exhibited here with Schoeni at her 2008 group show, Niubi Newbie Kids and Niubi Newbie Kids 2, and then had his first Hong Kong solo also with Schoeni in 2010 with Bad Taste. With Schoeni Art Gallery closing its doors recently, Galerie Perrotin, has stepped in to offer Chen Fei his second Hong Kong solo titled, Flesh and Me.
"Sorrowful Peasant (2013)", Acrylic on Canvas by Chen Fei
With Flesh and Me, Chen Fei explores further his usually cinematic themes of him and his heroine via a stylistically, “Supreflat”, approach. According to Nicole Schoeni, Chen Fei and his work is representative of a generation of Chinese Post-80’s youth who grew up in an essentially consumerist and media centric society, devoid of the discussion of politics. His works may not be politically conscious, but is telling of generational influences via pop-culture narratives with an overtone of cynicality, humor, and anime violence.
"See Yourself (2013)" Acrylic on Canvas, by Chen Fei
Seven new works adorn the space, each painted with the typical obsessive meticulousness that Chen Fei has been known for. The depiction of his subjects, a woman and his own self, depict Fei’s interests in flesh as it relates to sexuality, pain, ownership of the body, mortality, and perhaps our place in the universe.
"Dark Stars (2013)" Acrylic on Canvas, by Chen Fei
The specificity of the Chen Fei’s work runs in stark contrast to the works of Japanese, Izumi Kato, which adorns the main central gallery that one can see as they enter the space.
Untitled works from 2013 by Izumi Kato
Born in 1969 at Shimane Prefecture, the exhibition at Galerie Perrotin, marks Kato’s first solo show outside Japan in career that almost spans two decades. Owing to his responsibilities as primarily a painter, to the two-dimensional medium of the canvas, Kato seeks to create a better way of not recreating our world, but creating a new one within that flat format.
While Chen Fei seeks to reflect the Japanese graphic obsession of a precise “Superflat” style, Izumi Kato is very comfortable with letting compositions arise from the application of paint from his own fingers wearing vinyl gloves and typical rubber kitchen spatulas. The effect of the medium combined with the alien-like beings depicted in his works, enable Kato to create new worlds with new characters unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Untitled from 2009, by Izumi Kato
Three dimensional figures, propped up on plywood platforms on the wall or on ready-made furniture, help Kato break the wall of the painted image, and bring his characters into our own space, where they seem happy enough to inhabit.
Untitled works from 2013 by Izumi Kato
VISIT Flesh and Me by Chen Fei and Izumi Kato Solo Shows Ends 2014 MAR 15. Galerie Perrotin in Hong Kong, 50 Connaught Road Central, 17th Floor, Central, Hong Kong . +852-37582180
(Above: Feng Shui Master, Thierry Chow)
Those who know me personally know that my addiction to multi-tasking and juggling of several projects from both being a designer and blogger keeps me up on my toes so high that I’m basically flying on my own space ship. This is the reason why to some, I must look like some kind of “Space Cadet.” Additionally, some may also consider me “Spacey” because of my vocal (to my close friends) beliefs in the active exploration of a “non-physical”/ spiritual universe. What the!? You Ask? Let me explain.
This means that, although I’m personally not religious (spirituality too boxed up according to other people’s definition), I believe in a “metaphysical” order to the Universe, meaning that from my perspective on things, the Universe we see is a sliver of a portion and a by-product of what is actually REALLY out there. And just because one can’t materially and physically feel, see, and directly measure something, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. This has been conceptually confirmed theoretically in science within the last 6 months.
Living in Hong Kong, has been an amazing contributor in helping me foster my interests in the esoteric study which among the many “spiritual” topics I’ve been interested in, is Feng Shui. Additionally, I’ve noticed that every successful or creative person I know in this city, even those who seemingly only believe in the worship of money, have at one point or another, seeked the counsel of a Chinese medicine doctor, a Feng-Shui master, or a neighborhood temple’s local clairvoyant. From the culture of “paper burning” as a way to honor the dead visibly on sidewalk streets, to the iconic towers of the city designed by the likes of Norman Foster and IM Pei, Feng Shui has had a presence almost everywhere, shaping this unique first world city.
Feng Shui is older than Christianity and dates back practices to around 6,000 years ago in China, and is essentially the study of the correlative relationship between each human being and their spatial universe, using maths to calculate your relational physical elements “fire, water, earth, metal”. What Feng Shui allows people (who believe in it) to do, is to manipulate the physical environment they live and work in, so that this environment can work on their favor from a more “balanced” standpoint, balancing luck in career, relationship, and health in an yearly basis in relation to each individual. For 2014, I’ve finally gained a new local Feng Shui expert (I used to rely on my hobbyist aunt from Texas) in the name of the very stylish, Thierry Chow.. With fellow spiritualist, writer, and social media personality, Johannes Pong (below right), we met up with Thierry, and her boyfriend, Canadian artist, Peter Yuill (below left), for a welcome dinner in the neighborhood to discuss more of her work as both a budding Feng Shui master and the converging of her practice with design work for a new generation of dual-language/dual-culture believers.
