Considering its status as an affluent, chic enclave with a hip “neighbourhood” cachet, Happy Valley is underrepresented on the serviced apartment front. While serviced flats spring up in similarly hashtag worthy ’hoods like Sheung Wan, parts of Wanchai and corners of “authentic” Hong Kong in Kowloon, Happy Valley remains relatively barren. In many ways that’s what keeping it cool. To remedy that, New World Development has just launched Eight Kwai Fong, which it believes is a perfect fit.
New Kid, Old Block
A redevelopment on the site of a low-rise building, the 31-storey 8KF is quite possibly the first manifestation of NWD’s new Artisanal Movement philosophy, something the developer plans on incorporating into all its projects going forward. According to Coco Wong, New World’s assistant general manager for portfolio management, Happy Valley was selected “Because of the Artisanal Movement. It’s about what we can do for the community, how we can embrace the heritage. Happy Valley has a long history and plenty of heritage buildings so we wanted to create a building that would complement the community,” she explains. “We also wanted to take advantage of the greenery and open space. When we designed the ground floor facilities we wanted to include the courtyards.”
New World may call it artisanal, but 8KF bears the hallmarks of a boutique hotel. Entering through tall, heavy wooden doors into a small lobby, two messages are relayed immediately: creativity is the order of the day and there’s no wasted space. The ground floor is the community area that is most indicative of the property’s personality. The lobby is decorated with muted woods and low lighting, which oddly enhance the art and artefacts collected from around the globe that decorate the spaces. Among those are Tapio Wirkkala’s Venetian-style handblown glassware and local studio Latitude 22N’s handcrafted vases. To the right of the lobby is a small fitness centre, which faces one of the property’s two courtyards, and the Siemens-equipped laundry room. To some, a shared laundry room is the opposite of chic living but Wong argues the decision to have a laundry room was made in order to provide more space in each flat — be it for storage or simply floor space.
At the other end of the ground floor are the function rooms. The Hobby Room is similar to a library, with seating for eight. The Collection Room is a casual, relaxing lounge with assorted seating and a turntable (a Brionvega Radiofonografo by Achille to be precise). The Dining Room, facing the second courtyard and its green wall, seats eight and is complemented by a fully equipped kitchen for private events. The common spaces feature lots of marble, printed glass, high grain wood, linen and original art, giving the entire space an executive floor vibe while remaining homey.
Flash in the Pan
In fairness, we’ve all heard about the trend to all things artisanal in the last few years — largely as a punch line to a joke. Hipsters, who are so fond of artisanal living, have become public culture enemy number one, and there’s even a television show that lampoons it (Portlandia). More pressing, in the late-1990s, lifestyle was all about what was “natural,” which a decade later gave way to “organic,” which in turn is losing traction to “artisanal.” Is Eight Kwai Fong going to hold up in the long term or is it too trendy?
“The five essences of the artisanal movement are imagination, bespoke [elements], craftsmanship, heritage, and contemporary design. I don’t see any one of these becoming outdated,” argues Wong. “In imagination for example, we have a great platform for collecting the ‘voice’ of our customers. We put this feedback into our internal laboratory to review and so every new project is an improvement on the last. We’re also concerned about function. Residents living here need to feel inspired. The space needs to be carefully designed, and not just a super-branded product.”
The product, of course, is the point, and 8KF’s 52 studio (320 gross square feet) and 104 one-bedroom (535 square feet) suites are heavily open concept, boasting light colours, sliding doors and floor-to-ceiling windows. The flats are designed with young professionals in mind — who should be interested by the tower’s close proximity to Causeway Bay — and so don’t waste energy on unnecessary bells and whistles. “Younger generations are working on their careers and long hours. We wanted to create a serviced apartment for them; the demand is getting stronger every year. Young professionals focus on work, so after a long day they should enjoy their leisure time and maybe explore new ideas and get inspired,” finishes Wong.
Monthly rentals begin at $26,500, including utilities, housekeeping, maintenance, security and WiFi.