Design Notes: From Brune To Blonde, A Luxurious Stage

Hong Kong’s wonderboys of hair, Roland Boutin and David Gouygou, are treating their future and long term clientele starting today with a brand new hair space at the prestigious Grand Hyatt Hotel on Victoria Harbour adjacent to the Hong Kong Convention Centre. With Art Basel Hong Kong less than two weeks away next door, I can imagine these boys will be busy.

The new salon, Bruneblonde, is the next big step for these hair stylists who have made their first bigger move to Asia in the 90’s when they met. And now with their new location designed by architect, Greg Pearce of One Space, they’ve just upped the ante giving the right amount of stage and theatre for those ready and willing for a “Do-Over”. 

For the space, Pearce wanted modern intimacy, with a touch of old-world class splendor. The inspiration for the new space was based on classic Parisian apartments and  that 1940’s era grand salon. Art and Design objects from the owners’ private collections are accentuated throughout the space to make it more personal for them.

Lining the walls are crafted timber and anthracite panels. Light voids on the reflected ceiling allow for customers, objects, and products to be placed on display. The women’s area is characterized by a soft white palette, while the gentlemen’s styling area looks more like a barber shop utilizing natural grey limestone floors with polished copper walls. There’s even a mural by Italian artist, Vittorio Locatelli.

Bruneblonde is the only salon in Hong Kong to have the entire salon furnished with state-of-the-art Takara chairs, including the Belmont styling chair and the Yume shampoo bed.

From David Gouygou:

We love what we do and we are passionate about exploring new things - from styles to products - to ensure that we are bringing the very best to our clientele who come from all over the world, are from different nationalities and from all walks of life.

And now there’s a seat ready for them at Bruneblonde.

VISIT Bruneblonde, Mezz Floor, Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour City, Wanchai, Hong Kong, +852-2511-3988 / ARCHITECTURE One Space


Contemporary Chic Cantonese, Goes With A View Too


It was a week night, but after a hard day’s work, nothing says “perfection” like an intimate boozy meal of delicious authentic Cantonese fare with a small group of friends.

But first… My Whisky and oily salted peanuts, just the way I like it.


Mandy from Hotel Icon invited a me, our Korean rockstar, Julie, with ChristingC and most importantly, HK Food Blogger extraordinaire, Dan of Hungry Hong Kong, for a chill feast at Above & Beyond, Level 28 at Hotel Icon. I got there first, but it was fine with me. If I had the time, I would spend sunset there all the time whenever I want to be surrounded by the comforts of its space, a room designed as a library by the ever so chic, Conran & Partners from London. (They also designed the other F+B destinations at the hotel like Market and GREEN.)


The venue is “way up there”. I mean that because of its location in the hotel, the quality of the food, and an unbeatable view of Hong Kong Island’s iconic urban panorama. Of course for  perfection would be jazz nights on top of the Park Hyatt in Tokyo, but the mood and atmosphere here closer to home, is just fine with me.

The menu is seasonal and excellently prepared each night by Executive Chef, Joseph Tse. Not only does Tse obviously honor tradition with his menu selection and authentic preparation, but he flies off in amazing directions with some special dishes to balance adventure with the classics.

A fatty starter.


Followed by what I have to say… is the richest, most natural tasting, and best Hot & Sour soups I’ve ever had. It makes every Hot & Sour soup I’ve had since taste so much like chemicals and added flavouring. This particular soup is the real deal. It’s all natural flavours with daily fresh ingredients.




In addition we tasted amazing Coral Crab with Glutinous Rice, which is this season’s favorite dish, the house crispy pigeon with Oolong Tea Leaves, and a selection of yummy authentic desserts.

Above & Beyond may very well be my most favorite Cantonese restaurant in Hong Kong for the higher end market, but for low end nothing can beat Ngau Kee on Gough Street in NOHO, (which is unfortunately being kicked out due to higher rent.)

They have a house sommelier that can suggest an excellent wine pairing with your meal.




Thanks so much Mandy for your hospitality and a great dinner.