Thierry who has been featured locally with profiles in several magazines and websites like Sassy Hong Kong and Lifestyle Asia, has only just begun her practice. An apprentice of “legendary feng shui master”, Chow Hon Ming, her father, Thierry seeks to give modern solutions for people living in today’s world. She plans to soon design modern furniture and home items, which combine basic feng shui principles, that look and feel good from a design perspective. For the month of February, she even held events with her dad at the Little Square space on Square Street which is really fantastic for her new career because Little Square gets the cool young crowd, a completely different audience relative to your aunts and grandma, for example.
After dinner with Thierry and Peter, Thierry agreed to reorganize my home based on Feng Shui principles for 2014, as well as give me one of her special readings in which she assessed my whole life via that feng shui point of view. I’m here to tell you that Feng Shui needs not to be about old school crystals, weird statues, and balls with running water… in fact, as part of the modern incorporation and principals, it too can be stylish. Here are a few things I’ve had to do to integrate well spatially with 2014:
+ Money Corner
I had to get all “red” in the South Corner of my flat because this year my chances for wealth have doubled if this corner was “activated”. The aromatic diffuser, replaced fish bowls and tacky waterfall machines. Thank God for Thann Hong Kongat K11 and their diffusers! The red painting I sourced from Pinterest.com, plotted out in hi-resolution and framed myself. The charms (looking like a pot of Gold) are gifts from Mischa and John Hardy.
+ Lucky Wrist
Because I naturally have so much “fire”, Thierry advised me to wear less read, and more soothing colors to reflect colder elements like water and metal. Ie. Jewellery. Even though men have begun to wear more jewellery and wrist pieces as part of today’s Dandy-inspired looks, I’ve just preferred to wear watches. After asking readers on Twitter where I can source “silvers” and “golds”, my friend, Angus, told me that Kapok on St. Francis Yard sells the full range of Men’s Miansai bracelets. Any of them would work, but I decided to purchase the Rose Gold Cuff. It’s a solid brass base with a 24K Rose Gold plate. I’ve been MORE lucky ever since.
+ Green To Grow Relationships
My most favorite part about finding stuff for the home is filling it with plants. I was happy to buy more plants for the center portion of the flat, especially ones that looked a little more “floweri-sh”. Its best that one gets flowers for the relationship corner, however if the plant only looks like a flower, that can pass as well. Although I love flowers, they’re really a bit too high maintenance.
+ Red, Yet Earthly Work Chair
I was tempted to purchase this “Chinese” Style chair from Ikea, because according to Thierry, it’s best If my Western corner (My work corner) had more earthly elements. Also Red is a very lucky color for career, while the timber seat reflects more of the earthly vibe needed for this specific area, which is different for everyone. I ended up not getting the chair because it wasn’t available, and upon further research online, the chair had quality issues. I just wanted to point out, that solutions for Feng Shui can be stylish while also a fun challenge.
+ Socks for Lunar New Year
Despite the fact that I’m supposed to wear less red, universally, everyone is supposed to wear red socks to celebrate the Lunar New Year. The GAP in Hong Kong had these amazing knitted boot socks at 30% off. It’s a great excuse to buy great looking pair of socks, while sticking to this superstitious rules in a fun and stylish way.
I also wanted to point out for the month of February, BOOM Magazine released a special 2014 Feng Shui Almanac that totally looks old school. This is one of Thierry’s latest projects, and a way for her to make the practice be relevant to our generation and integrating her work with design. It’s quite cool. Some cool content on here is a guide on where you should stand at a bar in relation to your Chinese Horoscope and a guide to how to twerk.
(Twerking is not related to Feng Shui in anyway FYI.)
Also I spotted Peter’s work area he shares with Thierry. Thematically, he’s into metaphysics too.
Happy Go Lucky 2014 from Wanderlister.com!
Originally published on 05.Feb.2014 via INDESIGNLIVE HONG KONG
Born in 1929, LA-based architect, Frank Gehry, needs no introduction. Being relatively the most populist of all starchitects of his generation, Gehry is also easily the most touchy-feely of the bunch. A straightforward practitioner, his exploration of form is unabashedly sculptural without the theoretical mumbo jumbo that guides the fluid works of Zaha Hadid, Peter Eisenmann, and Thom Mayne of Morphosis, for example.
The architect-as-sculptor liberates Gehry to do what he does best, design form without constraints, which includes the computer. Those who have studied Gehry’s work know that his studio is filled with hundreds of physical models, and there’s the old legendary tale of his designing Bilbao from a cocktail napkin. But because this is architecture and his stuff needs to be built, his projects go through a process of rationalisation, which eventually has to work structurally, as well as respond to a site’s scale constraints.
