It takes two: a truly unique apartment in Pok Fu Lam

PplusP pokfulam apartment door

It’s not uncommon for a homeowner to display cherished artworks in their abode — sometimes even basing an entire area’s aesthetic on a specific work or collection of pieces. What’s a little more unusual is designing an entire home around the work of a single artist. And yet that’s exactly what this globetrotter homeowner did with her 1,700-square-foot Pok Fu Lam apartment. 

The China-born homeowner met Taiwanese artist Hsu Wei-bin on a trip to Taiwan and was so impressed with his unique style that she decided to completely kit out her Hong Kong home with his austere yet beautiful furnishings. As Hsu doesn’t deal with other aspects of interior design such as layout, walls, or finishes himself, nor does he have a construction team in Hong Kong, she signed on Wesley Liu, founder and creative director of PplusP Designers, to the project. Having been commissioned by the homeowner for a previous project, Liu was sure working together again would go smoothly. Collaborating with an artist, however, was a new experience for Liu, but he took the situation in stride. 

PplusP pokfulam living room

In order to to better understand Hsu’s work, Liu visited the artist’s home and workshop in Taiwan. “It’s a huge house located in a famous onsen mountain in Taipei,” explained Liu. “I got to see a lot of his work and where he created his furniture, fabrics and metalwork. Hsu and his wife very kindly served us dinner at their house.” Liu and Hsu then walked through the apartment together in order to come up with a design concept. All of the furniture Hsu created for the apartment was completely custom-fitted to the size of her home. “Another special thing about Hsu’s furniture is the source,” elaborated Liu. “All the woods and metals are recycled from abandoned factories in Taiwan. He collects waste material to create something new.” 

PplusP pokfulam bedroom

The shell of the apartment itself is a testament to the value of old things. While most of Liu’s projects consist of large-scale renovations, often with the interior being completely gutted and redone, Liu mostly left the home the way it was save for the decor. “Hsu and I came up with the idea of keeping the existing historical aspects of the apartment,” Liu said. “The materials used — old tiles, wall finishes — have been there for a very long time, around 30 to 50 years, and haven’t changed.”  

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PplusP pokfulam bathroom

These original elements, such as old black tiles that extend all the way from the entrance to the kitchen, contribute to the quirkiness of the flat. In some cases, Liu accentuated these elements, adapting them to the flat’s design concept. “We were going to make a concrete wall, and when we were taking down the old white tiles on the wall of the kitchen, we found some old marks left behind,” he said. “We deliberately kept them so you can see those square patterns on the wall.” The partition between the study and master bedroom, meanwhile, is actually an old wardrobe that was already present in the apartment. 

PplusP pokfulam study

Liu found himself inspired by Hsu’s adaptive modus operandi in other ways, too, creating a few extra pieces that reflected Hsu’s rustic style. “If you look at one of the guest rooms, you’ll see a hanger with some coloured tiles at the bottom — that’s actually my work,” he pointed out. The homeowner contributed her ideas, as well, requesting to keep the workers’ ladder as a decorative piece at the end of the construction period, which Liu then painted and polished. “It was a real collaborative brainstorm between client, artist, and designer,” Liu enthused. “I consider myself a very young designer, and I learned a lot about craftsmanship through this project. It was a good lesson for me, and I think the result is quite stunning.”  

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