Moun­tain Magic

The newly designed pent­house apart­ment at The Mor­gan gets the best of both worlds, with views of the Peak and the Har­bour. De­signer Robert Cheng tells Tamsin Brad­shaw how he used the light, be­spoke el­e­ments and those views to cre­ate a lu­mi­nously beau­ti­ful

Hong Kong Tatler Homes - - NEWS - Pho­tog­ra­phy MOSES NG Styling CHRISTIE SIMP­SON

De­signer Robert Cheng talks about how he cre­ated a lu­mi­nously beau­ti­ful pent­house apart­ment at The Mor­gan

One of the most strik­ing things about the pent­house at The Mor­gan is the way the space changes as the light shifts. Ar­riv­ing at this apart­ment, which oc­cu­pies the en­tire 30th floor, it’s a dark, thun­der­ous day, and the rooms feel spa­cious yet cosy, rich yet re­lax­ing—the per­fect foil for the drama of the views and the clouds out­side. Later on, as the clouds lift, so too does the light. Sun­light glints off the metal­lic el­e­ments of the wall­pa­per in the vast liv­ing space, shim­mer­ing as it hits the sparkling ac­cents on cush­ions, rugs and ta­bles in this room.

The build­ing it­self was designed by Robert A M Stern Ar­chi­tects for Phoenix Prop­erty In­vestors, and is lo­cated at 31 Con­duit Road in a green, quiet and con­ve­nient cor­ner of Mid-Lev­els. The 3,962sqft pent­house apart­ment (which also fea­tures sev­eral ter­races) was designed with a dis­cern­ing, worldly col­lec­tor in mind and was re­cently sold for HK$344 mil­lion.

“We’ve cre­ated a pent­house that is dif­fer­ent from any out there, one specif­i­cally designed for a so­phis­ti­cated owner who col­lects and trea­sures beau­ti­ful things,” says Robert Cheng, founder of Brewin De­sign Of­fice, the ar­chi­tec­ture and de­sign stu­dio be­hind the pent­house’s in­te­ri­ors.

Cheng, who worked with Jean Nou­vel and Tsao & McKown Ar­chi­tects be­fore set­ting up his own stu­dio, brings an ar­chi­tec­tural ap­proach to the five-bed­room pent­house.

“Pro­por­tions, de­tail, nat­u­ral light, time­less­ness—th­ese are all im­por­tant fac­tors in our pro­jects,” says Cheng. “Our ap­proach can be con­sid­ered un­der­stated, so Sa­muel [Chu, found­ing part­ner and chief in­vest­ment

of­fi­cer of Phoenix Prop­erty In­vestors] said, ‘You’re go­ing to have to dial it up. We need some sparkle in there.’”

For Cheng, this was a new chal­lenge, one he ad­dressed with bal­ance. “In my head, it was al­ways about keep­ing a bal­ance be­tween our DNA and at­tract­ing the right buyer,” he says. “So we sub­sti­tuted your typ­i­cal shiny chan­de­liers with a play on ab­stract wall­pa­per, like the one in the liv­ing room.”

Splashed with shim­mer­ing pas­tels, the wall­pa­per in the liv­ing room helps el­e­vate the space, giv­ing it the airi­ness Cheng and his team sought. They also var­nished the floors again and again, “us­ing lime wash to give the yel­low oak floors that milky colour.”

The wall­pa­per runs all the way along the back wall of the 1,200sqft space, which en­com­passes a fam­ily room—where you could sit and watch TV, for ex­am­ple—a

vast, for­mal sit­ting room, and a grand din­ing area fin­ished with a con­tem­po­rary, 72-piece, aged-brass chan­de­lier by New York light­ing com­pany Ap­pa­ra­tus.

Win­dows reach­ing from the floor to the 4.5m ceil­ing run along the front wall, of­fer­ing har­bour views framed by the tow­ers of Mid-Lev­els, which are in turn framed by the ver­ti­cal, white-oak fins that hug three walls of this space. “You should feel co­cooned by this neck­lace … it’s an in­stal­la­tion that will dis­tract you from the fore­ground, but that will also pipe your view. You can tilt the fins so you don’t have to see the other build­ings; they’re re­ally light fil­ters,” says Cheng.

