The Softer Side of Living

Gail Arlidge Design revels in the soft interiors and small details that make a space a home

From its Wanchai office, Gail Arlidge Design has been bucking labels and trends since its foundation in the early-1990s. A portfolio stretching from Australia to Singapore, the United States to New Zealand has consistently melded glamour with simplicity in sleek, personalised spaces. Square Foot chats with Katish Arlidge-Hung.

Do you have a particular area of expertise?
For me, the most enjoyable part of putting together a total interior scheme is selecting fabrics for soft furnishings, designing custom-made furniture pieces and completing the whole look with accessories. It gives me a chance to interact with our clients, understand their requirements and then tailor a solution specifically for them.

You give a great deal of consideration to feng shui. How do you reconcile that with designing interiors?
Being based in Asia, particularly Hong Kong, many of ourclients are aware and comfortable with using feng shui in their homes. We normally reflect this by incorporating the principles offeng shui into the layout and placement of furniture in a room. This can also go as far as the colour palette used for both the space and soft furnishings.

What’s the most challenging request you’ve received?
A request to furnish the interior of a motorboat. This was due to the unusual size and shape of the rooms and we had to incorporate some existing built-in furniture. For instance, all the bedding in the bedrooms had to be custom-made as the shape of the beds and mattresses were [irregular]. Also, the shape and size of the windows on a boat are different to those found in a home. For this project, we had to select durable materials that could withstand the harsh environment on a boat such as heavy sunlight and exposure to salt water.

What makes working in Hong Kong spaces unique?
Hong Kong is unique because the spaces are small and often unusual shapes. You would be amazed by the dimensions of rooms in modern apartments and it is our job to make them as comfortable and liveable as possible.

There’s an impression out there that interior design is only for the wealthy. How do you deal with clients on a tight budget?
For clients on a tighter budget, we try to prioritise what they need. With a smaller budget it is essential to select the key spaces, elements and themes that are most important to our client. We often analyse their current layout, furnishings and decorations to try to enhance what the client already has, instead of starting completely from scratch.

You also do exteriors? Aside from the obvious, how does that differ?
For exterior spaces such as balconies and terraces our major concern is using materials and furnishings that can be exposed to the elements. We choose fabrics that are waterproof and fade-resistant and both fabrics and furnishings need to be durable. We also try to use landscaping and greenery to enhance the atmosphere. Being in a crowded city we always encourage clients lucky enough to have an outdoor space to use as much greenery as possible.