#theWanderlist: Ghetto x Chic = Fatty Crab

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So this just moved into the Ghetto area of Hong Kong… on the fabulous Old Bailey Street next to the future Central Police Station museum. Okay, it’s not quite as “Ghetto” as these photos look, but Fatty Crab, a new restaurant serving “bold South East Asian flavours”, will be bringing in the Noise and Da’ Funk with a new exterior and interior concept which connects its New York City roots with that of Hong Kong.

Designed by Candace Campos of ID, Campos states that she was inspired by South East Asian influences found in the cuisine for the 1,700 sq.ft. space. Everything was about the down low, with distressed walls (from the original condition of the building, not a faux add on), marble surfaces, tufted leather stools, exposed light bulb pendants, timber panelling, and for the men’s room… well a bit of “red light” flavour.

Not sure if it’s really a family establishment, but this is a place for those wanting to go wild with drinks and of course Chili Crab, Crispy Pork, Fatty Duck, and Smoked Ribs. Bar area seats 12 guests while main dining room seats 43 guests. Intimate and spicy.

EAT Fatty Crab, GF 11-13 Old Bailey Street, Central Hong Kong 2521-2033 / DESIGN ID Hong Kong

JJ.

 

Re-Discovering HK’s Central Streets via Ovolo Staycation

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Ovolo 2AR, Ovolo’s Boutique Hotel Flagship is now open for business.

Having had a reputation for being the top Boutique Serviced Apartment in Hong Kong for the last ten years, Ovolo has recognized that Hong Kong is evolving from a Financial Services capital to a more tourism focused city with projects like the CPS (Central Police Station Contemporary Art Museum), PMQ (Police Married Quarters), and WKCD (West Kowloon Cultural District) opening up in the next 5-8 years.

Ovolo’s new and existing properties are being transformed into Boutique Hotel Destinations, and rightly so. The most “Central” of them all is 2 Abuthnot Road, located snug amongst the hottest clubs like Dragon-i, dives like Salon10, restaurants like WAGYU, and galleries like 10 Chancery Lane. With these kinds of neighbors, it certainly makes more sense that this address caters to more Leisure Destination than it does for Business.

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That said there are days when working at home just drains me of inspiration, and sometimes I feel like I just need a change of scene. The last time I felt like this was around last month, exactly when I was contacted by Ovolo to spend a Saturday night in Central’s Ovolo 2AR. I immediately jumped at the offer… even just for the sake of changing my scene, getting out of the house, and keeping my sanity.

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For Hong Kong’s Latest Spanish Offerings, The Magic Comes in 3’s

When I first moved to Hong Kong many years ago I felt immediately that there was something missing in the cuisine. For Japanese, Regional Asian, Chinese, and Italian fare, Hong Kong had it in spades, but as someone who grew up in Texas where Mexican food is king and the Philippines where the post-colonial country still embraced its Spanish roots… what was missing for me was Hong Kong’s “Latin Flavor”.

Thankfully in this past year alone, we’ve witnessed a new trend of new modern Latin establishments which began with the opening of Heirloom (Mexican) in Sheung Wan and Comilonas (Spanish) in Sai Ying Pun. Since then, Latin restaurants have begun to make their definitive mark in the city’s culinary landscape, each special and different in their own way, offering unique menus and atmosphere catering to a variety tastes and occasions.

Mexican (Socialito, Brickhouse, Taco Chaca) and South American (Chicha) choices aside, I wanted to focus this post specifically on the city’s Spanish offerings because it just so happens that three of my most memorable dining experiences within the last few months just all so happened to be Spanish.. and beyond taco variations, there was just more amongst the three Spanish restos to write about in terms of differences in menu offerings, approaches, and ambiance.

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+ E-clectic / No Frills, Homestyle Spanish Dining Experience

A close  friend of mine, Chef Juan Martinez Gregorio, recently opened up his private kitchen, E-clectic centrally located on the edge of Sheung Wan, off Queens Road Central, located within walking distance to the MTR. The set up is no-frills with a vibe that is homey and domestic, a perfect backdrop for chef Juan’s dishes, a reflection of his hometown, Cartegena, in Southern Spain. Juan’s dream has always been to establish a Kitchen of his own in the city, serving dishes underrepresented in most Spanish restaurants.