Funny however that while his latest buildings and his non-habitable works like his corrugated cardboard furniture series – Easy Edges (1969-73), Experimental Edges (1979-82), and the Knoll Furniture Series (1989-92) – all focus on trying to make the thing kind of not look like the thing it is supposed to be, the Fish Lamp studies, of which the latest versions of them are currently on display at the Gagosian Gallery in Hong Kong, are exactly what he names them to be. The angle here is not really about the restraint of formal explorations as to what the fish can be, but really about the earlier brief that started it all, a request by Formica Corporation to Gehry to create something new with their plastic laminate product, ColorCore, in the early eighties. Gehry’s Formica product is a thin sheet of glossy plastic laminate, which when broken and ripped, reflect the scales of a fish when grouped together. The properties of the torn plastic gives the sculpture different levels of translucency, especially when the LED within the fish is turned on.
According to Gallerist Nadia Chan of Gagosian Hong Kong, these fish lamps, 33 new pieces in total and exhibited amongst four Gagosian galleries around the world, were all hand sketched by Gehry and are site specific to the floor plan. Eventually like all architectural works, his sketches are further studied on computer, and built in his California studio by hand. The hand-chipped fish scales are then individually glued piece by piece on a wire armature built based on the computer’s model.
Not a surprise, Gehry sells well, and the Hong Kong showing, tied with the Lunar New Year, is considered the grand finale of all four Gagosian shows. Hong Kong has the most new works of these Koi light sculptures, a lucky symbol by Chinese standards. An extra treat to Gehry fans is his inclusion of a big black alligator sculpture located at the very end of the visitor’s path.
The exhibition, ending on 1 March 2014, has already sold well for the gallery. A single fish or a school of them can be acquired making sure Gehry’s offerings easily adapt to Asian spaces. The architect originally planned to make a press appearance in Hong Kong for the show’s opening, but sources say, due to health and schedule, he was not able to make it to this side of the Pacific. Noting his age, this may very well be the last we see of new fish from Gehry at such a grand scale.
For those who want to see his fish on permanent exhibit, there is always the giant Fish Sculpture at Vila Olimpica at Barcelona (1989-92) and the Standing Glass Fish (1986) at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which will be situated at their sites pretty much forever.
VISIT Frank Gehry: Fish Lamps, Exhibition Ends 1 March 2014 . Gagosian Hong Kong . 7F Pedder Building, 12 Pedder Street, Central, Hong Kong
The other day I was hurrying to get to a meeting in Causeway Bay, when I a passed by this interesting window for the relatively newly established Hackett London flagship store across the street from Lee Gardens One. Against an unfortunately minimal ounce of hesitation on my end, and owing to the fact that walking into Hackett London’s Hong Kong store for the first time would most likely give me informative content for this style blog… I gingerly ventured in like some soldier of duty for all you readers.
I walked out with this jumper almost an hour later.
Thank you very much… 30% Off End of Season Sale. The choice was between that above, and this below.
A brand of the 80’s, Hackett is essentially a modern menswear lifestyle label focused on a style that is essentially and classically 100% English, yet with a contemporary twist.
The Hackett Shop in Hong Kong, big by any standards for this city with menswear and kids clothing in stock, is apparently a mere fraction of its globally iconic, Sloane Street flagship with lifestyle offerings way beyond what we have here.
Offerings in the UK include a spectacle range, grooming products, and barbers.
That said, men who visit the store in Hong Kong can enjoy personal and bespoke tailoring, and a bit of a drink in the bar.
I snooped on the Tailor at work.
As well as enjoyed laying out some key pieces on the adjacent fitting table.
Here are some key #JJStyle looks that the staff helped me put together. This one is me channeling classic Dr. Who.
And perhaps… my favorite look of the two, Dr. Who now.
The Hackett Hong Kong shop is split up among two levels, with different rooms catering to different looks. Some rooms are geared to formal looks, while others are geared to more casual sporty looks, and there’s a room for that safari travel look. There’s even a room for kids.
This room below is an homage to the English member’s only dining clubs.
Complete with British-centric books to peruse.
There’s also plenty of accessories of which to choose from.
And ties of a full range.
Made In England.
It sure is!
Hackett’s founders, Jeremy Hackett and Ashley Lloyd-Jennings’, portraits adorn the shop’s staircase walls.
I love this decor.
It’s good to have a bit of variety for menswear in this town don’t you think?
Here are some key looks for Spring-Summer 2014 via the label’s creative director, Michael Sondag (previously Tommy Hilfiger.) This season’s styles are inspired by the candid photographs of Terry O’Neill, the work of David Hockney (a recurring theme within most labels this season), and the things and objects one can find in the artist’s atelier.
Quite quirky and modern isn’t it?
WEAR Hackett London . GF, Eton Tower, 8 Hysan Avenue, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong . +852-31010008