Meanwhile, every time I pass by Patrick Blanc’s green wall downstairs in the lobby and at the restaurant, GREEN, I just stop and stare in awe… for a long time.



Green Walls are Cool.

EAT Above & Beyond, Level 28 Hotel Icon, No.17 Science Museum Road, TST East, Hong Kong


Sal Curioso Is Food That Pops. Literally.


The nutty team who first brought you Madam Sixty Ate (M68), which I covered on the blog in 2011, have now found a second home one year later right in Central on the corner of Glenealy and Wyndham Streets near Lan Kwai Fong and the Fringe Club. The new dining concept is not a rehash of M68, but a completely new character in the name of Sal Curioso. Madam Sixty Ate’s menu, branding, and interior design, was constructed as a narrative in collaboration between Chef Director, Chris Woodyard, Founder Bronwyn Cheung, and Hong Kong design firm, Substance, led by Maxime Dautresme. The end-product is an easy introduction into Woodyard’s realm of travel food deconstructed via molecular gastronomy but for a mass audience who needed a softer transition. This same team is at it again with Sal Curioso.

Behind Buttermilk Chicken, begrudgingly a signature dish (and a standout one), Chef Woodyard hard at work.


Strategically, the Sal Curioso branding ventured towards the same route with a character driven approach, which may seem new and different from Madam Sixty Ate on the surface, but judging from the use of imagery on menus like “Squidpop” and the “21st Century Imperial Shaker”, all signs point to Sal as Madam’s lab rat twin brother. In Chef Woodyard’s case, if it aint broke, why come up with new DNA? 

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A Mad Man’s New Watering Hole at the Honi Honi Tiki Cocktail Lounge


Here’s something different for urban Hong Kongites, and for my blog… it’s a new Tiki Lounge in the center of the city and let me tell you, it’s fun, fresh, sexy, and refreshing all at once. In my view the newly minted Honi Honi Tiki Cocktail Lounge is a welcome addition to this often “too serious” city that needs to teach it’s urban dwellers to have fun and relax and that good afterwork cocktail drinks can be had in cool places beyond the super pretentious members-only bars or the token Karaoke destination.

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SCAD Style

2012 has been a great year for SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) this year. This past weekend the Hong Kong branch of SCAD opened its doors to open house for the general public to go and take a look at the American art school’s amazing facilities, located in the historic North Kowloon Magistracy Building in Sham Shui Po, a UNESCO Heritage Building at that.

Earlier this year a few HK Creatives, including myself, were able to take a tour of the school as well as offer a panel discussion for the students on topics that touch upon the subjects of HK Design and Social Responsibility and in my case, Fashion and Social Media.

This event, the first of its kind in Hong Kong, was titled SCADStyle 2012, with panelists such as Michael Leung (HK Honey / Shanghai Street Studios), Joanne Ooi (PLUKKA), Danielle Huthart (Whitespace), Collin Thompson (Ex-CEO Cipher), and Arne Eggers (HK Tatler)… all with whom I’ve written about in one way or another in this blog.

Arne and Me looking extremely serious. (We were talking about FACEBOOK.)

The turnout was great. And to make it more exciting, the lecture was located in the main courtroom which historically hosted some of Hong Kong’s most famous court cases.

We had fun with the panel discussion of course, but I actually found the tour the most memorable. I really felt like I wanted to go back to school. It seemed like a nice fun place to really “create”.

Additionally, the school had plenty of flexi-sitting out spaces which allowed for relaxed student interaction… afterall, most learning apparently occurs OUTSIDE of the classroom where students teach other students.

Most of the textiles, paintings, and objects that are spread around within the sitting out spaces were crafted by the students themselves.

The school is located within the historic Sham Shui Po district north of Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon. Here you can still find blocks of Hong Kong which reflect the city as it was before modernization. Chinese Building walkups from mid-20th Century are still preserved, and businesses still run the same way they’ve done so for many years. All these textures and visual flavours of course are captured by the students and published in SCAD Hong Kong’s first photo book, just released this year titled Tilting The Lens: Telling the Story of Sham Shui Po.

In attendance at the talk was blogger, Samantha Wong (center).

