Introducing Hong Kong’s ‘create-preneurs’

When architecture and design maven Catherine Shaw moved to HK after 10 years in design-obsessed Tokyo she found a city with a new-found passion for all things creative

Another day, another opening. Hong Kong’s wave of new restaurants, bars and hotels is playing havoc with my diet as I find myself – in the name of research – sipping cocktails and sampling menus in my quest for all things beautifully designed.

Recently, there has been a clutch of creative contenders for my attention including the distinctive new Neri & Hu-designed Ham & Sherry, a tiny restaurant on Ship Street decorated with contemporary Catalonian blue and white tiles, hocks of cured Iberico ham and a fabulous range of sherries (without a grandmother in sight).  There is also a ‘secret bar’ at the back (just don’t say I told you….)

Local designer Joyce Wang’s wildly creative interiors at Mott 32 have also caught my eye; although Chef Fung’s modern take on rustic Chinese farm-to-table cuisine (order the classic Beijing roast duck 24 hours in advance), and avant garde cocktails with Chinese ingredients like osmanthus honey and goji berry have been known to distract me. Alternatively, Australian chef David Laris’ indigenous specialities, including ‘Barramundi cooked in Aboriginal Paperbark’, are very hard to resist at The Bellbrook.

Meanwhile, fashion and art have been expertly combined at the Liang Yi Museum, housed in an elegantly restored 1960s building on Hollywood Road 400. Among the museum’s exhibitions are a collection of highly covetable jewelled clutches from the late 1880s to the 1960s by the likes of Cartier, Boucheron and Van Cleef & Arpels.

Culture has even seeped into mainstream department stores with Lane Crawford’s ‘Made in China’ collection of young China-based designers including Ms Min, Chictopia and Helen Lee.

Creative design boutiques are also popping up on the city’s back streets. Gough Street’s WOAW! is an absolute gem with its highly original edit of lifestyle items from Kawamura-Ganjavian’s balaclava-inspired Ostrich Pillow headpiece to cheeky stationery by Terrapin. Nearby, PMQ is a wonderfully creative enclave for designers, ‘create-preneurs’ and artists with an enticing mix of art galleries, boutiques, bars and restaurants presented in a painstakingly restored set of original buildings. And in the Star Street design precinct, Timothy Oulton is also well worth a visit for fabulously eccentric interiors sporting book-lined columns.

No one, however, blends traditional and the avant garde quite as well as the grand dame Peninsula Hotel. It recently celebrated its 85th birthday with a tech-savvy facelift, achieved without sacrificing any of its quintessential Colonial glamour.  If you can’t face the long queues for their legendary Afternoon Tea, the hotel can provide a beautifully designed ‘take away’ tea set of homemade scones, clotted cream, strawberry jam and two tea bags.

I’d take my mini-picnic a few blocks east to enjoy at Zaha Hadid’s Innovation Tower, a fascinatingly fluid inspiration for urban designophiles everywhere.

Photo by European Pressphoto Agency b.v./Alamy

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