After twenty years on the interiors landscape, Tequila Kola remains a Hong Kong favourite
It’s probably best known for its sprawling showroom in venerable Horizon Plaza and the funky, off kilter font used in its logo, but October marks Tequila Kola’s 20th anniversary, and “HK’s extraordinary home store” seems to have matured into its position as local home furnishing’s elder statesman. So much so that it’s treating weekend browsers this month to tea, coffee, wine, snacks and margaritas. Okay there are no margaritas, but a girl can dream.
Founded in 1991 by creative director and head buyer Michelle Koller and managing director Geoff Fuller, Tequila Kola has made a name for itself with its elegantly eclectic selection for living, dining and bedrooms and home offices. The showroom is crowded with a diverse array of statement pieces, accents, linens and tableware. Indian-made chests with inlaid shell butt up against Designers Guild fabric headboards and the forthcoming Oxford collection for the academics among us. The various collections also mix and match the practical with the purely aesthetic. “We sell tons of Riedel, but there are people that don’t care about wine as much and they want a certain look,” explains Fuller referencing some odder shaped stemware. “That’s what accessories are for.”
Tequila Kola has come a long way since its 500-square foot Princes Building boutique and Fuller thinks Hong Kong shoppers have come just as far. “The market has definitely gotten more sophisticated. In the last 10 years it’s changed and in the last 5 dramatically. We do a lot of business now in China, and in Hong Kong. People here don’t tend to entertain at home, but they’re starting to,” he says.
The newest addition to the showroom floor is the Environment Collection, a series of beds, tables, consoles, storage units and desks made from Brazilian and Argentinean demolition hardwoods. Hand made in Mexico, the rustic items are constructed from peroba, curzeta, American black walnut and Peruvian black cedar, and as is the case with recycled materials, each is slightly different from the next. Did the pressure from competitors loudly touting their eco-friendly furniture prompt the decision to offer a similar line?
“Not really. We started with recycled teak. We’ve always used it. The reason we used it then was less ecological, though we’re not in favour of rainforests being torn down, to build things, not really,” Fuller deadpans. “The great thing about recycled teak, apart from the very pertinent environmental angle, is the colour’s richer, it’s weathered, well seasoned, it’s been out in the elements and you get less cracking. And it just looks better. We’ve used it the whole time.” While Fuller is quick to point out Tequila Kola’s eco-furnishings cred, he agrees that without some kind of metric — the Fairtrade label for instance — consumers trying to shop responsibly are often have no gauge. For that reason, the increasingly familiar “FSC” logo dots the store now. “Probably a third of our range is FSCapproved. We’ve had it for as long as it’s existed. But you’re right; people do need a label.”
So do Fuller and Koller have another room to add to the four they specialise in now? “I would love to do kitchens, and maybe bathrooms. It’s a whole different thing, but it’s sort of up our alley,” states Fuller. And he doesn’t worry about that turning Tequila Kola into an upmarket Ikea. “I love Ikea. I think it’s fantastic. We’d do it in our own way. We have our own standards that are pretty high.” He pauses to consider. “If we couldn’t, we wouldn’t.”