SCAD Alumn from Marc and Chantal, Jason.

Social Media consultant/guru, Taura.

Designer from my team at LWK, Frances (right) with Arne, both in black and beige.

Also I would like to thank my sister, Bernadette, my friend Andy, and another designer, Michael for coming to check out the talk as well.

Then it was a long taxi ride after, where I had a nice dreamy Wong Kar Wai moment on the way back to Central through the streets of Sham Shui Po.

SCAD in Hong Kong offers degrees for Advertising, Animation, Fashion, Fashion Marketing and Management, Graphic Design, Illustration, Game Development, Interior Design, Luxury and Fashion Management, Motion Media, Painting, Photography, Sequential Art, and Visual Effects. The degrees are an American Bachelors Degree. So if you’re born and live in Hong Kong, you can stay here and go to school, AND graduate with an American diploma. Not bad. But you can transfer to SCAD’s other locations in Atlanta, Lacoste, and of course, Savannah, as well.

Check out Whitespace’s Blog about SCAD STYLE 2012.

LEARN SCAD Hong Kong / READ Tilting The Lens / EXPLORE Sham Shui Po Neighborhood


Design Notes: Communicating and Connecting Through Corals, utwentysix Design Studio at Yeosu Expo 2012

Did anyone see the London Olympics Opening Ceremony 2012 this morning at 4am HK Time? I hope so, because I missed it. I’ll try to catch it on Youtube later, but I’m pretty convinced no opening ceremony will ever top China’s grandiose choreography (you can take that any way you want) in 2008.

Speaking of Ceremonies and International Events, I bet you didn’t that the World Expo is back. The last one, in Shanghai was two years ago.

I know what you’re thinking… has it already been TWO years?! Actually, it has, and there’s one this year, also close to home… in Yeosu, South Korea.

Yes. Obviously, China is not only good at propaganda on the home turf, but also abroad, since they somehow managed to make their World Expo 2010 in Shanghai a World “Must-Go” Destination… while no one even knew that World Expo 2012 in Yeosu was happening. To be honest, the reason for this is only half Korea’s fault… as I mentioned the Olympics is happening at the same time, but that said, the South Koreans are just bad at global PR… if it’s not about KPop and Cellphones.

It’s definitely not any less of a show than Shanghai. More than 100 countries are participating in this Summer exposition devoted thematically to the theme The Living Ocean and Coast. And for the Philippines, it’s just a theme that’s a perfect fit. Our friends at UTWENTYSIX Design Studios based in Manila’s The Collective enclave have recently forwarded to theWanderlister+, photos of their Philippine Pavilion in Yeosu focused on the theme of Islands of Diversity, Seas of Connectivity.

In the Pavilion, which is inspired by the coral-“a foundation of ocean life”- hangs four pods suspended from the ceiling which mimics a coral’s growth. Each pod represents the country’s main island clusters; Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The last pod is dedicated to Biodiversity and Conservation Efforts.

The interior walls are covered with coral veins to reflect “connectivity” as embodied in the Philippine theme statement. All of these corals are made with abaca hemp, an extremely strong and versatile natural fiber.

Information around the pavilion inform visitors of national conservation efforts, diving ethics, and various social responsibility programs of each partner and sponsor.

The gift shop below is a spherical construction inspired by a fisherman’s basket.

The pavilion’s facade are made of recycled metal produced by Korean and Philippine artisans, and reflect an organic structure of the natural coral growth… and cooperation with both countries.

Check out the World Expo’s digital walkthrough here:


A Cozy Urban Cave in the Heart of HK’s NOHO Hood

Wonder what living in Hong Kong can be like? FYI, not everyone can afford space and views of the Opus, the Frank Gehry residential project where each flat gets a sweeping 360-degree view of the city, but for the most part the average size and views that Hong Kong people do get can be as charming and as expansive if planned and designed just right, and with the right neighborhood, the views can be just as poetic.