I imagine patrons come here for the personal touch, with just enough space to mingle. For example our party of about 16 guests sat in the living room area for pre-drinks (no corkage) and tapas.

The dining area is prepared like a Chef’s Table, and is located in the center of the room next to the open kitchen where you can see Juan cook up a storm. You feel like this is really an extension of his own home.

Each day’s set menu is determined by the ingredients Juan is able to obtain on a daily basis. Usually all meals begin with sangria and a selection of basic tapas, such as the Manchego Semicurado Cheese and Sausage below.

Memorable staples stand out, like the house signature dish, the Empanada de Frito, a filo pastry stuffed with a tomato base sauce of olives, onions, and zucchini.

And the Spanish Piquillo Pepper Stuffed with Boiled Fish and Crispy Shrimps. It was absolutely divine.

I also enjoyed this cold soup, the Salmorejo de Cordoba… a cold tomato soup which complemented the hot dishes very well.

E-clectic is place to go if you want your dining experience completely private and up-close-and personal with the Chef. If you want the authentic Hong Kong style Private Kitchen, you’ll want to come here.

+ 22 Ships / Michelin Inventions Accessible Within Streetside Digs

You didn’t have to read my blog to know that 22 Ships is Hong Kong’s hottest new dining destination… yes… destination. Im sure you’ve already seen it all over Open Rice and Facebook. That said we were recently invited to have a taste at 22 Ships, Michelin Star Chef Jason Atherton’s first signature restaurant in Hong Kong, located in a refreshingly non-frou-frou street side locale on Wanchai’s Ship Street.

22 Ships is the brainchild of Yenn Wong, the entrepreneur behind the Phillipe Starck designed, JIA Boutique Hotel and 208 Duecento Otto Italian Restaurant in Sheung Wan designed by Turkish Design Firm, Autoban. For the restaurant’s cozy 35 seater venue, Wong hired award-winning Shanghai design firm, Neri & Hu Design Research Office (NHDRO), to formulate a concept that reflects the street’s historic and industrial vibe. What they came up with is a rustic yet urban atmosphere perfect for neighborhood drinks and al fresco tapas.

Perhaps the most impressive bit is how close and personal you are exactly to the chefs which run the joint. Adjacent to the drinks bar is the heart-of-house food prep area. You can witness your dishes plated and presented right in front of if you sit in the right seats at the bar towards the back. Since it’s a no-reservation system (much like all the newest venues in Hong Kong these days), you can’t request seats, but if you’re lucky enough to have one, like we did, it certainly adds to an unforgettable dining experience.

Some of my favorite dishes include the Spanish Breakfast, a creamy wallop of soft boiled egg, chopped chorizo, and potatoes.

A cool dish you have try is the Tuna Tartar “DIY”. The do-it-yourself dish consists of finely diced tuna with a selection of chives, shallots, sesame seeds, sea salt, olive oil, and sauce to sprinkle and flavour. There’s no such thing as over-sprinkling the dish… I sprinkled everything on and it all tasted great.

The Suckling Pig with Roasted Apple and Piquillo Pepper Jus had meat literally falling off the bone. It was served from the pan just right, not too hot. The best thing about it is that it was completely juicy, the skin just the right amount of crispness.

We ended the night with the sweet and salty PBJ, Peanut Ice Cream with Blue Fruit Sorbet, Raspberry, Blueberry, and Salted Peanut Caramel. So delicious.

Some hyped dishes like the Iberico Ham Infused Foie Gras Burgers and Scallop Ceviche were good, but for the steep price, there are better deals in the menu… ie. the quantity of food for the price of the dish. I can say this because there’s just so much selection to choose from. But definitely the price is warranted if you wanted higher-end modern Spanish plates via tasting menu portions, served in a non-pretentious environment. The down side, it’s a tiny venue with a no Reservation policy. So you cant pre plan big dinners here… which brings us to the next new Restaurant…

+ BOQUERIA / Authetic Barcelona Cuisine in Cool Family-Style Setting

BOQUERIA in Hong Kong serves up authentic Barcelona food, and is the sister branch of the original in New York City’s Flatiron district, a popular tapas destinations which the New York Times gave a 2-star rating.

