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Nouveau Chinois


Hong Kong is witnessing a revival of interest in traditional Chinese design, radically updated. Here, we pick some of the best boutiques where you can indulge in the look. By CARMEN TING

Published on Jun 11, 2010

Tucked away on the 16th floor of Horizon Plaza—Hong Kong’s best-kept secret for home décor—this unassuming, decade-old shop specializes in fine, handmade lacquerware, most of it done in a red, black and gold color scheme. Eye-catching items include photo albums with inlaid, eggshell covers and auspicious dragonfly, longevity and double happiness motifs, and hand-painted decorative plates featuring Chinese calligraphy and modern Vietnamese portrayals of tranquil rural life. The shop also displays colorful silk lanterns; and rosewood and ebony chopstick sets with Chinese calligraphy engravings, and silver, horn and shell fittings. Apart from beautiful lacquer home wares, they also make finely crafted mahjong kits, complete with English instructions.

1607-09, 16th floor, Horizon Plaza, 2 Kee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau; +852 3106 0163;

All too often, contemporary Chinese design veers into kitsch (just how many images of Chairman Mao does one need?). But this tranquil, two-story lifestyle boutique sets out to prove there are other ways of bringing traditional design into the 21st century. Under the direction of chief designer Elaine Chan, the shop features playful pieces including lamps fashioned from birdcages adorned with silk tassels, cheongsam-shaped vases and candy-colored drum-shaped garden stools. Also on offer are rough-hewn jade coasters and place settings with ornate carvings and chunky statement necklaces made out of onyx and jade. Don’t forget to venture upstairs for discounted items from past seasons.

15 Lyndhurst Terr., Central; +852 2815 7873;


Occupying 1,800 square meters on the ground floor of Horizon Plaza, this shop stocks a huge array of furniture and home wares, all designed in-house. Among the Chinese-inflected items are chairs upholstered in silk brocade; porcelain tea sets sporting ancient Chinese robes against colorful backgrounds as well as sloe-eyed beauties from retro Shanghainese calendars; jade chopsticks, napkin rings and coasters; and candlesticks decorated with Chinese brass locks. Best of all, international shipping is available. Visit their outlet on the 17th floor where discontinued items are sold at heavily discounted prices.

1st floor, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing Street, Ap Lei Chau; +852 2877 3295;


Nestled on Gough Street—which is quickly becoming one of Hong Kong’s funkiest stretches—is this lovely little space owned by Ranee Kok, a local fashion designer whose flirtatious interpretations of Chinese design have made her a darling among local celebrities like actress Gigi Leung. This cozy den is filled with racks displaying Kok’s unabashedly girly creations, including slinky, one-of-a-kind cheongsams in non-traditional fabrics such as denim. Other Chinese inspired looks include mandarin-collared jackets, cocktail dresses cut from bold Chinese silks, and rings and bags bearing an artistic rendering of the Chinese character of “longevity” in metal. If you’re looking for something special, the shop can oblige with bespoke evening wear in two to six weeks and ship overseas. Also keep an eye out for vintage bags, earrings and necklaces from Paris, London and New York.

16 Gough Street, Central; +852 2108 4068;

One of the territory’s best-known graphic designers, Alan Chan was perhaps among the first to mine China’s past for inspiration. In fact, a browse through his store gives you a quick lesson on the history of graphic arts in China. Among the motifs Chan employs for his home wares, stationery, umbrellas, playing cards and tins of tea are calligraphy, newspaper classifieds, historic photos from the Qing dynasty in China and old Hong Kong street scenes, Communist propaganda art, feng shui symbols and even ancient erotica. Look out for their 12-piece pu-er mini dragon–ball tea for a special tea-drinking experience—use one piece per cup and see it bloom in hot water.

Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong, 8 Finance Street, Central; +852 3190 8690;

Looking for a more understated look? Then head over to Blanc de Chine for a Zen take on Chinese design. Over the past two decades, this elegant boutique has earned a serious following among homegrown and international celebrities; Zhang Ziyi, Michelle Yeoh, Andy Lau and Juliette Binoche are among the shop’s devotees who keep going back for its well-tailored signature mandarin-collared jackets, loose-fitting cheongsams, Chinese robes and quilted jackets, all in subdued hues. Don’t miss their gorgeous silk bedding.

218–221, The Landmark, Central; + 852 2104 7934;


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