The views from the rooms at the back of the home—the en­trance hall, sev­eral of the bed­rooms and the study—are also pow­er­ful, in quite a dif­fer­ent way. From this side, the steep slopes of Vic­to­ria Peak rise up dra­mat­i­cally, the dense jun­gle so close you can al­most touch it. A bon­sai tree in the re­cep­tion area—which leads onto the main ter­race— brings the for­est in; mean­while, a huge pic­ture win­dow in the Ja­panese-style tatami suite shows noth­ing but green.

“You see three walls, and one wall is miss­ing: it’s ba­si­cally the moun­tain,” says Cheng. “We’ve al­most col­lapsed the moun­tain onto the win­dow.” This was the start­ing point for the Ja­panese-in­spired bed­room, which fea­tures tatami-mat floor­ing and a fu­ton-style bed set on a plat­form and look­ing straight at that view. “It’s an in­ter­est­ing per­spec­tive; when you turn on your side in bed, you see that view. That’s why we thought we would cre­ate some­thing Zen-like.”

The bed­rooms each have their own char­ac­ter: there’s the warm, suede-clad study, which dou­bles as a bed­room; the light, lovely and fem­i­nine ter­race suite, which faces the har­bour and is decked out in golden tones; and the guest suite, which has a ter­race look­ing onto the moun­tain and ref­er­ences this through green ac­cents. The mas­ter suite, mean­while, also de­fers to the moun­tain with its ac­cents in sand and olive hues, through be­spoke silk wall­cov­er­ings, a rug cus­tomde­signed by Tai Ping, silk throws and the warm brass of the Tas­sel pen­dant bed­side lights by Ap­pa­ra­tus.

“It was re­ally more about cre­at­ing an

ex­pe­ri­ence for the user than about cre­at­ing an in­te­rior theme,” says Cheng, who clearly put care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion into ev­ery el­e­ment in this home, in­clud­ing the fur­ni­ture. Each piece was cho­sen with care, from the or­gan­i­cally curved DRDP chair by Roberto Lazze­roni for Cec­cotti in the en­trance hall and the vol­canic lava-stone side ta­ble by Chris­tian Li­ai­gre in the liv­ing room to the Gio Ponti arm­chairs in the mas­ter bed­room and the 1959 Di­na­mar­quesa arm­chair by Jorge Zal­szupin in the fam­ily room. Not to men­tion the light­ing by New York de­sign­ers Ap­pa­ra­tus and Lindsey Adel­man.

But as Cheng says, “We started to crave be­ing able to cus­tomise things rather than just go­ing on a shop­ping spree. So we cus­tomde­signed the 12-place din­ing ta­ble, the cof­fee ta­bles and some other pieces. We said, ‘Let’s model this piece up. Let’s think about the tex­ture of the stones.’ Th­ese were al­most minia­ture pro­jects in themselves.”

This com­bi­na­tion of be­spoke de­signs and care­fully col­lected items speaks to Cheng’s vi­sion of a so­phis­ti­cated col­lec­tor. “I wanted some­thing that would be tuned to peo­ple’s habits,” he says. “It’s a col­lec­tion of small things that may be eclec­tic, and that’s cu­rated,” all within a light and lofty space that, com­bined with the ex­pan­sive, moun­tain-fac­ing ter­race, is re­ally quite rare in­deed. “There are only two other cities that are sand­wiched be­tween moun­tain and sea: one is Monaco, the other is Rio. In places like this, you’re go­ing to find th­ese strange ty­polo­gies—th­ese mas­sive ter­races right up again the moun­tain­scapes. Just to own that and to be right on the moun­tain is re­ally a plea­sure.”

VER­DANT VISTA The pent­house fea­tures sev­eral out­door ar­eas, in­clud­ing this ex­pan­sive, moun­tain-fac­ing ter­race

A LIGHT TOUCH Clock­wise from above: The shim­mer­ing pas­tel wall­pa­per in the liv­ing room helps el­e­vate the space; the grand din­ing area fea­tures a con­tem­po­rary, 72-piece, aged­brass chan­de­lier by Ap­pa­ra­tus; and a bon­sai tree in the re­cep­tion area draws at­ten­tion to the for­est out­doors

NA­TURE AND NUR­TURE From left: The mas­ter bath­room of­fers more views of the moun­tains; the mas­ter bed­room fea­tures be­spoke silk wall­cov­er­ings, a cus­tomde­signed rug by Tai Ping, silk throws, and the Tas­sel pen­dant lights by Ap­pa­ra­tus

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