When we head south in search of couches and candleholders, most of us consider the end of the line to be Horizon Plaza. That’s a fair assessment, but a few steps beyond that great hall of interiors is the Oceanic Industrial Centre. A nondescript concrete block much like Horizon, the OIC is home to a few other home furnishings suppliers for the intrepid shopper to investigate. Among them is the 18-month old Bowerbird Home.
The first thing that jumps out when you walk into Bowerbird is the seemingly controlled chaos of the store. But look closer and a pattern emerges — major living and dining room pieces, ceramics and accessories on one side, lighting overhead and, appropriately on end tables and so on. It’s a lot for the eye to take in, but it makes for a treasure hunt vibe that rewards looking carefully at what’s in front of you. “I want the space to be more original and to be constantly changing. I want a visual experience, not just a shopping one,” explains Philippa Haydon, Bowerbird’s founder and director. She’s got it. She’s also got a lot of blue, which comes with a more prosaic explanation. “I like blue and white, particularly in porcelain, and I found it hard to get.”
The native New Zealander, naturalised Australian and long time Hong Kong resident named the shop for the eclectic, blue Australian bird that typically sees the male of the species elaborately decorating his nest in the hopes of attracting a mate (humans take note). For Haydon, her stock will ideally be, “classic, elegant, but mixed up,” and will never come close to recalling a serviced apartment. To that end, Haydon stocks a limited, constantly rotating range of interiors items — sofas, easy chairs, oak and acacia dining tables in a range of (often adaptable) sizes, porcelain accessories, cabinetry, desks, vanities, lighting, coffee tables and more — that are sourced from all over the world. After eight years in finance, Haydon “just couldn’t do it anymore” and ventured off into a more artistic industry.
“I’ve always had an idea in my head about what I’d like to do. I studied film and photography,” explains Haydon of why she opened Bowerbird. “It’s more like a wholesale store [in that] people walk through and take a look around. I’m very clear about the direction we go. This is a very personal experience and I want [customers] to come in and have a coffee and a chat.” Bowerbird is open to the public (call before you venture down) but the bulk of Haydon’s business right now comes from designers looking for something a little different, well made and on a budget. Bottom line, Bowerbird aims to supply items for those of us who care about our homes, an increasing trend in Hong Kong; we do more there than sleep and shower. “My market is people that are not going out all the time. They like to spend time at home and are willing to put some work into it.”
And yes, Bowerbird never drifts into the range of outrageous prices, which can be found by scanning the QR code while you browse (really, a cushy $800 armchair fit for a nap), along with materials and dimensions. Haydon will also help out with suggestions and advice for the more clueless among us while in the store. Which is why it’s a good idea to call ahead. “It’s a much more personal experience … I don’t want sales assistants with a commission structure and no interest in what the customer really needs.”