Vintage style, whatever the item may be, has never really been uncool. Well, maybe it was back in Tudor England when anything (art aside) from, say, the early Middle Ages was just gross. But Ray-Ban still makes its “vintage” Aviator sunglasses, a bed & breakfast decorated with antiques is expected and all the hippest characters on television drive vintage cars. Hong Kong is largely fond of all things shiny and new, but the tide is turning ever so slowly.
Nestled in industrial (also becoming “cool”) Chai Wan is Casa Capriz, the newest addition to Hong Kong’s microscopic vintage décor landscape, which opened late in 2012. Stocked with a hand-selected range of vintage furniture and accessories the warehouse style shop is a collector’s dream. No two items are the same and the stock comes from locations spanning the globe: Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
“I don’t specialise in one particular period or country. I just pick pieces I like and find exciting,” explains Irene Capriz, the store’s Italian-Malaysian, Bologna-raised founder and creative director. Admittedly, vintage interiors can be tricky to work with: too much of a good thing can be a horror. But vintage accents can add flair and character to a room or entire home in the right place and in the right dose. Capriz also sees another upside to embracing the old. How many times have you seen one of Hong Kong’s super-luxury homes that can run nine-digits grace the pages of Architectural Digest? You probably haven’t. “Part of the reason is that the furniture selection on offer in Hong Kong is quite mainstream,” theorises Capriz. “I would like to change this by giving people the opportunity to actually find exciting and unique pieces that have a sense of history and a genuine story to tell.”
Casa Capriz indeed maintains a warehouse feel, but not one that flirts with dark, damp storage. The 2,600-square foot space is bright and welcoming, and though Capriz has packed it with eclectic, contrasting pieces, nothing looks crammed in or out of place. It’s easy to imagine a classic wing chair in one’s own home. Capriz herself is an ideal hostess, who knows every detail of every piece and is happy to tell its story. She was raised in Italy: expect a boisterous chat and an espresso or two while you shop. If you’re not in the market for an old-school Victrola, Capriz shares some of her space with an art dealer (Platform China) and a fashion designer (Tangram), thereby creating one of Hong Kong’s funkiest department stores.
Among the most notable items are classic turn-of-the-century and Louis Vuitton steamer trunks (each different from the next), many of which have linings alone that are worth a closer look, 1960s and ’70s-era record consoles (perfect for vinyl hounds), wardrobes, door frames converted into mirrors, Chinese apothecary shelving, over-dyed Turkish rugs, converted French wrought iron four poster beds, and endlessly creative lamps that effortlessly add atmosphere to a space. Everything in the store is functional, either in its original state or after a refurbishment.
Despite how singular much of her stock is Capriz does have her work cut out for her. Used items are still looked at curiously rather than covetously in Asia. Capriz works with decorators and also rents many of the items out for photo shoots, but the store is open because, ultimately, she has faith in the market. “Honestly it’s changing a lot. [Vintage] will always be a niche market, but there’s always room for it.”