The Hong Kong branch is much much larger than the New York one, and what it has going for it is the Open show Kitchen in the back where the Iberico meats and other ingredients are located, as well as the Island Bar in the middle. The very roomy location is great for big parties and gatherings, and a great place to meet up with plenty of friends and just hang out without people pressuring you to leave. For Architect Hernan Zanghellini, the focus was to reflect on community and the essence of the market. Large round and rectangular sharing tables define the open dining areas, and blackboards and textured walls reflect variety.

Chef David Izguierdo, ex Uno Mas (my favorite tapas spot in Wanchai back in the day) crafted the menus for both Hong Kong and New York which reflects his love for Catalonia tapas. Unlike 22 Ships and E-clectic where dishes are crafted in smaller plates, everything in Boqueria is big and meaty, appropos for real family style fare.

Below, Pella de Mariscos (Bomba rice, monkfish, sepia, squid, shrimp, clams, mussels, safron and salsa verde), and an order of Carne a la Plancha (Hanger steak, fingerling potatoes, shishito peppers, and mojo verde.)

The offering for Embutidos here is impressive. BOQUERIA serves up everything from Jamon Iberico below to other choices like the Chorizo Vela, a spicy pork sausage, and the Sobrasada, a soft pork sausage from Mallorca. You will not find a more complete collection of Jamon and Quesos in Hong Kong like this place.

Just a few fun snapshots from all the dinners…my girl Denise and Food Blogger Dan at BOQUERIA.

Bloggers Dan, ChristingC, and KWu at 22 Ships.

The Chefs proudly keeping up the fort at 22 Ships.

Fashion Editor Jing, Marika, and bag designer Michelle at E-clectic.

Our photo with Gierdre and Alex at E-Clectic.

Overly helpful fashion designer, Yuen-Man, with Chef Juan.

What are you waiting for? Go have a taste!

EAT E-clectic / EAT 22 Ships / EAT BOQUERIA

Thanks to photographer Andre Eichman for lending us the opening photo of BOQUERIA on this post!

JJ.

Hot Balmy Nights Call For Cool Vodka Inventions

I know the word “speakeasy” is easily spoken to describe any out-of-the-way bar destinations in this day and age, but the new tucked away bar with a fantastic outdoor deck, Wyndham on the 4th, is just a perfect example of the secret “speakeasy” trend.

To their credit, Wyndham on the 4th and its star mixologist, Tom Wood, never described the bar as such, but to a growing number of Hong Konger’s repelled by super-clubs with questionable clientele, anything “speakeasy” is actually a breath of fresh air.

ChristingC, her partner Dan, and I were recently invited by the 24hour concierge group, Quintessentially, for happy hour cocktails care of CIROC Vodka at Wyndham on the 4th and I was just impressed. The interiors were modern yet whimsical, there was space, it was clean, and most of all, the drinks that night were perfect concoctions. We all had three kinds of refreshing CIROC Vodka cocktails perfect for drinking under the starts on a warm balmy Hong Kong evening.

We all learned plenty about the history of vodka  and all its incarnations. The CIROC Brand is the first premium vodka from France to be created with wine production methods and five times distilled for that crisp fresh flavour and amazing aroma… I know… I whiffed plenty of it in the first go. 

Overall I was impressed. CIROC is also good to drink straight up or on the rocks, but I prefer it with a bit of tonic and and lime.

I’ll definitely come back to Wyndham on the 4th. It’s really a perfect getaway, and in addition, the branding and aesthetics, quite well done, was produced by Danielle Huthart at WHITESPACE Design. I had no idea until she told me on Instagram that was one of her projects. It’s great work.

Im now itching for some CIROC under the stars and on those big back-lit potted plant bar tables. The weather is starting to agree with me…

PARTY Wyndham on the 4th / DRINK CIROC Vodka 

JJ.

A Taipei Story; Brought to you by Brew&Post (Part 1)

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Our not-so-little blog network, Brew&Post, is now in business, and within a week of our celebratory launch party, this band of bloggers jetted of to Taipei, Hong Kong’s cuter and quite charming next door neighbor, for a bit of much needed rest and relaxation.

Taipei, the capital city of the Republic of China (Taiwan), is home to more than 2.6 million individuals, most of whom are quite fashion savvy in their own way, and who love shopping and eating in trendy establishments defined by current styles and interiors which reflect a fusion of the latest in Japanese, Chinese, and Korean design culture… but all uniquely Taiwanese.

