HK designer's simple-yet-refined practical abode with an artistic touch
If one of Hong Kong’s most eminent creatives Steve Leung were to articulate his philosophy of design, it would sound something like this: “My design approach is mirrored by my way of living, which is simple-yet-refined, practical yet with an artistic touch.”
The internationally renowned architect and interior and product designer creates amazing modern living spaces around the globe. When it comes to his own home, he employs a contemporary and minimalist design with the adoption of natural elements.
“Since the earliest days of my childhood, I have always adored the sea, choosing to live in proximity of the ocean whenever possible,” said the 63-year-old designer, whose current house is a step away from the sea, allowing him to enjoy its stunning beauty every day. “I believe natural landscape has a healing power to relieve me from the stress of my hectic life. I feel lucky to find a place which is away from the busy urban area and relatively convenient to drive to my workplace and most parts of Hong Kong.”
The house is nestled in one of Hong Kong’s most serene locations — Sai Kung — known as the “back garden of Hong Kong,” the infinite sea view attracted the designer immediately when he first encountered it.
“Facing the ocean and the ever-changing coastal scenery, I can imagine myself fully immersed in the glorious surroundings of lush greenery, boundless sea and sky. As a passionate lover of water activities and sports, this house is also the perfect location where I can enjoy my most favorite hobbies at ease,” Leung said.
With such natural surroundings as a big backdrop, he aimed to craft the three-story house in a way that seamlessly blends with the natural environment. The sides facing the sea are wrapped with generous floor-to-ceiling windows.
On the ground floor, all the full-length doors can be fully opened to bring more nature into the interior, blurring the lines between the outdoor and built environment. It took him over 14 months to transform the original architecture into the current design setting.
The neat and clean forms embody Leung’s design aesthetics of modernity and simplicity, while a stark white house facade is a perfect match with the blues shades of the nearby ocean.
“I’m proud to say this house has embraced a holistic approach that creates a balanced harmony with the natural surroundings. The design inspiration stems from the ancient Chinese philosophy of “harmony between human and nature,” with a special focus on the calming elements of water and wood, re-imagined through a contemporary design language,” Leung said.
“By integrating the theme of nature and minimalism, I want to create a modern, neat, soothing space with a feeling of intimacy to nature. Full-length windows offer a calming panoramic view of the sea, subtly paired with minimalist furniture in natural materials and shades. The natural scenery is skillfully blended into the interior to create the best backdrop for the house.”
In the living room, dark walnut wood as the backdrop hue matches with the earth-tone furniture and adds an extra sense of intimacy to the space. Natural elements, such as teak and black granite, are paired with earth-tone furniture to create a minimalist living room defined by clean lines and generate a gentle visual balance. The low ceiling is painted in dark brown to create an extra sense of coziness for family gatherings.
Carrying on the color tone preluded in the living room, the master bedroom also exudes a natural feel in its generous space. The tranquil ambience is further enhanced by minimalist furniture and unobstructed full-length windows that amplify the glorious beauty of the sunlight and the sea. Leung does not really stick to a particular style, as he feels this would affect and restrict his design creativity.
“I would however say that I’m an advocate of contemporary style and clean lines. I prefer minimal, elegant, and functional designs, which incorporate unique cultural and artistic elements relevant to each particular project,” he said.
A residence needs to respond to the needs of the user, and Leung’s house is where his family and he feel most comfortable.
“My design approach is always human-centered: To me, a good design is a balanced mix of aesthetics and functionality, so as to serve people in the best way possible,” Leung said. “For my mother, I have allocated her room close to the entrance, so she can go out easily without the use of stairs; while for my daughter, due to her passion for cooking, I designed three kitchens of different styles in the house for her to use.”
He tends not to stick to a specific style when it comes to furniture selection. Instead, Leung prefers to choose each piece that fit the unique character most in a particular environment.
“I use a lot of furniture made from natural materials, such as wood and leather, bringing nature into the interior further. Funkier choices, such as yellow husk oak leg chairs, designed by Patricia Urquiola, are also employed to exude a visual excitement and playfulness into the ambience,” he said.
Each space in the house is filled with unique artworks to enhance the mood and add a refined touch of colors and textures into the interior setting.
“Though I would not describe myself as a professional art collector, I love collecting contemporary artworks and I genuinely appreciate the beauty of any sort of art,” he said. “Just to name a few of my favorites, the yellow pumpkin print by Kusama Yayoi on the staircase exudes a cheerful and welcoming feel, while the sculpture by Ju Ming by the poolside strikes a balance between silence and nature.”
Leung also collects antiques with a strong story behind, such as the 170-year-old New York Steinway piano in the living room, which marked his daughter’s birthday 20 years ago. In addition, he is also in love with animal-themed art pieces and has three dogs and one cat sculpture in the house.
“Among all of my collections, the 6-meter-long tailor-made giraffe statue in the garden is in top place. I collected it from my Edinburgh trip while I was fascinated by a local street sculpture. I reached out to the artist to create a massive, personalized sculpture that could integrate the creativity of the artist with my art aspirations. It has been a long-yet-fascinating journey for me to arrange all the logistics of this statue from Scotland to Hong Kong, not to mention all the challenges during the installation process!”
When asked where he spends most of his time at home, Leung chose the living room.
“After a long day, I like spending time sharing little daily thoughts with my dear ones, indulging in a cup of tea or a glass of wine, or simply appreciating the calming beauty of the nature,” he said.
When the weather is nice, he also enjoys the peaceful outdoor garden, immersing himself in tranquil moments of contemplation surrounded by the stillness of the natural surroundings.
“In my opinion, a secluded space that encourages strong family bond and intimacy is the key to make a home welcoming and cozy. Privacy is crucial to our very own living space, and I strive to create a modern and neat environment with a strong feeling of closeness with the surrounding nature, shaping a soothing and secluded space for a family — a blissful luxury in the highly populated Hong Kong,” Leung said.