Lifestyle

Beating the heat

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If you couldn’t tell from the early arrivals of blockbusters in cinemas (really, the ‘Avengers’ before May?), the climate change-inspired 30-degree April days should tell you that summer has arrived. There are dozens of trends and interiors movements emerging this year: gelato colours, real plants and tropical prints, naturalism and imperfection, modern herringbone patterns. But sturdier concepts are abound too—chiefly ways to stay cool while keeping it green. “I think more colour—‘flamingo’ and ‘pineapple’ and such—will be big this summer. It will be a lot of fun,” says designer Clifton Leung at Clifton Leung Design Workshop, ironically adding that, “Since winter is getting longer and longer it will be up to us to make summer [ourselves]. Switch up accessories instead of re-doing everything: cushions, cutlery, flat wear, the space around the sofa, the table and so on. It’s all fair game.”

Aesthetic Appeal 
Ultimately interior design does come down to personal taste. Where Leung sees more vivid colour, COC design director Kevin Chu argues trends will lean towards, “Celeste, black anodised metal elements. White is the new black again,” he says. The sustainability-focused designer also sees upcycling making a breakthrough. “I think the trend this year is still upcycled elements, with natural and unfinished feature walls as part of the composition. Although I think upcycling is a bit cliché, especially planters thrown into the interior to ‘environmental it up’, there are many channels [from which] to attack this trend, such as maybe upcycling plastic bags as featured wall lamps, or Styrofoam boxes or papier-mâché as storage elements.”


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It also comes down to geography. “Hong Kong’s sub-tropical climate pushes us to think outside of the box and adapt global trends to not only suit the city’s hot and humid summers, but also our personal style,” states Kate Babington, managing director at eco-furnisher TREE. Personalisation aside, Babington is putting her money on all shades of green to carry over its dominance from 2017. “Take your pick from rich bottle green to brilliant emerald; for those who prefer muted tones, sage green has been forecasted as one of this year’s most trending shades, and pairs beautifully with a neutral palette.” Green will also translate to actual foliage in the home (more on that in a bit), with the motif translating to accessories and wallpapers for anyone with less than a green thumb. 

Natural materials embedded themselves in the design scene a decade ago, and that’s not going to change. “Terracotta, stone, natural fibres and solid wood are all raw, naturally stunning and uniquely different options to play with, and together can create a lovingly layered, tactile and inviting look,” says Babington. 

Keeping Cool 
Stylish accessories and funky colours will do little for a space that’s so hot and stuffy your skin peels off the upholstery. Fabrics, finishes, accessories and accents that are resistant to warmth can go a long way in combating ambient heat. Selecting manmade materials can help too. “You know that diving fabric for wetsuits? That kind of fabric is applied to furniture these days,” Leung notes. “There are sofas made of that. It’s kind of rubbery, a bit of polyester, it doesn’t stick, it’s durable and elastic.” It’s also resistant to moulds and washes easily. Perfect for the SAR. For those less interested in futuristic furnishings, reliable cotton and linen never goes out of style. “As for upholstery, we recommend going for cotton: a natural and breathable material fabric that keeps cool during the summer, and is durable enough to get you through all your hosting and lounging needs,” adds Babington. “Don’t forget to opt for light neutral colours.” Dark colours can feel hot even when the fabric is cool. For anyone considering redoing their homes, stone and concrete floors are wise choices for the chic aesthetic—and it’s much easier to warm up with a rug for four weeks than cool off for 48.


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In cooling, Leung is a big fan (no pun intended) of Balmuda’s energy efficient fans and MUJI’s personalised A/C, quiet, low-energy, portable cooling solutions. Balmudas don’t come cheap, but the cordless, remote controlled fan generates a natural breeze—quietly—and its mini version consumes just two watts (on low) compared to 30 watts by standard fans, but can still blast air up to 10 metres. MUJI’s Low Noise Circulator Fan is a more affordable option, and also energy-efficient (6.5 watts on low), in a more compact package, ideal for Hong Kong’s small spaces. In typical MUJI fashion, it’s designed to slot into any space. “I think it’s a great little machine to cool down with, and it uses so little energy,” enthuses Leung. “You don’t always have to cool the room, just your little area.

”COC’s Chu agrees, emphasising a need to try and steer away from air conditioning (yes, it’s hard in Hong Kong) and towards more efficient, ambient solutions. “Ceiling and floor fans, more solid colour blinds, light-coloured interiors and furniture, opening windows north and south, or west and east, to create differential air pressure effects,” are all part of keeping cool while maintaining a low carbon footprint. Babington echoes that by suggesting keeping blinds and window coverings closed when not at home to reduce heating due to sunshine. She also advocates for ceiling fans—from colonial to contemporary designs—as a way to add a breeze and keep the electricity bill under control.


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Finally, real houseplants are making big inroads in interiors this year as the cheapest, most eco-friendly, easiest way to cool down in the world. “They naturally cool and purify the surrounding air when moisture evaporates from their leaves,” finishes Babington. “And, as one of this year’s dominant décor trends, there’s no better time to bring the outdoors inside.” 

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