Taipei 101 Tower, shot from Simple Market (via theW+ INSTAGRAM)

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The energy and the development growth visible in Taipei’s urban and rural fabric represent an economic progress present all over Asia, which is very much evident when you’re on the ground seeing things for yourself around this generally low-rise city.

Road to Taipei from Airport (via theW+ INSTAGRAM)

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Taipei’s close proximity to Hong Kong, inexpensive flight and hotel options, and its stature as a regional pop culture and design capital made it an easy choice for a Special Brew&Post group weekender.

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We decided to catch a very early flight in order to get started in Taipei as soon as possible. Unfortunately we spent a long time at the airport because we overestimated the departure time as hardly anyone was checking in so early in the morning. Moreover the flight was delayed by about an hour so it was direct to to the Plaza Premium Lounge where we were invited to just chill out and have a warm snack before the flight.

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People were NOT happy about the delay. There were a few Youtube worthy customers having end-of-the-world-tantrums spotted… and rightly so… everyone wanted to get to Taipei ASAP including us!

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The last time I went to Taipei was about a three years ago. And for sure the airport didnt look like this when I last visited!

(via theW+ INSTAGRAM)

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Finally the gang settled in at the Park Hotel, a nicely designed contemporary hotel that is big on service, perfect for location, good enough on design, and overall more than a great value for the price. We were surrounded by strong free wifi in every space and room… it was heaven.

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Around the corner from the hotel was a mom and pop beef noodles operation that came strongly recommended by the concierge. A good thing too, the meal was absolutely divine.

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Every meal came with unlimited amounts of grass jelly drinks. The noodles were Taiwanese style, very chewy and thick. The beef tendons were superb.

Food is a big deal in Taipei. Everyone who visits the city knows that you cant say “no” to any and every offering available. Derek of ZTYLISTAS was super excited about this pastry shop which served all types of Taiwanese/Japanese Sesame Flaky Shortbread Pastries. They gave out unlimited amounts of free samples to try. It was intense.

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The shop, in english called RED SAKURA, is filled with sweets and treats, from Hello Kitty themed buns, to pastries stuffed with anything from almond paste to yams. Plenty of gift boxes to bring back home to friends and loved ones.

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I was such a big fan, I bought loads of boxes, and was willing to even hold up the free tastings sign out front.

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Trip Advisor and general guidebooks will tell you to go to shop and hang out at Ximending Japanese style shopping district. But if you read this blog and you generally like what I like and hate what I hate, chances are, you’ll hate Ximending. So don’t waste your time there and check out the neighborhoods and side streets that branch out Zhongxiao East Road instead, home to Taipei’s coolest and newest independent clothing boutiques.

Taiwanese people love to dress up and get their photos taken on the streets here in Zhongxiao.

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Western shops that want to make a name for themselves yet keep their “it” factor, operate flagships in this neighborhood. Justin Timberlake’s WilliamRast store has a flagship here.

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I love this shop. It’s a boutique outlet that sells everything from high concept fashions to homewares. French scented oil candles from Cire Trudon, were dirt cheap this weekend. The store is called WOW Outlet and is located where the old TaipeiUC (Undercover by Jun Takahashi) store and noodle shop used to be.

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A few doors down, is a boutique wasteland of cool art and design books, plus knickknacks and goods, cheesy yet sublime, called VVG Something.

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The amount of vintage wares in there was completely impressive. In addition the books were mostly of the intellectual coffee table variety with subjects focused on style, art, design, and photography, titles which are generally hard to find and source in Asia.

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A copy of Visionaire to the left, as well as a Ryan McGinley book to the right. You may remember the cover of the McGinley volume was used for a Sigur Ros album cover.

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ChristingC. was exhausted.

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For the rougher gentlemen, we discovered the Red Wing Shoes flagship store around the corner. Jason Lam TOUGHLOVE was ecstatic.

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Taiwanese shops and boutiques have a very good sense of aesthetic focus. Most all places we’ve seen don’t rely on faux flash and pizazz to make a statement. Palettes are generally kept neutral and clean with barefaced concrete and timber finishes. All keeping a down to earth yet natural vibe.

This is the Red Wing Shoes store facade. So nice.