Hong Kong Design Architect, Jason Carlow, principal of C:A+D looked at all the advantages of his latest project, a 450sq.ft. (normal for Hong Kong) residence at Shin Hing Terrace, and designed for these advantages. For one, Location! The newly renovated flat sits uniquely in a quiet area between Hollywood Road and Gough St. in the now-“in”-district of NOHO, just above a new Japanese restaurant and its neighboring design stores and art galleries.

Other “advantages”include the existing volume of the rectangular space within its quiet and tree lined site, which is something Carlow focused on in order to create an intimate and minimally modern living environment maximizing space and storage while paying respect to the original volume. Storage is incredibly important in Hong Kong.  Storage was maximized through the creation of a small walk in closet, extra under bed storage and a full wall of bookshelves and cabinets in the living room. As the apartment gets almost no direct sunlight, white walls and light colored flooring help to reflect light deep into the space.

Additionally Carlow opened up the home completely to the neighborhood beyond it (literally), framing the outside as a backdrop for the interior experience. The major design strategy was to create views from the rooms in the back, all the way to the street facade.  The entire front facade of the apartment was replaced with folding glass doors.  The doors open completely to turn the whole living space into a balcony and expand the space of the small apartment into the street. When the facade is opened, the interior becomes one with the space and the drama of the city below.  When the doors are closed and the curtain is drawn, the apartment is a bright and clean respite from the bustle of the crowded city.

Architect, Jason Carlow spotted at Konzepp’s opening last year.

C:A+D Carlow Architecture and Design / Suite 705, Wai Wah Commercial Center, 6 Wilmer Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong / 852.66904595 / C:A+D ONLINE


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A Subterranean Furniture Shop in Taiwan, Illuminated by WOOYO

A few years after we both left New York, I went on straight to Hong Kong, while my University friend, Hom Liu, went back home to Taipei where he eventually set up WOOYO, a multi-disciplinary Design Firm with two other founders. Besides Architecture, a department headed by Hom, the project range of WOOYO runs anywhere from Graphic Work to Branding.

Hom Liu, Architect Designer of WOOYO

Hom made his mark for WOOYO with a handful of built works both residential and commercial. Of all his works, one of the more standout projects recently completed is a strikingly bold yet elegant 1600 sq.m. furniture showroom defined by its awkward siting… shopfront and display spaces all located underground in a basement with minimal daylight opportunities for all interior sales areas.

Due to the very limited nature of the site’s light condition, the WOOYO team proposed a new row house archetype by inserting light-boxes into this underground space; a bit conceptually like “A House in a House.” (As you can see above.)

The visitors would walk along the aisle between light boxes to watch products and activity inside each shop area. On the other hand, the passerby can also be viewed by customers and staffs in each retail box.

Light is being filtered, refracted and redirected by glass layers.

The one light atrium that does exist, is further amplified by located the “light boxes” or Stores around this atrium. The use of white paint and white materials around this light-well and keeping circulation paths dark and subdued, enables a diffused but centered illumination around natural daylight. So basically even to the darkest areas of the underground furniture mall, the daylight effects still reach and make its presence evident.

The transition between Ground Floor and Basement Floor is further eased by a beautiful and illuminating spiral staircase made of glass and metal.

This staircase can be viewed from every shop, and gives a centrality, as well as a hinge point reference.

One shop however is double-storey and has its own central staircase within.

The biggest challenge of this project was to persuade the owner to accept this pure and white concept since the style is unusual in Taiwan especially for shops. Fortunately, the client travels frequently around the world, and is open-minded to new concepts and brave enough to incorporate a minimalist-scheme for this showroom.

Designer - Hom Liou, Matty Huang, Irene Liu
Nick Wu, Ashley Hung, July Chien, Jowett Lee
Category - Furniture showroom
Total Area - 1653 m2
Materials - Glass, iron, tile, concrete, wood 
Location - New Taipei City, Taiwan
Design period - Sep. - Dec. 2010
Construction period - Feb. 2011 - May. 2011
Photographer - Guo-min Lee

SHOP ADDRESS: UWOOD Co. LTD, a branch of Order Company / No.86-1, Sec. 1, Wenhua 1st Rd., Linkou Dist., New Taipei City 244, Taiwan


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