Hong Kong artisanal home decor purveyor LALA CURIO is best known for its inimitably rich aesthetic. Founder Laura Cheung draws on three generations’ worth of expertise; her grandparents were in antiquities and then in manufacturing. From that, combined with Cheung’s interior design training in London and New York and her relentless inquiries into the crafts of cloisonné, embroidery, and other techniques, the brand’s lines of beautifully handmade homeware were born.
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It would be easy enough to conclude that LALA CURIO’s creations are best used in only the most expansive homes. When Cheung was commissioned by her sister to design her new apartment — a humble 400-square-foot one-bedroom unit in Wan Chai — she saw it as the perfect opportunity to challenge this view. “We wanted to make a point,” she said. “Everyone thinks LALA CURIO is reserved for ultra lavish, huge houses on The Peak, but we wanted to show that we are versatile.” Rather than compromising her aesthetic, she brought the best of the brand to the home — hand-painted wallpapers and antique furnishings — but simply adapting them to fit a smaller space. “Just because the space is tiny, it doesn’t have to be minimal to be efficient,” she declared. The home is kitted out with plenty of discreet storage and ingenious fixtures from an elevated, hydraulic bed with storage to a TV unit with an arm that allows the TV to swivel out.
The space was already completely gutted when the homeowner decided to take it, giving Cheung free reign to design it from scratch. The client was also very hands off, leaving the design direction largely up to Cheung. She decided to take inspiration from the home’s surrounding neighbourhood. “It’s right next to Lee Tung Avenue, which was redone to look more heritage,” she explained. “The concept was to do a colonial yet Chinese apartment.”
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Creating a different experience in each area
Cheung devoted equal amounts of care and attention to each room in the flat, “creating a different experience in each area”. The entrance opens into the living room, which is “amplified” by a gold-studded, floor-to-ceiling antique mirror, creating the illusion of more space. The open kitchen leads into the dining area. “We changed the floor material to old-world tiles that you’d see at a cha chaan teng,” she says. The dining area is where you’ll find the pièce de résistance of the abode, according to Cheung — the exquisite golden hand-painted wallpaper featuring a bauhinia tree. The wallpaper in the bedroom — a dirty pink hue featuring a hilly landscape done up with pearls — is also of note. The client’s favourite space in the home, however, is the bathroom, with its white marble, brass doors, and stained glass shower partition.
But the apartment isn’t yet done — next on the agenda is doing up the impressive 1,200-square-foot terrace, which connects with the kitchen, thanks to a continuous bar table that leads through the window. Unfortunately, the building complex’s schedule must be accommodated, as outdoor renovations will be ongoing for the next few months. Cheung has big plans for when she can continue her work on it. “The idea is to extend the living room space into an outdoor seating space,” she said. “It’ll be decorated to make it warmer and to feel like a living space, not just an outdoor lounge.” With that finishing touch, the home will be an ideal love letter to lavish living.
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