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After a long walk around, we settled into one of the coffee shops in the district, Coffee Tree, for a re-group and a general team meeting.

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The space was clean, nice, domestic, and very much a Taiwanese coffee bar experience.

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I had the rose lychee tea.

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Jason had a manly mango slushy drink worthy of the moniker “TOUGHLOVE”.

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We ended the first day at a famous hotpot joint, Tai Ho Dien, with ChristingC and her cousin, a popstarlet named, Katie of ROOMIE, a girl pop act.

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The yin-yang style hotpot was extremely delicious. One side was served with a spicy pig’s blood and the other was a non-spicy house stew.

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Delicious. We filled the hotpot with dumplings, tofu, beef tendons, and steaks. It was a perfect way to end our first day, in true Taiwanese fashion.

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However a day in Taipei doesn’t end without a nightcap drinking local-style! The hottest place at the moment is apparently Fourplay were the city’s party crowd go for a quieter and more intimate drinking atmosphere.

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We were treated to shots of caramelized pineapples, oranges, and strawberries, and cocktail concoctions that at this point, I cant even remember what they were. I was beyond my limit for the night.

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A few shots of some B&P’ers on the streets… Denise of SUPERWOWOMG and Jason of TOUGHLOVE.

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And a great one I took earlier of my roommate Carmen of HIMYS.

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Other images… I love Taipei’s low rise urbanism. It’s a really refreshing change compared to Hong Kong.

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And lastly viral KPOP video, Gangnam Style, hits Taipei’s taxis.

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What a perfect city.

REFRESH Plaza Premium Lounge @ HKIA / STAY Park Hotel Taipei / GIFT Red Sakura Pastries / SHOP VVG Something / SHOP Red Wing Shoes / DRINK Coffee Tree / EAT Tai Ho Dien / DRINK Fourplay

JJ.

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:

http://www.worldexpo2012.com

http://www.utwentysix.com

JJ.

Design Notes: Creative Cave by Vivienne Tam x Hotel ICON

Today I was just telling a friend who was really struggling with her creative direction in life. The funny thing is, she took a much needed break… a week off from work only to NOT leave the house and instead play with her cat. I stopped by because I was a bit worried, she really wants an idea or a clue about what big step to make.

But question, how can you make a big step if you don’t leave your house?

Go to the mountains… go to a yoga retreat… go to Lantau Island… heck go to the Philippines, it’s more fun there apparently. Because truthfully, perspective and a change of scene make a difference.

BUT, if you’ve got a cat and can’t devote too much time away from home, how about a staycation at a creative place completely different from your house.

Hotel ICON, the creative hotel designed by Hong Kong’s star creatives, for the creative person in you, has just completed a beautiful suite designed by Fashion icon, Vivienne Tam. 

And speaking of perspective, the suite is set against the sweeping views of an equally iconic feature of Hong Kong, its skyline. The 80 square meter pad located on the 27th floor of the hotel references modern design, Chinese accents and the principles of feng shui to render the room an effortless elegance and chic simplicity. While the signature “China Chic” is evidenced everywhere, underpinned by a palette of rich woods and textured marble. 

It is both a peek into Vivienne Tam’s private world and an expression of her ideal proverbial home-away-from-home. 

Other features include high ceilings inspired by traditional Chinese screens, a Shanghainese Art Deco bedroom, a porcelain plaque personally selected from the designer’s New York apartment (above), and an ultra-stylish “Ploum” sofa by Bouroullec Brothers, as well as a solid Japanese-cherry wood table.

If you ever need that creative getaway… grab your sketchbook, copy of the Artist’s Way and Zaha Hadid, and Macbook Pro and get over there. In true Hotel ICON fashion, you get wired and wifi services free, king bed, free bar snacks and drinks, nespresso coffee machine, laser printer, breakfast and a bunch of other stuff that may keep you from actually doing the creative work you need to do. Which reminds me… ask about the Vivienne Tam Urban Retreat package.

Hotel ICON / 17 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon, Hong Kong / Hotel ICON ONLINE

JJ.

