Steve is new to Hong Kong, but he’s blessed with a perk-laden corporate job that allows him a spacious, well-designed flat (!) in an old Causeway Bay walk-up. The thing is, the dining area is an odd L-shaped corner of sorts. He could use the space as a sitting room or a quasi-library by sticking a few bookshelves there but really, it’s a perfect dining room space — particularly for someone who enjoys entertaining at home. “I like to cook and throw parties and stuff so I want a dining room that could work either for a buffet table or a sit-down dinner,” says Steve. Needless to say, furnishing it was the challenge.
After trekking through Horizon Plaza, hitting Queen’s Road East and Hung Hom and browsing traditional retailers both affordable (IKEA) and high-end (Lane Crawford Home) a friend suggested he check out the custom furniture makers in Macau as he was heading there for a weekend. The only caveats: make sure you bring measurements of your home and know what it is you want.
“That was a wonder. They had a bunch of stuff on display that I sort of liked, but it’s all Ming Dynasty style. That might be okay for one piece but I didn’t want the whole apartment done like that. When I said I didn’t like the legs and the fancy carving on the front of a cabinet they said no problem — they’d change both. Then they let me do the same thing with the chair back, handles on the sideboard, everything. A few weeks later I got it all delivered to my home. In Hong Kong.”
Steve wound up outfitting his entire flat — a dining set anchored by a three-metre table for 12, custom sectional sofa, bedroom suite, cabinets — for around $50,000. He opted for a dark stained teak with a high gloss finish and memory foam on the sofa. Most of the items have the vaguest Chinese accents but the final product looks wholly contemporary. Everything is just the right size and it costs a fraction of what it might have in Hong Kong. Macau’s bespoke furniture manufacturers are well known to natives and long time residents, and they remain a popular choice for hard to find accent pieces (like rocking chairs), smaller items and, obviously, Chinese style furniture. The little street leading up to the ruins of St Paul’s Cathedral is dotted with scores of furniture makers (many doing so as wholesalers or suppliers too) so depending on how patient you are, how hot it is and your level of Cantonese it would be easy to spend an afternoon browsing each shop and sussing out whose works suits you best. Some shops will take orders by email (for knock offs or items from their own catalogues) and most deliver completed product in about four weeks, give or take time for detailing that’s requested, odd materials that might be needed, size and volume. The styles aren’t for everybody and — buyer beware — there have been charges of shoddy quality in the past, but something has to be right. They’re still there.