Inside André Fu's Deep Water Bay Home
André Fu was so struck by a friend’s Hong Kong apartment when he visited a decade ago that he eventually made his own home in the same building. And it’s no wonder. On entering the designer’s Deep Water Bay apartment, you are immediately drawn to the double-height, floor-to-ceiling windows directly ahead.
They preside over a vista that spans almost 270 degrees, from Deep Water Bay in the west, across Ocean Park and Middle Island, all the way to South Bay and Repulse Bay in the east. Perched high in the slim, high-rise tower, it’s like you are on the side of a cliff, looking down and out over Hong Kong’s ocean, beaches and beauty.
“I’m sure I’m not the only one who has this view, but it’s quite mesmerising. It doesn’t feel like my usual encounter with Hong Kong,” says André. “And because my daily schedule has become increasingly demanding, I thought that if my personal home can physically evoke that sense of retreat, or just an escape from the urbanity, that would be something I would really appreciate.”
Before André moved in five years ago, he gutted the place and streamlined it. “I kept it fairly open-plan,” he says. The downstairs is one large split-level space with open-plan kitchen and salon, and then a few stairs lead down to a dining-living area adjacent to the windows and that magnificent view. The two bedrooms overlook the dining-living space from a balcony above, also enjoying the same view through those light-gathering double-height windows.
The design of the apartment takes a “modern, purist approach,” he says. “I always feel that the luxury of Hong Kong is actually to have space, and having space that can evolve with time.” This is advice he always gives people when asked about designing their residences, and it’s something he has put into practice in his own home.
“I just give the advice that I think home is a very personal place, but there are many people that pre-empt themselves before they move in,” he says. “Typically, before you move in to a particular venue you do the renovation and some people go full blown into buying everything, deciding on everything. I say that sometimes it’s better that you move in and you look at the space and realise how you physically use it.”
See also: Diamond In The Sky Is One Of Hong Kong's Most Exclusive Venues
In this vein, André provided a neutral backdrop for his home, investing in the floor, which is a mix of marble and white solid oak parquet, the kind you would typically find in a gallery. “It was so the objects inside the house can evolve. I’ve kept it open and flexible. The walls are painted in an off-white colour so artwork can be hung and objects can be placed in front of them, and there’s a way that the whole venue can evolve.”
And over the five years André has been living here, that’s how it has happened. In particular, he has acquired more artwork, including sculptures by François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne, and Ai Weiwei, and other works by Oscar Murillo and Korean artist Park Seo-bo, though he insists he in not a collector.
“I think five years ago I was very much into sculptures, maybe because of my design background. I love the way sculptures are more of a three-dimensional object—they have the play with light and shadow,” he says. But over time he has branched into canvas works, some that are more restrained and in keeping with the overall design of his apartment.
“Those are more expected of my aesthetics,” says André. “But there are also the kind of works that have more of that audacious, bold expression, just as a kind of visual stimulation.” Here, he refers in particular to a bright, bold, round piece by street artist Kaws.
There are intriguing furnishings, too, including some modernist pieces, such as an acrylic chair that André inherited from his grandmother. “She acquired it when she travelled back in the day. I mean, that’s the last thing you would expect from your grandmother, but she’s quite a stylish woman,” he says.
But mostly the home is filled with pieces from the new André Fu Living collection ahead of a preview at his home. The collection, which was launched in January, comprises 150 items.
The pieces in the collection are designed around two themes— Artisan Artistry and Modern Vintage—with a palette of mineral blue, dusty burgundy, taupe, greys and earthy tones. “It’s a collection; everything can coexist together,” says André. “It’s the total experience I am trying to create for the audience and how, whether it’s many pieces together or just a single piece, they can just integrate into your life simply.”
The dinner service comprises 14 versatile items that cover both Western and Asian dining, from rice and soup bowls to salad plates. “We can serve varying cuisines with the same set, and there aren’t many offerings in the market with which you can do that,” says André.
See also: 10 Hong Kong Art Exhibitions To See In May
Then there are the laptop tables, which can easily rest against a sofa. “It’s for the modern-day person—you don’t need a study desk; you can work anywhere,” he says. There’s a dining table with integrated lazy Susan, there are throws and carpets, a dressing table and a room-dividing screen, minimalist and beautifully crafted with concealed hinges.
There are bedding and scarves, both featuring a recurring motif of the collection inspired by the pattern of post-modern ventilation blocks often glimpsed around car parks in Hong Kong. “I love that we took that pattern and translated it,” says André.
For the first time, this collection is what the designer terms “André doing André.” For many years, André has been interpreting and expressing himself through the brands that he’s worked for, whether that’s been the Upper House in Hong Kong, the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok or the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo. And even though there’s definitely an André Fu aesthetic, which you pick up in his home, too, publicly it’s never been an exposed André, an André that’s purely André.
“When I work with brands, it’s how I reflect on the brand’s identity, or what my former experience of the brand is. It’s how I interpret the essence of that brand and use my design language to encapsulate the core of what that brand represents for me,” says André. His homeware collection, like his own home, is different. He’s not responding to any brief but his own. “It’s more like, what is André’s personal aesthetic? Who is he? It’s an interesting time when you really think, ‘What do I actually like?’
It’s nerve-racking for the designer to put himself on display like this, but he’s clearly proud of the collection. “It all here and I’m going to use it. It’s going to become part of my life.”
While creation of the André Fu Living collection has been a year in the execution, André hasn’t stopped working on the spatial projects that remain part of his interior design business, AFSO. He’s behind the interiors of the newly opened St Regis Hong Kong, as well as Artus, the luxury serviced residences under the K11 brand at the Victoria Dockside development. It hasn’t been easy.
“St Regis is the third hotel that I’ve done in the city, so it’s even more challenging for me to express a very different story,” says André, who likes to imbue his projects with a sense of place. And Artus marks the fourth major property in his hometown.
“I think not many designers would have the opportunity to have four key properties in a city. It’s a huge challenge because they are actually quite close to each other, and to differentiate them and make sure they have a personality that’s different, that’s challenging. But to have been given that trust, it’s very rewarding, too.”
See also: Hong Kong Homes: A Kennedy Town Penthouse With Panoramic Views