Design Notes: Hi-Tech Japanese Styling in New Boutique Hotel by Ovolo

Go to the Ovolo Hotels website and one thing that they really tout is their motto; “Shiny, Happy, People”. The Shine comes in the form of all inclusive full lifestyle services that come in addition to your room and bed, namely full free wifi (which apparently we still have to pay for in most hotels), complimentary breakfast and happy hour cocktails, Apple TV, X-Box, Wii at request, a Gym that’s always opened 7 days a week, and an umbrella when its raining.  The Happy is the ability to get discounts and good deals all over the city with your Ovolo Key Card, and the 24-hour reception team that will handle anything a guest needs from itineraries to reservations. The People is the team behind the Ovolo Group who are willing to make a pleasant experience for a growing demand in the region’s sophisticated business and casual travelers.

Lo Lounge at Ovolo 286 QRC, Below. Designed by KplusK.

Originally a Serviced Apartment operator, Ovolo has teamed up with Hong Kong’s coolest boutique hospitality design firm, KplusK Associates, to develop the next feather in their cap, Ovolo 286 QRC encompassing the “Shiny Happy People” concept with their new hotel idea.

This 60 room, Japanese-styled hotel includes the Lo Lounge, a 24-hour space where guests can work, network, and mingle from breakfast, to happy hour, and all night long. The Ovolo 286 Gym is open 7 days a week and operates a round the clock so you wouldn’t have to worry about scheduling exercise between meeting agendas. Everything else is free, the breakfast, self-laundry, mini-bar, as well as all the tech in the room from wifi to game consoles.

"All in" Guestroom Concepts with plenty of daylight at Ovolo 286 QRC, Below. Designed by KplusK.

This hotel marks the 4th in Ovolo’s collection, with others located on Aburthnot Road in Central, Shek Pai Wan Road in Aberdeen, Tung Chau Street in West Kowloon, with a future hotel opening Spring of next year at the Southside.

I say, it’s a good thing too. With business and creativity booming in the city, and the influx of tourists and visitors, we need more boutique hotels and options for stay. I feel that Bangkok and Taipei trumps every other Asian city today for boutique hotel options. Meanwhile I challenge other boutique hotels in the city to size up… visitors are getting more sophisticated about what they need and want in their experiences and we can start with free wifi, great bathrooms, and a very helpful staff. Can’t wait to recommend Ovolo to visiting friends!

Plush Bath at Ovolo 286 QRC, Below. Designed by KplusK.

Dramatic Corridors at Ovolo 286 QRC

Ovolo 286 QRC Opens for operation Monday, June 4th, 2012. Superior Queen/Twin start at HKD$1,200/night. Deluxe Queen start at HKD$1,500/night. All prices are inclusive of breakfast, Happy Hour drinks, in-room snacks, local calls, high-speed wifi, and use of Ovolo’s facilities including a 24-hour gym and laundry service.

Ovolo 286 QRC at 286 Queen’s Road Central, Central, Hong Kong / http://www.ovologroup.com

JJ.

When Old World Is Considered a Fresh Idea, a Chat With Claud Cecil Gurney of de Gournay

(Above, Claud Cecil Gurney)

When I was a young architecture student learning how to design my first houses… or “Dwellings” as they were then called, we were instructed to focus entirely on constructs and abstract compositions. To laymen, it basically meant the houses we learned to design in school didn’t look much like a house in the traditional sense. It was basically a series of planes with cuts and slits and openings with hardly any color (we werent allowed to use color except the color of balsa wood, white gesso, or styrofoam.) Basically we never designed anything in school that would be suitable for your mom to live in.

It really didn’t help that by the time we graduated architecture school, none of us knew how to even make the houses/spaces we lived in any closer to an ideal “home” than when we first got to school. That said, everything about the incorporation of color, texture, materials, fabric, in order to “make a space” was something to be learned beyond school. We were playing catch up with Interior Designers basically.

As an example, we never learned how to make bathrooms look like they were right in the middle of nature using simple motifs and the right paint colors…

Or a living room that feels so light…

The images above were taken in the London home of the fabulous Claud Cecil Gurney, the owner and founder of the acclaimed bespoke home finishings brand, de Gournay.

While some would call his home “classical”, the way colors, prints, fabrics, and natural daylight are composed and layered to create and frame the room’s seemingly expansive spaces is anything but traditional. In fact the use of antique prints and bespoke motifs on planar elements are quite sophisticated and indeed modern in application. The spaces are uncluttered and the “gilded” objects are few and framed by surfaces.

I wish we had the opportunity to play a bit more in Architecture School.

