Tuscan style for Hong Kong residencesAfter relocating with her husband almost 20 years ago, Kikka Meucci, director of internationally active Class K, has never really given up her Italian aesthetic, and it shows in her typically graceful Italian-esque interiors. She’s just made them work for Hong Kong. Meucci chats with Square Foot.

How did you get from Italy to Hong Kong?
I studied in Florence and I have a degree in architecture, but I would up doing more interiors because it turned out to be what I like. Class K has only been open for a few years, but I used to work under another name. My husband and I had just gotten married and he got a job opportunity here. I didn’t know anything about Asia at the time, but my dream was to live abroad and learn something. I’ve been here for 17 years now. It’s a great place to live and it’s easy to get spoilt.

What do you focus on with Class K?
I do residential, which is my favourite. To help someone design a comfortable environment to live in is a great achievement, especially in a stressful city like this. But I also do office space. When I look at some offices … it looks so miserable. It looks like storage space and the energy flow is just not that good. So offices are also interesting work.

Coming from a place like Florence must have made what you see here frustrating.

Exactly. I found the space planning terrible — regardless of whether it’s 6,000-square foot house on the Peak or a tiny flat in Causeway Bay. It’s a fundamental problem and it’s one of my strengths — being able to make a space appealing as well as functional.

Past Projects
Which of your projects really stand out in your memory?

We’re currently working on a heritage house in Berlin. It’s a dream house for the client and so in a way it’s a dream job for us. There are 50 rooms and it’s surrounded by a lake; they want a gym and a spa in a historical building. It’s just amazing. That’s one thing I miss. The tendency here is to tear old things down. Unfortunately it’s still not legal to convert industrial buildings to residential and I think that’s a missed opportunity. It’s not just a price issue but also a lifestyle issue and I think it would be fantastic. And it would also avoid waste in energy and materials to convert instead of rebuild.

Can you describe your style or process?
Showing off my style is not my character. It’s not my home. But in a way you can see a signature style in my work. I would say contemporary and timeless. I like knowing a project I did 10 years ago is still enjoyed and no one has gotten tired of the look. It’s the reason I like to sit and talk with clients extensively first. I’m sure everyone will tell you that, but it’s important to understand what [clients] like and what they need — because sometimes they’re totally different. It’s like having a successful marriage: you find a way to get the best out of your partner and we try to get the best out of our clients.

In a way what makes us different from other studios is that I love my job. I love what I’m doing. I’ve wanted to do this since I was 11. We have a lot of repeat clients and word-of-mouth clients and we don’t have any quality problems. We control everything and we have a very good relationship with our suppliers, which we’ve worked with for a long time.

Do you think the “green” interiors have gotten past a trend and into the standard yet?

Everywhere in Europe and probably North America and Australia you get some kind of incentive to be “green.” If you create more power than you use you get refunds. You have all these flat roofs here and no green rooftops. I read recently that Chicago has more green rooftops than anywhere in the world … I’m trying to use more eco-friendly materials but I’m finding a lot of, what should I say, impediments from the government here.