Grand, yet soft dining area. Home of Claud Cecil Gurney (via de Gournay)

Claud began his business of making hand crafted / hand painted bespoke wallpapers, fabrics, and porcelain after working on a room for his home in London. That was in 1984 when he set up the business using skilled labourers from the then very different Mainland China. Today Claud has 4 studios in operation with over 180 artists focused on hand painting. His studio produces work based on actual archives and research of 18th and 19th Century designs from Europe and “the Orient”… of course some with a twist to fit the home owner’s needs.

Recently we took the chance to have a chat with Claud Cecil Gurney briefly about his London home that I love so much and his brand, de Gournay’s focus on adding a touch of “history” to the modern home.

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W+: Thanks so much for sitting down with theWanderlister+ Asia! Tell us about your brand, de Gournay. What does your company do and where is the company based?

CCG: We are based in London & Paris but also a bit all around the world.  Our inspiration is mainly from 18th century France and England although it is adapted and changed to fit more contemporary settings.  We bring happiness into people’s lives by creating for them light, bright, vibrant and happy interiors where they can find refuge from the busy world of markets and events. Each of our interiors is a work of art hand-painted to meet the needs of discerning clients.

W+: Speaking of “light, bright, and vibrant” interiors… tell us about your London home. It’s really quite beautiful…

CCG: The London home is a pied-a-terre in Knightsbridge in a calm quiet and peaceful Mews just a stone’s throw from Harrods and Hyde Park but so quiet and peaceful that one could be in the country.  It has 4 bedrooms and bathrooms and 2 reception rooms over 4 floors with a drawing room with an East/West aspect on the 2nd floor.  It was entirely designed by me with some help from a friend, Nicolas Rakic, to bring the most light possible into the entire house and was also built by myself with an Irish foreman doing most of the work.

Its a jungle inside. Home of Claud Cecile Gurney (via de Gournay)

W+: How did you decide on what kind of decoration to pursue with each room? What are the general challenges regarding the design and aesthetics? And are you happy with the outcome?

CCG: One is never happy with one’s own house as one always sees the things that still remain to be done but one is happy that others say nice things and mostly fail to notice how many improvements remain to be completed. The challenge was to keep all the spaces light and open and uncluttered and happy whilst using colour and design and avoiding black and white and minimalism.  It has to be elegant yet comfortable, happy yet functional, tranquil yet warm - in fact it has to provide a backdrop against which one can rest and read and think and entertain… I am fairly happy but I am sure the next house will be better…

Very light prints, yet lush. Home of Claud Cecil Gurney (via de Gournay)

W+: You should be happy, we all wish to have a house  we can be creative with as you have… and in a neighborhood with so much history! Out of all your projects around the world, which one is your favorite? Does your London House fit into the list?

CCG: My house in London is unique in being contemporary with an eclectic decoration. My apartment in Moscow is very traditional. My country house in England is also very traditional and Tudor and my farm on the beach in Croatia is designed to use only the materials and flora native to the region and to blend in perfectly with nature.  Each project requires a different solution and I hope that it is only the quality, the use of vibrant colours and the happiness that are common themes throughout. 

Bold colors in the office. Home of Claud Cecil Gurney (via de Gournay)

W+: Tell us, do you have any projects in Asia? And how do you think de Gournay can fit into the Asian/China/HK Market?

CCG: It is hard to find Asians who do not fall in love with our projects but many have been led to believe that all luxury is Italian or French based and has to be imported.  Once we establish relationships with Asian clients they remain faithful to our products wherever they have projects all over the world and they introduce us to their friends - so many of the richest families in Asia do now use us but it would be indiscrete to mention their names. Once you fall in love with de Gournay it is forever.  

W+: Do you offer custom services to clients within the Asian region?

CCG: Yes over half our projects are custom and we have a design team working full time on Asian projects with immense archives of both historic documents and completed projects which we can share with clients who are wanting to decorate a ballroom or a bathroom as required.  

Asian themes. Home of Claud Cecil Gurney (via de Gournay)

W+: What inspired you to start this brand? And what continually inspires your collection?

CCG: My inspiration comes mainly from the 18th century European fascination for all things Oriental - Chinese & Japanese porcelain, Chinese silk, Chinese tea and painting, Korean & Japanese Kimonos and hand-painted screens and Indian Moghul painting - the lost if inspiration in the East is never-ending as all good taste and design originated there whilst the Europeans were still living in caves.  There is still so much to learn and every trip to the Far East opens up new doors and perceptions to me.

Pastoral Scenes. Home of Claud Cecil Gurney (via de Gournay)

W+: Some of our readers will be inspired by your London Home. What is your biggest advice for readers who are going towards a more bespoke look for homes rather than modern/contemporary/minimalist direction? How can de Gournay help?

CCG: We have a team of designers who will be able to help anyone to create their own beautiful interiors. Our greatest accolade is when our clients work with us to such an extent that, at the need of the project, they can say that they themselves designed their interiors and that they had them painted by de Gournay. Modern/contemporary need not look like a cold black and white interior of an hotel - colour and design has always been and should always be used to make an interior harmonious and peaceful and happy.

W+: Amen to that. Thanks for the chat!

—————

By 2011 de Gournay has expanded into 39 countries with showrooms from Paris to Moscow and from Shanghai to Istanbul. Today, adventurous as ever, Claud Cecil Gurney continues to travel far and wide, inspired by the arts, both traditional and contemporary, in the many countries he visits, while at home the company remains very much a family business, ensuring a warm and intimate atmosphere.

For further information, samples from the collections, images or to arrange interviews with the company’s directors:

CONTACT Hannah Cecil Gurney / TEL + 44 (0) 207 3498 339 / EMAIL hannah@degournay.com / ONLINE www.degournay.com

JJ.

Design Notes: Jungle Fever at AMMO

Two weeks ago, a group of us were invited to go to the newly opened Asia Society Hong Kong Center by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien Architects in Admiralty to check out its just-launched signature restaurant and bar, aptly named AMMO.

I’ve posted about the new Asia Society museum on this blog before, and what makes this building uniquely different from other new museums of its class is that the building is set deep within an actual urban jungle, a lush green heritage site of a former explosives magazine compound from the mid-19th century (hence the name.)

AMMO, a slang term of ammunition, is a supposed acronym for “Asia, Modern, Museum, and Original”, all the concept notes utilized by chef and restauranteur Tony Cheng and interior designer Joyce Wang of WANG, a boutique design practice fresh off its renovation of the historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in LA.

Of course it’s all about the marriage of East and West thematically from the food (ie. Cuttlefish Cappuccino, my favorite), to the cocktails (Kiwi Basil Martini), and of course the interiors, a lush sci-fi inspired stage made of Hong Kong style copper plumbing pipes.

We had a quick chat with Joyce Wang at the AMMO launch and she explained to us the concept of her design, and pointed out how most of the elements that made the wall and ceiling fixtures were indeed made of these copper plumbing pipes and fixed together with general attachments for pipes found in Hardware Stores. She was laughing about how it took a while to convince the contractor that while the ideas may be unconventional and new, it’s quite easy to put together in the end.

Each of the feature light fixtures represent a component of a spiral staircase, and there are three of them; the risers, the steps, and the handrail. I can only imagine what the contractor must have felt after receiving the drawings for the first time. :)

The bespoke furniture is luxurious. Plush sofa seats surround the glass box restaurant, with every seat having a great view of the lush tropical environment around it. Two large counter tables are situated in the middle of the room with plenty of bar stools, making it hospitable for large groups of friends, or to share with someone new.

Much of our preview snacks “Tapa Bite” versions of menu dishes paired with signature cocktails. I thought the drinks were quite good, but I wouldn’t say I’ve had enough of the Tapas to really make a judgement of the food… however I enjoyed the Braised Angus Oxtail and Oxtail Meatballs which I found juicy and tasty.

A few of of my Instagram Images from that night… one of the custom light sculptures from below.

Friends checking out AMMO with me; designer RonWan, and Lifestyle Asia’s Andy aka. Misteryeo. Check out what i’m wearing around my neck…

An “AMMO” USB Stick!

Fashyon.

AMMO at Asia Society Hong Kong Center / 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty, HK /
TEL: +852 2537 9888 / HOURS: 11:30a.m-12:00a.m (Sunday to Thursday) 11:30a.m-01:00a.m (Friday, Saturday and day before public holiday)

http://www.joycewang.com/

JJ.